Will You Lose Your Project Management Job To An AI Robot?

Paul Dandurand

Robots, meaning artificial intelligence (AI), will soon change project management significantly. If your role is creating reports and scheduling projects, you could lose your job.

Did you know most of us are using some form of AI right now without realizing it? There’s been a lot of fear with regard to which jobs are safe and which ones aren’t. We don’t know the future, but we do know AI is making real progress.

In the news, they are saying AI and self-driving trucks will replace truck drivers. I bet you thought as a project manager, that won’t happen to you. Well, guess again!

How do you know if your job is at risk?

What AI can do today for project management

If you want to know whether or not a robot can do your job, it’s important to know what robots can do. Although artificial intelligence is evolving pretty rapidly, there are general limitations that we haven’t been able to crack just yet. And it’s normal: the human brain and intelligence is a complex system. As it stands today, AI can only do a fraction of what the human brain can do, but there are some things these robots can do so much better than humans.

1. Number crunching and data gathering

Do you spend most of your day adding, editing, and verifying data, tracking progress, and creating reports? Maybe it’s time rethink this strategy, because AI algorithms will be able to do this soon.

In the coming year, machine learning and data analysis are going to take over. We have access to massive amounts of data at the tip of our fingers, but managing these oceans of data is nearly impossible for humans. This is where software robots are likely to become increasingly valuable. They are accurate, really fast, never take breaks, don’t complain, and work continuously for free once the initial cost is covered. In fact, throw 1,000 projects at them, and they can still do them faster than you or I could do one project.

2. Scheduling and assigning work

Like number crunching and data gathering, robots will be able to use machine learning to get better and better at project scheduling and resource management. We humans need to do this for now, but watch out. That kind of work will eventually go to the robots.

3. Flagging anomalies and reporting problems

Since AI is so good at crunching data, it’s also a lot more sensitive to anomalies in that data. Demotivated teams today are unlikely to report problems, so they keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. But AI can force those mistakes to surface and therefore create an environment where continuous improvement is par for the course. Plus, the more data it has access to, the less biased it can be, unlike humans.

If you are getting your updates from team members to identify project risks and issues, those days are numbered too.

What this means for your job

Here’s some insight on the questions you’re probably asking.

1. Am I at risk of being replaced by a robot?

Absolutely, if you spend most of your time as a project administrator. If your boss sees that as mostly what you do, then you will be replaced with a robot. (Keep in mind that your future boss may be a robot making people-management decisions.)

Here’s the bottom line: If you see your project management job as being mostly data-driven and schedule-driven, you’re in big trouble. We’ve discussed in the past how a lot of project managers do only the three tasks described above in their day-to-day work. Not only can a robot do it better, but you’re also not creating very much business value. Here are signs that you might need to up the ante:

  • You spend the majority of your time gathering status data and creating/analyzing reports.
  • You’re part of discussions only about what to do, not how to do it.
  • Your team isn’t big on collaboration or helping each other.
  • Problems aren’t reported or solved.
  • There’s a lack of engagement from the team to solve and innovate.

What these five points have in common is that they don’t drive processes, efficiency, and innovation forward. Things get done, sure, but the output provides a low amount of value. In order to stay ahead of the curve and not be replaced by AI, you need to break through this cycle.

2. How can I keep my job away from the cold hands of a robot?

If you’ve heard, “there are no stupid questions,” this question proves this saying is wrong. This is a stupid question. Robots are here to stay, whether you like it or not. Trying to keep AI at bay for the sake of keeping your job is not a solution, because while other teams embrace it, you’ll be losing out to the competition and eventually become obsolete. So let’s try this again and reformulate the question:

3. How can I manage a project using AI to create more value?

Aha! Now that is a question worth answering. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will show you how to reinvent yourself to keep your job alongside the robots.

As artificial intelligence takes hold, the organizations that gain a competitive edge will be those that leverage The Human Angle.

This article originally appeared on the Pie blog and is republished by permission


Paul Dandurand

About Paul Dandurand

Paul Dandurand is the founder and CEO of PieMatrix, a visual project management application company. Paul has a background in starting and growing companies. Prior to PieMatrix, he was co-founder of FocusFrame, where he wore multiple hats, including those of co-president and director. He helped position FocusFrame as the market leader with process methodology differentiation. FocusFrame was sold to Hexaware in 2006. Previously, he was a management consulting manager at Ernst & Young (now Capgemini) in San Francisco and Siebel Systems in Amsterdam. Paul enjoys photography, skiing, and watching independent films. He earned a B.A. degree in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley.