The excitement and enthusiasm around AI — everything from self-driving cars, to refrigerators that send push notifications when milk is running low — is also triggering worry among some project managers that the glory days of the profession are behind them, and the future is bleak; or make that non-existent.
While this concern is understandable — the disruptive potential of AI on the labor market is colossal, and could be unprecedented — it doesn’t signal the beginning of the end for project managers. On the contrary, it creates an opportunity to elevate the role by, paradoxically, allowing project managers to go “back to the future” and reclaim the profession.
Here’s why: over the last few decades, many project managers who emerge from various types of “project management school” have quickly discovered that the role is misnamed: because for every one hour they spend in management, they spend 10 in administration. And while project administration is an important piece of the puzzle (and nothing here is meant to denigrate the competent and proud project administrators out there), it’s not what project managers signed-up for. What’s more, it’s not what their enterprise hired them for, either.
Given this, it’s not surprising that some project managers rue their career choice. Truly, it’s not that they mistakenly thought they’d enjoy being a project manager, but reality had other plans. It’s that they correctly thought they’d enjoy being a project manager (and still think this deep inside), yet for the most part, they aren’t managing projects. As noted by project management expert and keynote speaker Dr. James T. Brown PMP, PE, CSP, they’re over-burdened by administrative tasks such as manually inputting project parameters, scheduling meetings, issuing minutes, compiling and distributing project documentation, and following-up (read: chasing down) late tasks and deliverables.
And several years, this administrative burden has only grown heavier and more tedious — and consequently, stress levels and burnout frequency among project managers have skyrocketed. But now, finally, there’s a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. And believe it or not, the savior is AI.
This is because rather than making project managers extinct, AI is poised to elevate project managers to do the fundamental thing that they want, need and deserve to do: manage projects! For example, AI-driven bots and tools are currently liberating project managers from several time consuming administrative tasks, including:
- Capturing key project information in real-time, such as completed milestones and percentage of progress to completion. [Learn more about this here]
- Ensuring that all team members — including notoriously late-filers — complete and submit their timesheets and expenses. [Learn more about this here]
- Automating validation rules, workflow rules, custom actions and custom fields. [Learn more about this here]
- Manage budgets and report status. [Learn more about this here]
These are just some of the clearly beneficial ways that AI is not a scary threat that is pushing project managers off the work landscape, and sending the profession into the dustbin of history. Rather, AI is enabling and empowering project managers to reclaim their time and focus, so they can do what they want to do, and what their enterprise needs them to do: manage projects.
And since we’re just at the cusp of the AI Era, for project managers and the profession, this much is assured: the best is yet to come!