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AI & Project Management: Where’s it all going?

P3M & Data

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT and Midjourney are fast becoming ubiquitous. Everywhere you look there’s an AI generated image, report or analysis and the technology, which just a few months ago was relatively unknown, is now spawning new terms and even new jobs, such as ‘prompt engineering.’

So, what does the tidal wave of change caused by advances in AI mean for more established professions such as Project, Programme and Portfolio Management (P3M)?

From a first glance, you might conclude that P3M professionals are no longer required. After all, AI can write convincing highlight reports, monitor data and alarm when tolerances are exceeded, produce brilliant resource-levelled plans and can even code software. What more do you need?

Well (for the moment at least) quite a lot. AI (currently) lacks the human qualities necessary to build and maintain the relationships vital to stakeholder management and project team development. Perhaps more importantly, AI cannot yet be trusted with key decision making, particularly in business critical situations. If the data on which it is trained cannot be fully relied upon, then neither can the conclusions it draws – human interpretation and judgement is still required.

That doesn’t mean that AI won’t revolutionise P3M though…

…Far from it, projects, programmes and portfolios generate huge amounts of data that AI tools can analyse in a far more efficient and effective way than is possible using traditional manual methods. Using AI to analyse quantitative (numerical) data such as project timelines, budgets, and performance metrics can help identify trends, patterns, and anomalies that can provide insights into project health, progress, and potential risks.

Qualitatively, Natural Language Processing (NLP) can be used to perform tasks such as text summarisation and question-answering, and sentiment analysis can help project managers understand the concerns and issues of customers and stakeholders from documented feedback, enabling better informed and more timely decision making.

AI then will not replace P3M professionals for the foreseeable future. It does, however, offer the opportunity to gain a view of a project’s status that is more holistic and accurate than has ever been possible before. The use of it in P3M thus enables better informed and more proactive decision making, increasing project performance and the chances of project success.

By Mark Dalrymple-Smith, Head of Portfolio, Programme and Project Management at CMC Partnership Consultancy

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