The Role Of AI And The PMO

Artificial intelligence (AI) is on the rise in today’s world. From the personal assistant “Siri” to Tesla and the self-driving car, AI is far past its initial phase of discovery and into real-life practice. In the consumer world, AI has become part of our everyday lives. For example, the home screen of your Netflix account uses AI to identify and offer recommendations based on interests, choices, and behavior. 

But, AI isn’t only part of the consumer landscape, but of the business landscape as well. More specifically, AI has become a hot topic in the world of project management offices (PMO) and more specifically project portfolio management processes.

Let’s take a look at why

Projects are an ideal environment for AI. With a data rich environment, AI is able to digest project and portfolio data to quickly identify key learnings and insights to improve overall execution. When you’ve got the data, it’s fuel for AI to consume and generate real value for the business.

This is a shift from project management to project leadership. Leadership that will allow project leaders to analyze the results of what happened in the past including identifying early signs of project failure and make actionable recommendations.

Over the last year, organizations have been limited by many things including people, resources, or money. That ultimately means that every single resource and dollar has to be able to generate the most value possible.

AI is a tool to do just that by interpreting data and being a resource that allows your more expensive and more valuable resources, your people, to focus their energy and time into where they can make more of a different.

The idea of AI for project managers and PMOs supports multiple elements of project delivery including making it better, making it more successful and achieving those desired business outcomes. Let’s look at the impact of AI on PMs and PMOs, including:

Reduce Uncertainty

This all starts by leveraging historical information from a centralized database of historic project data, like from a project portfolio management solution. The more complete that project data is the more helpful the insights AI will be able to deliver.

If you don’t currently have that historical data of your projects, machine learning can take all of your current projects and start reviewing that information and start providing new trends and identifying existing trends so you can improve.

AI can be applied to multiple aspects of project and PMO performance including risks, budget, schedule, resources, etc. The more you use AI, the more you can trust and rely on the data it is providing.

The Impact

PMOs and project teams are expected to deliver more and faster. In the PMO Outlook Report – 2021 Edition, 44% of project practitioners cited scope creep or unrealistic deadlines as the most common reason for project failure.

Now, what if you were able to identify those project failure indicators prior to them occurring and adjust to meet realistic demands based on real-time data analysis from AI? It’s true, people tend to be naturally optimistic about everything including project deadlines and resource capacity.

AI can help reduce that human uncertainty that comes with an optimistic attitude and replace it with real data and information to back it up.

Increase Return on Investment

For many organizations and PMOs, it’s all about the bottom line. Good news here is AI is sure to increase your return on investment. With greater visibility of what can and should be done, AI leverages the data to drive strategic decisions with a greater understanding to make better investments.

This means the right work at the right time and in the right way. Since AI is always “working” it’s easier to make adjustments and pivot to deliver improved business outcomes both internally and externally.

The Impact

With the accelerating world, PMOs are faced with less time to deliver and less time to achieve benefits. Digital transformation is happening. Project management industry guru, Andy Jordan, stated “Digital transformation is a huge thing. It’s not a huge thing for you – it’s a huge thing for your competitors. AI is a critical element that you have to take advantage of it.” There is less room for error than ever before, so leveraging AI data to work on the right projects at the right time leveraging the right resources is key.

Eliminate Inconsistency

To start, you can identify the key areas your PMO can leverage AI to eliminate those inconsistencies. Once you identify the areas you think AI would have the most impact on your business, it’s then time to apply it consistently.

Once applied, review and adjust often and trust the data. The key with AI is to trust the data and trust the insights AI is delivering. Again, the more you use it – the more you can trust and rely on it.

The Impact

Machines don’t have bad days or make mistakes. They don’t care about feelings or play politics. By ultimately relying solely on the data, your PMO and your business will eliminate those often unnoticed or unrecognized biases that exist and are often incorrectly supported. With AI, data does the talking and your PMO is able to do the walking.

Improve Projections

Understand the parts of what actually happened in the past with projects. By applying AI to all aspects of the project’s journey, from planning to benefits realization, you are able to take that information and apply actionable insights for future projects.

The whole picture is important including, the what, when, how, etc. – AI can give you that picture with real data analysis to optimize your project performance with much greater confidence.  Using AI in this way can fundamentally change the way projects get delivered for the better.

The Impact

By improving projections, your PMO can avoid missed deadlines, reduce resource shortfalls, improve overall project planning, and gain greater business and project alignment for strategically aligned benefit realization.

These impacts are bound to be enticing for any PMO leader out there, but there are challenges with implementing AI. The major challenge is trust. Trust in the data, trust in the insights AI delivers and trust that it will ultimately deliver the four impacts listed above and more. As stated earlier, the more data that AI has to digest the better your results. Let that sink in as you weigh the benefits AI may have in your PMO. 

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, AI builds on your projects successes and identifies those areas of opportunity. The greatest benefit of AI for PMOs is that it uses your data to unlock the possibilities listed above, not generic industry standards.

Every business and every PMO is run differently, so it’s not easy to compare apples to apples. But with AI, your PMO will be able to implement little changes to incrementally build on your current success and deliver even greater business results. Learn more about the role of AI and the PMO in this recent webcast.

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