Five Reasons Why AI is Not a Replacement for Project Managers [It is a tool].

AI is one of the most talked about advancements, and everyone has an opinion on the future.  Today, I want to dive in on what has been on my mind regarding the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in project management. There’s been heaps of buzz around AI taking over jobs across various industries, and project management is no exception. However, I firmly believe AI is here to boost our capabilities as project managers, NOT replace us. In this blog post, I will explain, from my perspective, why AI will be a powerful tool to make project managers more efficient and practical but not obsolete.

1. Human intuition and creativity cannot be replicated

AI has come a long way in recent years, actually recent months… but there’s one aspect that it simply cannot replicate: human intuition and creativity. Project managers can think outside the box, develop innovative solutions, and adapt to unexpected challenges. While AI can help automate tasks and analyze data, it cannot generate creative ideas or make judgment calls based on experience and intuition.

It is also critical to note that project managers must often navigate intricate interpersonal relationships among stakeholders. This requires empathy, understanding, and the ability to manage emotions – qualities distinctly human and impossible for AI to emulate. Due to this, anyone who says that AI will take on more than half of a PM’s role needs to re-evaluate their competence.

• AI has no emotional or social awareness to engage stakeholders.

• AI is unable to drive collaboration

• AI is incapable of using Communication skills that connect hearts and minds

These three abilities are what separate a task manager from a project manager.

2. AI is designed to augment human decision-making

One of the main goals of AI is to enhance human capabilities, not replace them. In project management, AI can automate repetitive tasks, analyze large amounts of data, and provide insights that would otherwise be impossible for humans to discern. This enables project managers to focus on more strategic and high-level aspects of their job, such as building relationships, crafting innovative solutions, and driving overall project success.

For instance, AI-powered tools can help project managers identify trends and patterns in project performance data which can be used to optimize processes and improve efficiency. Additionally, AI can assist in resource allocation and scheduling by analyzing historical data and predicting future needs. These capabilities allow project managers to make more informed decisions and allocate their time and energy to areas where they can have the most significant impact.

3. Collaboration between humans and AI leads to better outcomes

The future of project management lies in the symbiotic relationship between humans and AI. By combining the strengths of both entities, project managers can achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency and effectiveness.

Picture this scenario: A project manager is faced with a tight deadline and limited resources. They use AI-powered tools to analyze past project data, identify potential bottlenecks, and optimize the allocation of resources. Meanwhile, the project manager focuses on fostering a positive team culture, addressing any interpersonal issues, and ensuring that everyone is aligned with the project objectives. In this scenario, the collaboration between human intuition and AI-driven analysis allows the project to be completed more efficiently and effectively than either could achieve alone.

4. Adaptability and continuous learning are key in project management

The world of project management is constantly evolving, and project managers must adapt to new methodologies, technologies, and industry trends. This adaptability and continuous learning are what set successful project managers apart from the rest. While AI can certainly help project managers stay informed and make data-driven decisions, it cannot replace the human ability to learn, adapt, and grow.

Furthermore, project managers need to understand the implications of AI and other emerging technologies on their projects and the industry as a whole. By staying on top of these developments and integrating them into their workflows, project managers can ensure that they remain relevant and valuable in an increasingly tech-driven world.

I can recall the time when MS Project and later Project Server first made their debuts (I never dabbled with the early DOS versions). There was a lot of hype surrounding it, claiming that it would be a miraculous tool that would make a project manager’s life significantly easier, thanks to the collaborative suite of tools it offered. In some ways, it did live up to those expectations, but at the same time, it introduced new levels of complexity as more was expected due to this advanced suite of tools (and that’s when it functioned smoothly). I see AI as the 2020’s equivalent of that experience.

Just like MS Project Server back then, AI is now being hailed as a groundbreaking technology that promises to revolutionize project management and make our lives as project managers much more comfortable. And while there’s no doubt that AI offers a plethora of benefits, such as automation of repetitive tasks, data analysis, and improved decision-making, it also brings its own set of complexities and challenges.

As we integrate AI into our project management workflows, we need to be prepared to adapt and learn how to harness its full potential effectively. This may involve staying up-to-date with the latest advancements in AI, understanding how to interpret AI-generated insights, and knowing when to rely on human intuition versus AI-driven recommendations.

Just like the introduction of MS Project Server, the rise of AI in project management will undoubtedly change the way we work and increase the expectations placed on us as project managers. However, instead of being intimidated by these new challenges, we should embrace them as opportunities for growth and improvement.

By learning how to use AI to our advantage, we can become more efficient and effective project managers, capable of tackling complex projects and delivering results. So, we should approach AI as we did with MS Project Server (and others like it) back in the day.

5. AI will create new opportunities for project managersOPPORTUNITY

As AI continues to advance, it will undoubtedly change the landscape of project management. However, rather than eliminating the need for project managers, these changes will create new opportunities for people who are willing to embrace AI and leverage its capabilities.

For example, as AI automates more routine tasks, project managers may find themselves taking on more strategic roles within their organizations. [Note: we are headed there anyway but that is for another post]

Jumping off my soapbox

AI has the potential to revolutionize the world of project management, but it’s important to remember that it’s here to assist, not replace us. By understanding the role of AI as a powerful tool that complements our human abilities, we can harness its potential to make us more efficient and effective project managers. But to be clear, we are here to stay.

Dr. Joel Carboni

Dr. Joel Carboni is a highly respected expert in sustainable project management. He is a graduate of Ball State University and holds a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development and Environment. He has over 25 years of experience in project management, including government, finance, consulting, manufacturing, and education. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and events related to project management and sustainability and has worked in more than 50 countries. In addition to serving as President Emeritus of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in the United States and being a member of the Global advisory board, Dr. Carboni is also the founder of GPM (Green Project Management) and a visiting professor at Skema Business School. He is also the GPM representative to the United Nations Global Compact, where he was a founding signatory of the Business for Peace Initiative and the Anti-Corruption call to action and a contributor to the development of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Dr. Carboni is the creator of the PRiSM™ project delivery methodology and the P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management and has written training programs on Green and Sustainable Project Management that are offered in more than 145 countries through professional training providers, business associations, and universities. He is the lead author of the book "Sustainable Project Management."

One thought to “Five Reasons Why AI is Not a Replacement for Project Managers [It is a tool].”

  1. Thank you for this. Not sure why people thought PM was so easy even AI could do it! I appreciate the dialogue and I have had success using it as a tool to assist me in my work, not replace me.

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