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Artificial Intelligence – PM’s friend or foe? 

The AI landscape is experiencing unprecedented acceleration, with a surge in funding and interest. Technologies such as ChatGPT, Bing AI chatbot, Bard chatbot, Midjourney, and their derivatives aim to productize specific activities based on a common foundation, ultimately shaping the future world.
This article focuses on the positive aspects of AI, particularly in project management. While important issues such as confidentiality, intellectual property, and ethics still need to be addressed, they will not be the primary focus of this discussion.

As a part of Dassault Systèmes, our goal is to create an end-to-end business platform that facilitates a seamless, connected value chain for product and service development. Our digital and interconnected platform provides an ideal environment for AI to showcase its potential and revolutionize our work.

AI as our learning companion

In the 21st century, one of the main challenges for professionals will be to manage the enormous influx of information. Organizations must ensure that employees can work with focus and without distractions. Therefore we need to maximize the learning moments.

/Imagine an AI companion that acts as your tutor and coach, tailored to your interests and learning preferences. The AI would scan, structure, and synthesize relevant information and select the most suitable media formats for your needs. It could notify you when a course you have completed has been updated or refreshed.

/Imagine being able to learn about various topics using natural language, as if you had a personal coach at your side. You could customize your learning sessions, opting for a dedicated one-hour deep dive or a weekly update on a particular topic. This tailored approach would speed up your learning and enable the AI to better understand your interests, similar to how Spotify or iTunes predict music preferences.

In addition, while respecting your privacy, the AI could track your learning progress and contextualize it within broader learning goals or resource management frameworks (refer to AI in resource management). This advancement would allow you to quickly access and revisit any training materials, videos, or notes you have ever consumed.

By serving as a personal learning companion, AI can revolutionize how professionals acquire new knowledge and stay current in their field, ultimately contributing to increased productivity and success in the workplace.

AI to support our communication

Effective communication is crucial for project managers, who must regularly decide when and how to engage with project stakeholders and team members. However, managing communication can be challenging and time-consuming, especially when dealing with sensitive issues such as escalations, customer interactions, or problems requiring higher management attention.

/Imagine that by analyzing the project, AI can provide contextually relevant communication suggestions to stakeholders. This can include managing communications across platforms, such as JIRA ticketing systems or Dassault Systèmes’ collaborative environments, where information is stored in activity pockets, communities, or other team-relevant locations.

Using AI algorithms, project managers can draft and evaluate written communication to identify tone, sentiment, or emotion, ensuring clarity, conciseness, and positivity. The AI can tailor future drafts accordingly as it learns from the user’s style and responses. 

/Imagine Soon, we might interact with our devices using natural language, enabling seamless collaboration with AI for tasks such as controlling routines and preparing presentations. This advancement could even allow project managers to communicate with clients in their native language, as AI could provide accurate, industry-specific translations. Customer presentations and storytelling will benefit from compelling AI graphics that evoke emotion and connection. (example Midjourney prompts)

Such AI-driven communication support will ultimately improve the efficiency and effectiveness of project management.

AI as a Risk Manager

Mastering risk management is one of the most challenging aspects of training within an organization. Individuals often have different risk thresholds, influenced by factors such as their risk tolerance, past experience, cultural background, and more.

/Imagine an AI system that actively monitors your project, integrating with email exchanges, project scheduling, time tracking, and resource allocation. It would be plausible for this AI to alert the project manager when the Cost Performance Index (CPI) starts to drop or to identify new risks as they emerge due to resource fluctuations, project conflicts, or even external events discovered via the web.

/Imagine if AI could support risk mitigation by suggesting actions and communication strategies. With constant awareness of the project’s status, the AI could assess the impact on each stakeholder and present the risks on a comprehensive Risk Management dashboard. The AI could also provide recommendations for action, allowing the project manager to either validate or challenge the reasoning behind each suggestion.

Ultimately, organizations could streamline risk management processes and better navigate potential pitfalls, ensuring a more efficient and successful project outcome.

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AI picking up repeatable tasks

As a project manager, managing projects can involve many repetitive tasks. One of the key responsibilities is monitoring and controlling project performance, which requires keeping data current and performing critical analysis. Project managers often need to delegate tasks to team members upon evaluating the results.

Frequent financial and project KPI reporting is a common demand, often requiring updates to various internal and external stakeholders. Delivering tailored reports to each audience is a time-consuming process. Additionally, external reporting may require exporting and formatting data.

/Imagine the support an AI could provide by learning from these repetitive tasks, recognizing patterns, and improving accuracy over time. This assistance would reduce the time spent on such tasks, allowing project managers to focus on more strategic aspects of their roles.

Project managers also spend time coordinating, often bringing stakeholders together in meetings. Proper preparation and documentation are essential to ensure successful outcomes.

/Imagine an AI tool that captures and synthesizes meeting minutes, and automatically sorts and assigns actions to the appropriate individuals.

All this information would be stored in a centralized, collaborative environment, facilitating seamless follow-up and promoting a continuous, natural flow of project management tasks. Such AI-driven support could revolutionize project management, allowing project managers to focus more on strategic initiatives and improve overall project success.

AI in resource management

Effective Lean Resource Management requires PMs or Resource Managers (RMs) to maintain an up-to-date and comprehensive understanding of their team’s capacity and skills. However, many companies manually perform resource management, with resource allocation linked to projects, validating the execution against the resource plan. Any unplanned changes cause disruption, often requiring the RM’s involvement and investigation. As a result, this model may not scale well, and the success of the RM will depend on their ability to connect and understand resources.

Additionally, the growth aspect of talent is typically managed in separate systems, resulting in a need for more visibility into production experience and soft skills. These gaps represent a missed opportunity to nurture talent in the direction of their interests and qualities.

/Imagine the potential of AI to tap into accumulated knowledge and suggest the best possible allocations based on factors such as location, time zone, experience, skills, and capacity. AI could learn from project execution, identifying what each resource needs for a given task and projecting what they will need for generic assignments. AI could also report against the Work Breakdown Structure to identify systemic over-or under-utilization.

We now have the building blocks to revolutionize Lean Resource Management through AI. With AI maturing to provide intelligence (brain) and 3DEXPERIENCE representing the body, including vital organs, data flow (bloodstream), and the ability to create and deliver output, we can dream of a more efficient and effective resource management system

Analogy

The impact and tools of a PM will improve dramatically. As an analogy, the role of a PM will evolve from hands-on coordination to a supercharged, multi-level analyst and director.

Conclusion

The future for Project Managers looks promising as their role evolves into a central coordinating point connecting multiple stakeholders. PMs will take on the roles of analyst, enabler, and creator while reducing the burden of repetitive tasks and administrative overheads. The focus will shift to relationship management, effective communication, and motivation.

Leadership skills will be the most valuable attributes for PMs to develop, enabling them to manage and inspire their teams to achieve project success effectively. With reduced administrative tasks and a focus on cultivating relationships, PMs will have more time to invest in developing their leadership skills, which will be critical to delivering projects in a constantly evolving business environment.

Please note that ChatGPT (GPT4) and Midjourney AI were used to support the creation of this article.

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