Impact of Artificial intelligence on Project Management

Have you been also thinking if project management sector is also ripe for disruption? I have been. Not that basic principles will change but how we do it. Today, we can say that three industrial revolutions hugely improved the living standard and changed the societies in unimaginable ways although it must have been tough at the time to adapt to. We enjoy many benefits of industrial revolutions such as access to energy, fast and reliable transportation, affordable goods due to mass-manufacturing and Internet. No doubt, benefits came with huge cost. Every revolution disrupted the society with changes in work practices, opening new frontiers, introducing uncertainties, at the same time rate of change has been increasing at break neck speed, social systems are struggling to keep up and anything that is couple of years old today seems to lose relevancy.

Technological advances, innovation, cheaper access to computational power and availability of data have made current situation ripe for next revolution. Root of this revolution is digitization as it has enabled us to create a virtual world where we can not only connect to our physical world but see future through predictions.

Fourth industrial revolutions is called by many industry experts as Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution.  It encompasses connected systems, automation of production line consuming  sensor data and intelligence to make decisions based on data. This has opened doors for predictive maintenance, inventory control, improved co-ordination between plant floor and management, and higher shareholder value to better decision making. Good thing is, all the improvements and lesson learned are part of feedback mechanism to gradually improve the results through self learning system that AI will bring changing the way industries produce, manufacture and deliver.

“How does this influence project / product management?”, is the obvious question you will be asking next.

In my opinion, two ways – first is directly in form of improved project management tools and second, indirectly in form of the sector we work in. Let me elaborate a little.

Project management tools incorporate many automation routines but availability of the Internet, access to big data and capabilities of AI offer a powerful combo. How we manage and control project management tasks are going to be influenced by this combo.  Project management tools of future will no longer be simply user driven, somewhat automated but would be connected systems, offering predictions, adding intelligence and always improving through interactions. Project plans would integrate with calendars, finance systems, procurement systems, risk and issue logs and other task management apps and keep intelligently updating plan and learning all along.  A Siri or Alexa kind of voice activated bot would quickly analyze and answer any question a stakeholder might have. Project planning will be more robust and stakeholders will learn quickly about roadblocks, informing about scheduling risks and prediction based on multiple scenarios with data driven confidence level instead of gut-feels. Project management tool  will be able to schedule meetings based on tasks, include relevant stakeholders, seek input and share updates.

Indirect influence of AI is coming sooner than later. As companies are finding value in data and insights it can provide, Internet of Things (IoT), sensor data and digital transformation of businesses make use of Machine Learning (ML), an essential step to survive Industry 4.0 wave. As AI/ML capable infrastructure and applications are being brought into organizations, these current and future projects would need new project management mind-set.

As teams are becoming agile in nature, project managers are assuming product manager role, organizing work breakdown structure and gathering business requirements would evolve from classic way to  framing the business problem, articulate the value proposition, data collection from data scientist’s point of view, orienting project around business models & algorithm strategy.

Since the discussion is completely altering how business problems could be solved, project manager would need to carefully analyze the problem by asking question, like, could the business problem be solved by other means that are faster and easier to build than AI, understanding the  data and sources, choice of algorithm(s), understanding of biases in the design and working with some new roles like Data Scientists, Statisticians, Domain Experts and Engineers.

In short, it is a new frontier for project managers when dealing with an AI project and project managers got to be more technical and domain aware.

Project management covers many domains and knowledge areas and a project manager is subject matter expert of integrating discipline with deliverables. Technology alone will not ensure success but certain attributes that a PM can offers such as project leadership, stakeholder management, negotiation skills, and empathy would keep him or her an indispensable for the business.

To summarize, my take is project managers will get a lot of assistance in way of better and improved project management tools, letting them focus on what is critical. Role will evolve from managing and controlling to collaborating and contributing while managing the stakeholder expectations.  Project managers who will succeed in Industry 4.0 revolution will likely be those who manage to embrace the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning aspects of the business needs, being technically savvy, and seeing how a solution can add value not only to business but also to the data engineering and data science teams.

Bill Clinton Says Project Managers Help Tackle Global Challenges – Voices on Project Management

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton sent out a powerful message: Project managers will play a significant role in taking on the toughest global challenges.

Bill Clinton Says Project Managers Help Tackle Global Challenges – Voices on Project Management.

15 Ground Rules for Project Team Management

People with diverse professional experiences and background have totally unique perspective on any issue.  When a new team is assembled for any project, its vital for the success of that project that all team member are aware of  the ground-rules for the project; similar to any sport.  You may have to read it to team and give a copy for reference.

Here is an example list that I have used for a project to keep team aligned.    Such ground-rules certainly eliminate unnecessary confusion and your business customer and team members like it defined beforehand.  Make sure, you also follow it and implement it.

