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Harnessing AI in project management: How to maximise impact and increase efficiency

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming a pivotal tool in numerous industries, and project management is no exception. AI offers the potential to transform the landscape of project management, making operations more efficient, reducing errors, and providing insights that were previously unattainable through conventional methods.

In our recent webinar, ‘How to harness AI in project management and maximise its impact’, we ran a quick poll, which found that just under 7% of viewers were very confident using AI, with the majority of people feeling unsure (52%) or slightly confident (41%) about using AI in their work.

However, according to our 2024 research report, 77% of organisations say AI is the most in-demand skill for their business. This shows that developing these AI skills and boosting AI confidence is not only sought after but also offers many advantages.

The role of AI in project management

Currently, the primary functions of AI in project management are to automate repetitive tasks, enhance decision-making through data analysis, and improve communication across distributed teams. Here are some key applications:

Task automation

AI can automate routine tasks such as scheduling, updating project statuses, and generating reports. This not only speeds up processes but gives project managers time to focus on more complex, strategic activities.

Advanced data analysis

Using AI, project managers can gain deeper insights into project trends, identify risks, and predict project outcomes. AI has the potential to analyse vast amounts of data, identifying patterns that would typically elude human analysis, offering predictive insights that can help make proactive decisions.

Enhancing collaboration

AI tools can facilitate better collaboration among globally distributed teams. Features such as real-time updates, language translation, and meeting summarisation ensure that all team members are on the same page, regardless of their physical location.

Benefits of using AI in project management

Increased efficiency

By automating routine tasks, AI reduces the time spent on administrative duties, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing the likelihood of human error. This is currently the biggest focus for AI, with 70% of usage centred on automating repetitive project management tasks.

AI can create meeting minutes, summarise discussions, and generate reports, all of which can save project managers a great deal of time, allowing them to focus on impact-generating activities such as strategic decision-making.

The technology can also help increase efficiency by coordinating stakeholder meetings and providing more visibility into key areas for stakeholder engagement. This makes it easier to understand project progress and eliminates the lengthy process of chasing information.

Improved risk management

AI’s predictive capabilities enable early identification of potential risks and bottlenecks, allowing teams to mitigate issues before they become problematic.

One of the biggest challenges project managers face is accurately estimating timelines and budgets, risking the success of any project if not executed effectively. However, AI can support this by assessing large amounts of past project data to improve risk assessment and develop more accurate forecasting.

Another way AI can help improve risk management is through resource allocation. AI can support predictive allocation, intelligent scheduling, and dynamic load balancing, which can help mitigate some of the challenges, and potential risks, associated with ineffective resource management.

Data-driven decisions

AI enhances decision-making by providing data-driven insights. Project managers can leverage AI to better understand project dynamics and make informed decisions that align with their strategic objectives.

The technology can also support cost-benefit analysis and the understanding and manipulation of large data sets, by providing project managers with the data and information they need to make key decisions.

Challenges and considerations when using AI

Job displacement and the human factor

There is a concern that AI’s ability to automate and conduct tasks could lead to job displacement. One of our research insights, discussed in the webinar, found that 64% of organisations say employees are concerned they’ll lose their jobs to AI.

In project management, there are certainly elements of the role that AI can conduct and will likely be able to perform independently in the future. But, while AI can significantly enhance efficiency, the human aspect of project management remains indispensable. Leadership, empathy, and strategic decision-making are all aspects of project management that AI cannot replicate.

As Professor Richard Baldwin says, “AI will not replace you. A person using AI will.”

Integration complexity and automation bias

Incorporating AI into existing project management frameworks can be complex and may require significant adjustments in processes and training.

Further adding to this challenge, is the complication of navigating any potential automation bias from AI algorithms, which may create unfair or ill-considered decisions. This needs to be carefully considered, especially when planning the implementation of complex project management frameworks.

Data privacy and security

Utilising AI necessitates handling substantial amounts of data, raising concerns about data privacy and security. It is essential to ensure the AI systems you’re using comply with relevant laws and regulations.

As AI utilises high volumes of data for its success, it is important to understand the implications this may have for intellectual property. Before using any AI software ensure that the necessary permissions and licenses are obtained, and that copyright laws are adhered to.

Skills gaps and opportunities

In our webinar, we shared that 76% of employees believe it’s a challenge to keep up with technical developments, and one of the biggest concerns about AI is the skills needed to implement and harness the technology to its full potential.

However, with training and experience, the use of AI can open the door to new opportunities in project management and may also create new roles in emerging fields.

The future of AI in project management

As AI technology advances, its integration into project management is expected to deepen, and more sophisticated tools and capabilities will likely emerge. Future trends may include more advanced AI analytics for real-time project adjustments, increased use of AI for team interactions, and even greater automation of complex tasks.

If you’re keen to get started in AI today, these are some of the tools we’d recommend:

  • Microsoft 365 CoPilot: Can streamline tasks and automate workflow
  • Google Gemini: Can simplify complex ideas and generate code
  • Anthropic Claude: Offers simplification and context on large documents and datasets
  • Meta LLaMa: A similar tool to ChatGPT that offers fast outputs and automation
  • ChatGPT: Answers questions, creates content and reports
  • Gamma: Develops slide decks for presentations
  • GraphMaker: Uses filtered data and turns it into visual representations
  • MonkeyLearn: Can create visuals, word clouds and topic lists based on customer feedback
  • Kimola: Offers market research reports based on its web-scraping functionalities

AI holds tremendous potential to revolutionise project management. By automating routine tasks, providing insightful analytics, and enhancing team collaboration, AI can significantly boost the efficiency and effectiveness of project management practices.

However, it's important to navigate the challenges carefully, particularly regarding integration, data security, and maintaining the crucial human element in project management. With thoughtful implementation, AI can be a powerful ally in the quest for more efficient and effective project management.

Watch our recent webinar, ‘How to harness AI in project management and maximise its impact’, in conjunction with PeopleCert to find out more.