Project & Programme Management

Can AI drive productivity in project management?

AI is here and it's transforming project management. In this article we take a look at how artificial intelligence could help businesses drive productivity.

AI is rapidly transforming the world of work, and project management is no exception. AI can be used to automate tasks, identify and mitigate risks, predict project outcomes, and improve communication and collaboration. The world as we know it is disappearing so quickly, and it’s predicted that 65 per cent of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist!

That, however, doesn’t change the fact that it’s predicted we’ll have 5.5 million  underskilled project management professionals by 2030, which is one of the largest across the economy.

Organisations need to acknowledge that the skills its project management workforce has today are not the skills it needs tomorrow, and they must react radically now to avoid falling foul to an impending skills hole.

Productivity in project management; it’s a huge issue

The rate of successful project delivery in terms of effectiveness and efficiency remains alarmingly low, at. An extravagant amount of time, money, and opportunity is wasted, and analysis concludes that the probability of a project being delivered on budget, on time, and delivering the full benefits defined in the business case is . That is only 1 in 200 projects delivering on all their promises, so the scope to improve the initiation and delivery of projects is huge, as is the scale of the economic impact.

Could AI be the saving grace in the project management productivity crisis?

We live in exponential times where the rate of change is accelerating. Following a launch in 1999, Netflix took 3.5 years to achieve 1 million users. Spotify took 5 months from launch in 2008. ChatGPT took 5 days. Threads took 1 hour.

In times where rapid evolution is the norm and an expectation, you need to harness everything at your disposal to improve productivity across your workforce, particularly your project management function, to ensure you can pivot with the everchanging market.

There are many reports about the potential impact of technology such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) on the future of jobs. And there is a serious undertone from tech experts such as Jack Ma, Alibaba, that technology is impacting the future of work. In November 2023, Elon Musk told the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that

Tye Brady, Amazon’s chief robotics technologist discussed his thoughts about robotics replacing humans. He suggests robots and AI replacing humans was a myth, and ‘the challenge that we have in front of us is how do we smartly design our machines to extend human capability’. And instead of focusing on what AI and robotics will replace, he thinks about this as ‘a symphony of humans and machines working together…you need both.’

This is a view the reiterated by the Q3 2023 “What CEOs talked about” report, where three themes gained noticeable traction in earnings calls in Q3 2023:

  1. AI and most of its related application topics
  2. AI chips
  3. Sustainability

This has shifted throughout 2023, with the first quarter showcasing ChatGPT as the hot new (AI) topic for CEOs. In Q2, generative AI shared the stage with ChatGPT as AI proponents discussed other generative LLMs. Now, in Q3, ChatGPT is no longer the hot topic, as organisations realise that ChatGPT is just one tool of many in the new AI portfolio.

Within technology adoption, big data, cloud computing and AI feature highly on likelihood of adoption. More than 75% of companies are looking to adopt these technologies in the next five years.

While data-enabled decision-making and using data to make better decisions is a great step forward for product management and something that will actively increase, it’s important that we don’t get too obsessed with certainty when certainty does not exist – AI is still incredibly new, and although it's here to stay, we’re on a journey.

It’s highly unlikely that automation will ever negate the need for a project management workforce. It’ll instead be a game-changer that unlocks unprecedented efficiencies and capabilities in project delivery.

Harnessing the power of AI, alongside the PRINCE2 methodology, can help automate certain project management tasks, whether that is supporting decision-making through additional insights or automating routine transactions. This helps reduce or manage the uncertainty and ambiguity typically associated with projects, and harness data to drive innovation through the principles of PRINCE2.

PRINCE2 7 is ‘AI ready’, enabling its use through a requirement for a digital and data management approach for the project . The digital and data management approach is integrated in the method through all of the , enabling a proactive approach to including the use of AI in projects and ensuring that AI is integrated with the other management approaches, for example risk management, to boost productivity.

QA are the UK’s largest provider of PRINCE2 project management training, and can assist you in developing standardised workforce mentality and practice towards project management. Contact us today to find out more.

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