  1. Project manager is the primary contact for any project related communication.
  2. All team members maintain their contact info on the team contact list with contact preference.
  3. All members attend required meetings and conference calls; if unable to attend, meeting organizer to be notified.  If key contributor is unable to attend, request to reschedule the meeting.
  4. Any planned day off or vacation must be communicated in advance to project manager so that project plan can be updated and impact to work, if any, can be analyzed.
  5. All project team members have access to project plan and  project logs (in a standard document format) and are aware of the assigned tasks and due dates.
  6. All team members are to be consulted about the reasonableness of the plan prior to management approval.
  7. All team members are required to validate their assignments and time allocated prior to the plan is baselined.
  8. All project team members have the responsibility to proactively notify the project manager about tasks, duration or dependencies they believe are missing (or any other needed changes to the plan) and confront issues directly and promptly.
  9. Project team members have the responsibility to notify any potential difficulties in meeting the schedule for any assigned tasks as soon as it is known by the team member.
  10. Each project team member is responsible for ensuring anticipated workload conflicts with other assignments are brought to the attention of the project manager.  Team members should ask for help if feeling “stuck” or falling behind the schedule instead of waiting for miracle.
  11. All team members are responsible to own, follow-up and provide updates on the assigned task (including but not limited to any identified risks, issues, changes, approvals, clarification from customer).  If any delay is observed, escalate to project manager.
  12. All  meeting minutes, key decisions, assumptions and business rules must be documented and all action items must be followed up and assigned to a resource with expected completion date. These items are usually mentioned in casual conversation.
  13. All project team members understand the scope of work.  Any work performed must be in the project plan and is in the project scope.  Anything that is absolutely needed but not part of the project plan, must be brought into project manager’s attention.
  14. All project team members confront issues directly and promptly.
  15. Only project manager submits all final deliverables to business customer for sign-off or approval.

What are other key things that you have found useful and we can add to this list?

Thank you for your visit and have a great day!

11 Principles of Leadership

 I came across 11 leadership principles of Marine Corps in Guide Book for Marines on the Internet and here is my interpretation of 11 principles.  I am interested in hearing from Marines about their leadership experience. 

  1. Take responsibility – we need to seek and take responsibilities if we need to grow; never shy away, whatever seems challenging will help you expand your perspective.
  2. Know yourself – reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses; seek improvement and understand that you can achieve only those goals that you set.
  3. Set an example– conduct your business in a professional manner; do not loose temper – small minds are bothered by small problems; not only work in your job but also work on your job as well.  Be a brand that people want to associate with.
  4. Develop your subordinates– consider this as part of your job; learn to delegate; as Zig Ziglar said “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want“; give them opportunities to learn & grow;  guide them if they fit somewhere else.
  5. Be available – in every respect; be available to listen to problems and challenges people are facing; to motivate, to lead and to show right direction; to hear criticism; to take decisions and to act on time.
  6. Look after the welfare of your employees – the way you want your boss to look after your welfare; develop emotional intelligence; connect with people and find out what motivates them; do something that touches their lives; help them when they are in need.  Arrogance and ignorance will not take you to the top or won’t keep you there for long.
  7. Keep everyone well informed  – right communication is the key; make sure that the tasks are understood, supervised and accomplished on time and tell why you need all this done; do no assume –  aks and tell.
  8. Set goals that are achievable – always set the goals – people need to know what they are expected to deliver and by when; let people figure out how;  goals should motivate teams to act; measure the results and reward people.
  9. Make sound and timely decisions– that are aligned with the core principles of your organization and with your job descriptions; there will always be more than one right answer – choose the one that benefits the most and not only you; take decisions like a servant leader.
  10. Know your job – be technically and tactically proficient in your job; know your people; know the processes and challenges; know how can you add value to the organization or your department.
  11. Build teamwork– not all people can perform equally but they should complement each other while working towards a common goal; promote team work and diversity; shield your team from external pressure; be flexible with team.

“Leadership is intangible, hard to measure, and difficult to describe. It’s quality would seem to stem from many factors. But certainly they must include a measure of inherent ability to control and direct, self-confidence based on expert knowledge, initiative, loyalty, pride and sense of responsibility. Inherent ability cannot be instilled, but that which is latent or dormant can be developed. Other ingredients can be acquired. They are not easily learned. But leaders can be and are made.” – General C. B. Cates, 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps

Thanks for reading and welcome your input.  Have a great day.

Quotes for Managers

 

Here are 6 quotes for I.T. managers from Norman R. Augustine

  1. Hardware works best when it matters the least.
  2. A revised schedule is to business what a new season is to an athlete or a new canvas to an artist.
  3. One of the most feared expressions in modern times is ”The computer is down”.
  4. It has been wisely said that the world is not interested in the storms you encountered but in whether you brought the ship in safely.
  5. If a sufficient number of management layers are superimposed on top of each other, it can be assured that disaster is not left to chance.
  6. The last 10 percent of performance generates one-third of the cost and two-thirds of the problems.

Thank you for visiting and have a great day.

Changepoint and PPM

Last week I completed Compuware Changepoint training. I had read earlier that Changepoint is in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (leaders) for PPM tools.

Changepoint is a web based tool for project and portfolio management.  The tool enables leadership make right decisions based on dynamic metrics of various initiatives and what value these initiatives add; and realignment of IT efforts with business strategy and vision.  Tool is very intuitive and scalable. 

In Project and Portfolio management, complexity is the key factor that makes changes difficult and time consuming. Just imagine multiple projects going on in  your organization with resources scattered around the teams (or Globe) and you are tracking the progress and reporting the metrics to the upper management.  Management wants to see  report on  status of all the projects underway, return on investment for each project, supply and demand, resource utilization, change management, issues and risks to the projects, etc. to make informed decision on project priorities, strategic planning and funding.

Changepoint makes all the aspect of program management easier by effectively managing your projects and applications, resources and client relationships.  You can find out more at Compuware website.

Disclaimer – I am a Compuware employee and opinions expressed here are my own.