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AI and the PMO: Friends or Foes

AI and PMO: Friends or Foes - Marisa Silva - Wellingtone PPM

I recently came across a topical and very interesting article on the influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Project Management. The conclusion: AI may rather be a threat to PMOs than to project managers.

Is the glass half empty or half full?

As with anything in life, I believe that we can choose to look at challenges as threats or as opportunities thus, esteemed PMOs colleagues, despair not. Indeed, the level of advancement of technology is exponential and, although we don’t know for sure when it is going to hit us, solid and strong progress is being done in this area every day.

According to the article, AI may replace the following tasks:

  • Analysing large quantities of data
  • Scenario planning
  • Repetitive tasks
  • Lessons learned and reporting
  • Communication purposes
  • Failure detection
  • Risk identification
  • Business analysis

From a PMO’s perspective, this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, AI can help free up the time of the PMO staff and raise the profile of the PMO, no longer buried in data and spending days preparing monthly packs for senior management but instead now focusing in other critical functions such as enabling capability of the project teams, educating sponsors and other stakeholders in the organisation and working with the business in shaping the portfolio of projects. You finally get the chance you were waiting for! At the end of the day, it’s about seeing the glass half full or half empty. I invite you to look think of AI as an opportunity.

AI does not make decisions, people do

Sure, AI will give you recommendations, figures, insights but, while AI will enable informed decision making, this is not to say that better decisions will in fact be made. Ultimately, people make decisions, and this is unlikely to change since we all like to have the illusion of control. The PMO is therefore in a privileged position to influence a culture that promotes project excellence and to facilitate the critical success factors for project delivery that go beyond the mere provision of reliable data, such as responsible sponsorship, competent teams, strong leadership, clear vision and objectives, or the existence of appropriate methods and tools in the organisation available for the project teams. Make no mistake: AI is (just) a means, not an end.

PMOs must grow or go

Eventually, AI will mean a push for the real value of the PMOs, leading to the principle of natural selection, where the adaptable PMOs survive and become stronger in demonstrating their value to the business and where inflexible PMOs not delivering real value are gone. As an emerging profession, this is therefore an opportunity to reposition ourselves in organisations and to frame our roles towards a principle of relevance – in a scenario of limited resources, we cannot afford not to be relevant: we either grow or we must go.

AI is a trendy topic and part of the community seems to be alarmed by the potentially dangerous implications for PMOs. But is there really such a need for concern? To be honest, I will always prefer artificial intelligence to natural stupidity! 😊

By Marisa Silva (The Lucky PM) – Senior PPM & PMO Consultant, Wellingtone PPM

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