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The future of AI in Project Management and how to get ahead of the curve

Published on: 6 May 2024

Technology is changing and developing more rapidly than ever before – in fact it was only last year that Chat-GPT was released to the public, and since then, countless more AI tools have exploded into the market. New technologies and software will soon become the norm in life as well as the workplace, and project management isn’t an exception. There are various changes in technology that will shape and continue to change project management. Let’s explore some of these here.

The future of AI in Project

Instant communication: Perhaps this is something we often overlook because we’ve become so used to it. Advances in communication technology through instant messaging, email, telephone, video calls, and more have given us the opportunity to reach a wider pool of talent across the world. Since people can work from any location, whether in your own home or on the road, the way project teams interact has changed and will continue to change rapidly.

Projects can now be managed more flexibly, and tasks delegated more effectively with a global workforce. New technology also allows us to access onsite projects remotely, changing the scope of how projects can be delivered. Projects and project teams aren’t limited to location, globalisation is happening as we speak; soon GPS tracking, drones, satellites and ‘smart’ devices will help projects in innovative ways as technology develops.

Budget management: Can you imagine a time without Excel? Back when they were first released, Excel spreadsheets were revolutionary for keeping track of expenses and budgets, and they are now an essential part of any business. But the formulas are often complicated, especially when there are lots of different budgets and resources to manage.

New software and business budgeting tools have simplified that even further – they’ll build in the formulas for you, and many can be streamlined to work across different projects and programmes, making budget tracking easier than ever.

Decision making and problem solving with data: Data capture is becoming more accurate than before; businesses and organisations are also realising the value data can bring. Data can show industry trends, customer behaviour, time constraints, resource allowance and so much more – and this alters decision making and problem solving.

As a project, programme or portfolio manager, data is key to understanding what’s working and what isn’t. As technology continue to develop, more meaningful and accurate data can be gathered. Not only will this be easier to understand, but data analytics-based decision-making by AI is a reality – imagine a computer making decisions for you? Or solving complex problems? This gives you the time and efficiency to change your approach during the project lifecycle to deliver the desired outcomes of a business’s strategy more effectively.

There are many other ways in which technology and AI are reshaping how projects, programmes and portfolios will be delivered, but there’s another burning question we need to answer. What does all of this mean for project professionals? And how can you stay ahead of the curve?

How to prepare for the era of AI

As AI integrations continues, project, programme and portfolio professionals must proactively develop their skills to ensure they stay ahead of the curve. Here are some of the strategies you can follow to prepare for the inevitable:

  1. Stay informed about AI and emerging technology. It’s so important to make sure you’re aware of what’s going on in the world of technology. Subscribing to newsletters, attending events and following research is a great way to keep yourself at the forefront of new developments. AI is reshaping the world; it can affect different sectors in different ways, and having a solid grasp on what’s going on will help you find solutions during projects.
  2. Figure out machine learning and programming. You don’t need to know everything, but it’ll definitely help you to know some things. Do you know what machine learning is? Kind of? It’s a good idea to read up on machine learning and new advancements so you can understand it’s capability. Understanding programme languages, like R and Python, can also help you leverage AI in projects. There are lots of free resources and courses that you should explore to deepen your understanding.
  3. Learn what AI ethics are. Now that AI and machine learning are becoming more common in organisations, there are important issues to consider. For example, bias in AI algorithms and data privacy. Being well-informed about AI ethics and responsible AI practices will help you make informed decisions, ensuring that projects align with ethical and legal regulations.
  4. Brush up your soft skills. New technology and AI leave you with more time to focus on the people side of project management. Focus on honing your soft skills, for example how well you can influence a team as an effective leader with great communication skills. And remember, it’s vital to continue to improve these soft skills alongside new technology and AI that are changing our world. For example, how would you lead a team of people who have never met? Through Teams? A group chat? Another piece of software?
  5. Foster a culture of experimenting. Building a culture of continuous learning so you, and your team, can embrace AI is crucial. You’ve got to get some hands-on experience, so if there is new software and technology available, have a go and try it out – the more you’re exposed, the easier it’ll be to see how they can help you. Encourage your team to explore AI as well and share your insights in a collaborative way.

AI is here to stay - in new and exciting ways we’re beginning to see more of. By focusing on understanding the fundamentals of AI, you can move forwards in preparation for this new era. Getting real experience, developing your soft skills, and diving into the data will help you develop robust knowledge and experience so that you can navigate the evolving landscape of AI in project management.

Explore APM’s resources on AI in project management.