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Is AI the answer to all your project management challenges?

Is AI the answer to all your project managementchallenges?

The project management capabilities of organisations typically fall into two camps. The good and the bad. The good camp will typically focus on having the right skills, tooling, team structure, processes, sponsorship, continuous improvement, and KPIs and the ability to measure them. The bad camp is somewhere in spreadsheet heaven with no written down goals. 

The good news, and surprise, is that artificial intelligence (AI) can help both camps, dramatically. Gartner made a strong forecast by saying:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s find out if that’s true.

The two main drivers of AI are:

  • To tell you something that you don’t already know and could not easily find out by other means – generally using multiple, complex sources, of information
  • To do something faster than people -where speed makes a difference

Where can AI help project management?

Out of the seven or so potential types of project risks, there are four where AI can help most: cost, legal, operational and market risk.  Let’s cover these in turn.

 

Cost risk. Forecasting typically happens at the end of the month for project reporting just because of the effort involved. So, unless someone adjusts the forecasts every time a new cost event occurs there is a risk that you could be heading for an overspend during the month without even knowing it. The person doing the forecasts would, in all likelihood, rely on the easy to access, structured data. An AI tool could use the structured data from systems used by the person combined with the unstructured data from documents (contracts, pending proposals, etc.) to make a better, more timely forecast than a person. Can you imagine how useful it would be to have an AI tool alert you to the implications of any changes or potential changes in real-time?

 Legal risk. Let’s consider contract risks in projects - the avoidance of litigation brought against your organisation, or whether your organisation protects its rights asserted in a contract with a supplier. Contracts are complex and are often written then filed away and never referred to again. Not ideal. AI could analyse your contracts and reconcile your project activities to these. Enabling you to ensure your contractual commitments to your customers are met, discovering and reporting any non-compliance. AI could tell you whether the services provided by suppliers were compliant with the contract? All manually intensive and non-trivial tasks.

Operational risk. Do you know where the operational risks lie in your projects? Are your views of risk skewed by the last project post-mortem you conducted just because that’s fresh in the CEOs mind? AI could analyse the historical data of every project you‘ve ever run, providing you with the results of hundreds of automated post-mortems - showing the issues, analysing them, and just as importantly showing trends over time. You could use the insights to help you mitigate the risks in future projects, negotiate better contracts or provide training and education that will help you. Now, that’s powerful!

Market risk. Are you able to assess the risks posed on your project from interest rate and foreign exchange changes, from competitive activity, and from external effects such as Brexit, Covid-19 or the Russian invasion of Ukraine? These risks are unpredictable, and hard to assess because there are so many consequences. AI can be used to explain what external activities might adversely affect your project as they happen. Some third-party AI applications have been trained with other customers data and the impact of external events. For example, a cloud-based project tool might use the analysis of thousands of projects across multiple organisations, bringing that learning to you, helping you mitigate risks you weren’t even aware of. 

Underlying data quality and governance.

As good as AI is though, it’s worth remembering that it still relies on good quality data.

Summary

  • AI won’t really eliminate tasks. It will, however, automate and enable valuable new tasks. It will enable the project manager to focus on insights and decisions.
  • AI can identify new project insights and risks, especially by taking advantage of external data sources.
  • AI is a powerful tool, but it cannot compensate for poor data.
  • AI has the potential to create a dramatic improvement in the project management capabilities of organisations, irrespective of whether they are in the good or bad camp. 

Get in touch

If you need help understanding how to get the most value out of your data, get in touch with our experts by email or give us a call. We’re happy to help!