artificial intelligence

Project management with artificial intelligence

Project management is at a pivotal moment in history, and the PMO

has a crucial role to play in changing how we manage projects.

From two simple concepts—the ability to predict and the ability to

classify—AI technology is changing the world. For a specific discipline

such as project management, the ability to creatively apply these two

concepts will radically change the way that project work is managed

and how decisions are made. For a PMO, the challenge will be

selecting and implementing the best AI tools that are available for

project management and the ones that provide the most value to the

organization. The objective of this book is to help with that process by

identifying the capabilities of AI technology and determining how to

change the project methodology to achieve the greatest benefit. The

benefits include delivering every project on time and within budget as

well as improving the bottom line by completing those projects at a

lower cost.


How do two simple concepts create so much change and deliver so

much value? Think of a project that is represented by an image. The

image contains all the contents of the project, including the scope,

budget, schedule, risks, quality requirements, communication,

resources, and dependencies on other projects. An AI tool can assess

this image and compare it to the image of other projects that have

been successful or unsuccessful. Based on that information, the AI

tool can then classify whether a new project belongs with the

successful group or the unsuccessful group. This is valuable

information to know before the project starts and as it is executed.

Other AI tools can be used in a dynamic approach where, on an

ongoing basis throughout the project, they are used to maintain the

trajectory toward a successful project completion.

A PMO normally has more than one objective in providing

oversight to projects. Obviously, the main goal is to ensure that all

projects in the portfolio deliver the project scope, on time and on or

under budget. While the project manager has a clear focus on

delivering a successful project, the PMO can take on the responsibility

to reduce the overall cost of implementing projects. This objective

might be due to competitor pressure or simply to reduce the financial

burden on the performing organization.

Another objective might be to increase customer or client

satisfaction. This type of goal goes beyond project success and

involves the ability to impress the customer and create a bond of

customer loyalty. Expanding customer loyalty requires increased

vigilance for communication and all interactions with the customer.

The organization must display a high level of professionalism and

competence in delivering projects. The PMO may also want to expand

their project capability in order to acquire and deliver far more complex

projects than the ones in the current portfolio. The ability to achieve

small gains on these objectives is too meager a goal. Significant gains

are more desirable and can only be achieved by embracing and

utilizing AI technology.

Acquiring and implementing AI technology is not easy because it

takes time to gain the knowledge needed to understand the tools and

to find or create the data required for AI tools to perform well. A survey

of European AI start-up companies discovered that 40 percent of

those that claimed to be using AI technology did not actually have


1 PMOs need to ensure that they are acquiring tools that actually

use machine learning or some form of AI technology. Because AI tools

use historical data, the organization must provide access to all stored

project documentation. Unfortunately, 70 to 90 percent of the data

stored by organizations is unstructured data.

2 Unstructured data

includes email, images, graphs, and project documents that need to

be read and interpreted by a natural language processing (NLP)

algorithm. Structured data, on the other hand, is the term used to

categorize data that is in a standardized format and properly labeled.

This means that the AI tools designed for project management will

have greater difficulty accessing and using the stored data.


There is no single, accepted definition for a PMO, which is an

indication of the complexity of this type of structure. The Project

Management Institute (PMI) defines a PMO as a body that provides a

centralized or coordinated management of projects in an


3 Other responsibilities include setting standards for

project management and defining best practices. The PMO also

gathers and reports project status for projects in the portfolio. The

group, which typically consists of experienced project managers,

provides support to project managers and project teams in their efforts

to complete projects successfully.

The benefits of a PMO include the following:

Delivering reduced costs by executing projects efficiently

Providing a complete and coordinated analysis of the project


Understanding the complete picture of business risks

Ensuring that project decisions and interrelated decisions

are aligned with the organization’s strategy

(PMBOK), there are three types of PMOs: directive, controlling, and

supportive (see figure 1). Large project-based organizations normally

have a PMO, while many organizations do not have one at all. An

existing PMO falls into one of the three categories. A directive PMO is

sometimes known as a professional services department and they

provide the project manager for each project. This group maintains

direct control of the costs and schedule. A controlling PMO requires

adherence to policies and procedures that include, for example,

mandatory use of common templates as well as producing specific

project metrics for reporting and conforming to a governance

structure. A supportive PMO has the least influence, although it stills

exists to provide resources, such as training or best practices in

managing projects.

4 All these types of PMOs can be responsible for

developing and promoting the use of AI in project processes.


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