4 Ways in Which Artificial Intelligence Will Improve Project Management

Thomas Knudsen
4 min readFeb 12, 2018

I don’t know if you’ve stumbled upon a rather recent article announcing the doomsday of project managers. It’s entitled Project Managers Are Being Replaced by AI. Here’s how to Avoid That and you can follow the link to read it.

The author also offers a few tips on avoiding that.

That’s great, but aren’t we all a bit fed up with the apocalyptical announcements that robots are going to take over our jobs and pretty soon they’ll be the master race that turns us humans into slaves?

Well, I am.

And I call BS on that.

I am a project manager. I love my trade. I also run October Software, a company that creates powerful tools for project managers. We rely on AI, among other things.

It was never (not will it ever be) our intention to replace human project managers with AIs. Quite the opposite. Much like any other software creator, we want to make humans’ lives easier, both at work and at home.

But I digress.

What I started out to say was that I don’t believe our jobs are in peril. I also don’t believe that we should start a trans-nation project managers union to fight robots.

My belief is that AI will change the face of project management for the better. I’m not alone in this. 82% of the respondents surveyed in an Atlassian survey say that AI will change their job in the next three years.

Here’s what I expect to happen:

1. Better Overall Planning

As humans, we are naturally inclined to be optimistic. We set deadlines hoping for the best. And even when we take the “unthinkable” into account, there is still room for error.

Thanks to AI, we can easily come up with more realistic deadlines and project completion dates. An AI-powered project management tool can consider all the data you have so far, even extrapolate from past project plans and deliver the accurate date of completion.

Where do we fit in in all of this?

It’s quite simple: AI is here to mitigate our inherent optimism. And we are here to mitigate the shortcomings of AI. For instance, not accounting for human factors and human errors. Think of AI as a project manager’s invisible assistant. It can do the grunt work, allowing you to focus on the truly important things of project management.

2. Risk Mitigation

Oftentimes, when a project falls behind it’s because of an unexpected system crash. AI can remove this risk upfront, in the project planning phase or during execution.

How, you ask?

Well, there are already a lot of AI-based tools that businesses are using for predictive maintenance. Briefly put, these tools identify the “soft” spots of any system and signal a potential issue before it turns into a real problem. Alternatively, they can work alone on fixing it without any disruption to the project.

3. Better Resource Optimization

Using AI-based tools, project managers can define business rules or even create data models to report and evaluate exceptions. This could be of great use in the transportation and logistics industries.

When you combine machine learning with artificial intelligence, you can easily find routes that minimize fuel costs or/and optimize loads. You can then turn this into models that you can experiment with and improve the data you’ve collected.

4. Filling in Missing Data

A challenge that often goes unmentioned is the sustainability or quality of the data input in the project plan.

Some teams or some team members input minimal data or no data whatsoever into their project management tool. This can cause a butterfly effect that disrupts the entire project. Key members of the team are unaware of the real current status, while the project manager can’t make accurate projections on delivery, costs and resources.

Some teams enter minimal to no data into their project management tools. And even the most disciplined teams have issues with their data being interpreted by machines — maybe they inconsistently name their tasks, or enter minimal information. Whatever the reasons or the maturity of the team, it’s almost a given on that any project management system or toolset, there is missing data or messy, unstructured data.

Even when this data exists, it’s often unstructured and scattered all over the place.

AI can make accurate predictions about the missing data and even insert it in its rightful place. Furthermore, it can gently encourage users to adhere to better, team-oriented practices. Ultimately, AI can even create new layers of metadata that, coupled with machine learning, can not only represent currently unrepresented concepts, but also provide useful advice.

For example, it can advise you on re-assigning tasks and re-allocating resources in order to complete the project faster. Of course, these will be suggestions — not changes made without the project manager’s approval.

What about you? How do you think artificial intelligence is going to change our jobs?