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How Project Management is Like A.I.

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(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

4 April 2019. The use of artificial intelligence, or A.I., is growing rapidly in business, particularly for machine learning. Yet for all of its novelty, some aspects of machine learning will seem quite familiar to project managers dealing with complex and fluid environments.

Projects are specific undertakings, usually with a set of pre-defined outcomes and deadline. Within that neat definition, however, lurk the challenges of applying knowledge, skills, and techniques to achieve the project goals. As veteran project managers can attest, leading a project team requires highly refined skills with little margin for error. And that challenge is magnified when conditions surrounding the project change often, requiring constant collaboration and updates.

The demands of project management will depend on the complexity of the project and its surrounding environment. In those situations where the project can be planned out in a linear fashion, a management strategy known as waterfall would likely work. In a waterfall strategy, tasks are planned in advance and completed in sequence. In more dynamic scenarios, however, agile project management is needed, requiring greater collaboration and coordination.

With agile project management, the execution is more iterative than straightforward. And like agile project management, machine learning uses statistical models or algorithms that allow for changing their calculations as new data are encountered. The availablity of cloud computing, large databases, and more powerful computing supports these models, which we see reflected in applications such as autonomous vehicles, drug discovery, and even social media. The rapid rise in venture capital investment in start-ups based on artificial intelligence suggests we will see many more of these applications in the near future.

In today’s complex and changing business environment, we will likely see more use of agile project management as well as machine learning. For these more complex and iterative management scenarios, project managers should not hesitate to seek out consulting help. The need for agile & waterfall project management will, of course, depend on the complexity of the project and dynamism of the project’s environment. But where needed, agile methodology consulting can help with complex projects requiring more collaboration and an iterative management process.

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