Can Artificial Intelligence Replace the Project Manager?

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Kiran Bajpai

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: February 23, 2021

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We are all living in an era, which is dominated by automated techniques that make everything so much easier. Yes, it makes all our tasks a breeze. But have you wondered how artificial intelligence can affect the job field? We have already seen how machines have replaced most manual labor in the manufacturing sector. Industrialists say that this is a measure taken to enhance productivity. But what is the consequence of such steps on human workers?

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Brief on how AI contribute to project management

Now, how does AI contribute to project management? It enables one to store and collect information, something which we collectively call Big Data. And such huge amounts of information cannot be processed by the human brain; it is extremely difficult but AI makes the job effortless. Moreover, AI can understand the pattern of the same job being done by someone every day and hence, can automate these regular tasks. 

However, this is still a question of debate. Can machines give the human touch in jobs? Well, we use Alexa, Google Home, Siri, etc. all the time. Even Samsung’s campaign called ‘Samsung Bixby Voice Assistant-MNDmother that helps daughter with #VoiceForever’ enabled a girl to preserve the voice of her dead mum. So yes, AI is very close to bringing that human touch we desire so much. 

And similar is the case for project management. 

Before going further on whether AI can replace project managers completely, let’s look into the potential that it holds in the field of project management.

How can AI help project management?

For instance, several organizations are now using chatbots, to keep an instant, real-time track of the status of projects. Additionally, there are several algorithms that use machine learning to make estimates and allot tasks. According to Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach by Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig, “The designing and building of intelligent agents that receive precepts from the environment and take actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals.” 

Also, Read: Tips To Help Business Leaders To Manage Projects

Again, AI can help you in allocating the right resources to the right department alongside assigned tasks and timelines. This helps companies to stick to strict deadlines. With predictive resource allocation, AI can alert project managers when anything needs immediate attention. It also enables the departments to check if they have the correct tools to complete tasks on time.

Another aspect is risk management, which ensures one understands how uncertainties or unpredictable conditions can positively or negatively affect the final objectives of a project. AI can use massive data and then historically analyze past trends to correctly make a prediction in order to alert you accordingly.

What happens is, any project cycle is dependent on a lot of other factors, including several external agents. And any unpredictable change to either of these factors can lead to delayed timelines and slack in delivery milestones. Currently, techniques like agile technology do minimize uncertainty but again, do not offer a 100% guarantee on the final delivery. 

So, when you deploy machine learning, it will make predictive analysis, using large amounts of data, and you can arrive at the most likely delivery date – complete with upper and lower bounds. You should also remember to put in the risk sources.  

So the final question: Will AI replace project managers?

If you consider the impact of AI on project managers, let’s tell you that the development is still in its initial stage. Over the years, it does have the potential to transform the way projects are delivered. Yes, project management will become more advanced. But still, artificial intelligence cannot be 100% human.

We can say that AI will help project managers up to a great extent but it cannot replace them. If implemented properly, it will lead to increased project success rates. But 100% of success is not possible only with AI. Project managers will need to interfere to see how this particular type of technology can add real value and drive positive change in project management and business decisions. With proper strategy, AI implementation will be successful. And who makes strategies? Not machines but human minds!

For project managers, it is a regular task to not manage one but multiple teams. They also handle varied projects simultaneously. Therefore, with AI, they can make their work more efficient and effortless. They can also use it to minimize the failure rate of projects with the help of predictive analysis. Again, project managers can ensure more accurate project planning with artificial intelligence tools.

However, when it comes to prediction, project managers should know that several of these problems can be solved with the implementation of simpler and effective statistical regression models. Hence, not every issue needs the deployment of artificial intelligence. It is always a better idea to first opt for a simple statistical tool and then compare its results with the more advanced ML-based solution. This way, you will not only save on valuable resources but will also avoid the unnecessary complications of installing an AI system in your organization.

So yes, we should not fear AI but welcome it as effective project management software that increases efficiency in project management.

How can project managers benefit from AI?

Now that we have established AI is not a threat but in fact, a boon for project managers, let’s try to understand how we can use this technology to reap maximum benefits.

Project managers can utilize AI to re-evaluate timelines, costs, and track the progress of tasks anytime during the course of the project. This will thereby help in ensuring that the project is executed as per plan and in taking steps when obstacles hinder this progress. AI can aid in making quick estimates by analyzing historical data, rates of productivity, estimates of time frames, number of working hours, among other factors. This will in turn help project managers to arrive at an optimized model, inclusive of the whole project management process, by ensuring automation of repetitive tasks. When machine learning ensures automation to be done in an intelligent manner by performing routine tasks, project managers can concentrate on the more critical and strategic decisions.

So when a project manager starts diverting his attention toward more value-added activities, he will be able to predict future trends, automate scheduling the timeline of projects, and give quick responses to tasks delegated by superiors and requests made by the staff.

Conclusion

Artificial intelligence in project management has the potential to render a huge impact on the performance of teams and the ultimate results of projects. Therefore, organizations that deploy this technology will be able to see success at a much quicker rate as compared to their competitors. With the inception of big data, processing power, and advanced algorithms, AI can be used to perform not only routine activities but also advanced tasks. 

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Kiran Bajpai is Marketing Associate at SoftwareSuggest. Her expertise lies in Software Analysis. She can never get bored of reading books, especially those related to History and Politics.

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