3 Ways AI Helps Project Managers

  • Mar 08,2018
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Photo by Headway on Unsplash.

We’ve heard about artificial intelligence (AI) helping doctors diagnose patients and making predictions for analysts. We should add project managers to the list of professionals who benefit from AI.

AI is helping project managers to be more productive than ever before. In this blog post, we’ll highlight the three ways AI is an asset, not a threat, to project managers.

1. Eliminate information bias

Humans are emotional, and we let our personal feelings and biases influence our decisions even when we’re dealing with numbers. “It’s easy to confirm your own opinions,” John Heintz, CEO of Aptage, explained in a recent Computerworld article. “I got the answer I expected, and I agree with myself.” This attitude is problematic when you’re trying to make informed business decisions about profitability, staff utilization, or realization.

Enter AI. It doesn’t have opinions. It’s not trying to sway the data to confirm your view or disprove someone else’s. The result is more accurate information without personal biases or human error.

2. Use emotional intelligence

All too often project managers get bogged down with numbers and neglect the human-side of management. That’s a shame. Managers should manage, and leave the laborious number-crunching for AI, which can sort through mounds of data and find patterns faster and better than a human. IBM’s Watson, for example, can “read 200 million pages of text in 3 seconds.”

Now you can regain your focus on the highly-human aspects of project management, like identifying the right staffers for a project, determining the tasks for each project, and monitoring progress. Certainly these decisions are influenced by the numbers. But subjective considerations—like interpersonal relationships among teammates—are equally important. A project can look great financially, but it’ll be a disaster if it’s stacked with people who can’t work well together. Emotional intelligence matters, and AI gives you the freedom to redirect your time and energy to these important considerations.

3. Be creative

Know where AI can help your business and where you need to step in as an innovative project manager. AI is great at predicting future trends and outcomes when it has mounds of data to work with, but these predictions aren’t as helpful when there’s little of it to use. For example, determining monthly profitability will be more accurate with three years’ worth of data instead of three months’ worth.

Here is where good project managers shine: use the resources you do have to plan for the future, which may involve some creativity. Say you’re unsure if you’ll be cash flow positive next month, but you know that you’ll need some extra help to meet an important project deadline.

So you turn to any number of freelancing websites and find a gig worker to take on some work for the next two weeks. You get the help you need without the expense of hiring a full-time employee. This human-centric solution underscores the important role of project managers today.

We’ve been here before. The ubiquity of personal computers in the workplace has made everyone’s job quicker and easier. Instead of writing a report on a notepad and typing the final copy on a typewriter, you do everything in Google Drive or Word. The same is true for AI and project management. AI is a tool that makes managing a project more efficient and effective.