AI-powered Project Management – is the future already here?

Nuclear fusion, quantum computing…newspaper headlines have often breathlessly announced the future is here, with the reality usually more mundane. But has artificial intelligence (AI) finally become a real-life game-changer? 

From the viral picture of the Pope wearing a puffa jacket generated by the likes of Midjourney to the rise of ChatGPT and the soft launch of Google Bard and Microsoft’s Copilot, since the end of 2022, we’ve all seen a huge increase in news in terms of AI and machine- and deep-learning tools and different use cases/applications they can offer.

Working in Project Management where I work across several teams, I’m always looking to continually improve, standardise, and be more efficient in my work. So it got me thinking: could any of these AI tools practically benefit project management now, and what kind of things will we likely see more of in the coming months?

In summary, an AI success 

With hybrid working now standard, not to mention the sustainability benefits of not always having in-person meetings, video conferencing is here to stay. Project Managers usually lead calls, ensure there’s an agenda to follow, take notes, and provide summaries/actions post-meeting. AI services like Otter and Notion can now automatically take the transcript from video calls and process this to create a summary along with next steps. Making it a great way to embed AI into the Project Management routine without doing very much at all.

But – and there is always a big but when it comes to AI – this doesn’t mean the work is necessarily done. Everything should always be reviewed by a human as the tools can be prone to error. What it can do is to save project managers heaps of time, giving us a good ‘starter for ten’ and allow us to be more strategic and focus on other areas of project management that AI isn’t so involved in (yet).

The writing is on the wall

Not only summarising notes, AI can also help with responses to clients by improving our writing skills. Writing tools have been around for a while (Grammarly is probably the most popular) but new AI tools go a step further. Writer's block and procrastination might become a thing of the past: with AI, you can find instant inspiration just by entering a few prompts. 

AI has even been successful in helping people fight parking fines so it’s more than capable of creating an outline email for a client or using it to help explain a complex matter in layman’s terms. As above, the same caveat applies, it’s about using the tools to help create a robust draft to build on, which can only help us develop further individually.

The timing is right

One of the most time-consuming tasks in Project Manager is organising multiple meetings with multiple people involving searching through and double-checking multiple calendars simultaneously. There’s now an AI assistant for that – try Sidekick

Project management tools, plus

This is only the tip of the iceberg; AI will almost certainly be embedded into almost all project management applications. ClickUp has announced its own AI service that will offer all the above and more – within a familiar interface that’s already used by many companies including Cyber-Duck. We’re just starting to see the rollout and the real time saver will be automating more complex and time-consuming tasks. 

Resourcing better

Resource management takes up a lot of time and effort, however, solutions such as Epicflow are now available to manage this using AI; including capacity utilisation, priority management and project health analysis to name but a few. Imagine automating the weekly schedule across project teams. Tools can now determine priorities, eliminating the need for discussions on what is most important. Finished one task but blocked on another? AI can tell you what to work on and when.

Not so risky business

Extending AI services even further, we can use AI powered products like Wrike to create detailed risk registers, complete with risk descriptions, likelihood and impact ratings, and mitigation strategies. AI identifying risks we might not have thought of will help reduce the unknowns in projects and give confidence in our decisions. Strategies can be difficult to work out for certain risks and this will save time trying to work from a blank canvas.

AI yes, caution for success

Personally, I’m excited about the use of AI within project management. It has so much potential reach across various fields, from user experience (UX) to creative to development. My Cyber-Duck UX designer colleague James Martinhas recently written an article looking at how current iterations AI might – or might not – be used for UX

Our development team has been looking at a variety of different AI coding tools like GitHub Copilot to see where it might support writing code. What we do know is that AI, if used with a critical lens, will allow us to scale our abilities and support the work we do. So from that perspective, the future is most definitely here.