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
THE VALUE OF AI
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.
WHY THE PMO?
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
4 All these types of PMOs can be responsible for
developing and promoting the use of AI in project processes.