Paul Boudreau

Paul Boudreau

Professor, Project Manager and IT Consultant


  • Years as a PM35

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A project management perspective is very appropriate.  Obviously, key considerations are scope and risk.  The scope is global and a lot of countries did not understand that at the start of the outbreak.  A risk plan is what the disease control centers are using to control proliferation.  There is also an ongoing assessment of the fatality percentage, another part of analyzing risk.  Similar to the need in project management, the process to assess and control the outbreak needs to use AI tools in order to increase success.  Data mining can be used to find correlations that can quickly identify and shut down locations that are most susceptible to spreading the virus.  Machine learning tools can be used to create a model of critical factors that helped to spread or to prevent contamination.   All of this will undoubtedly be included in a lessons learned document. 

AI is going to disrupt project management, especially the project methodology. This includes the way the PMO manages a portfolio, the way a project manager executes a project and the way the project team interacts with the stakeholders. There are two main parts to this disruption. The first is vastly improved efficiency in the way that project management activities are performed. The second change is with the roles and responsibilities for the PMO and the project manager.

Perhaps you think that Airbnb simply improves the efficiency of finding a place to stay or that companies like Uber or Lyft improve the efficiency of transportation. I disagree. I think they disrupt those industries and AI will have the same impact on project management. The main impact is the importance of data and changing not only how we perceive data on projects but how we collect and store data in an easily accessible and structured format that AI tools can use.

Another change is how AI tools will become the 'always available, expert judgement tool and technique' for projects, thereby reducing the importance of project managers, especially ones who make intuitive decisions. As decision making shifts away from people and to machine learning models, project success rates will rise and be more consistently reliable. By disrupting our project processes, AI delivers much better results.

If we take a high-level perspective on the biggest challenge for project managers then there is only one answer: deliver the project scope on time and on or under budget. There are a variety of statistics on project failure rates such as 68% of IT projects fail (PMI) or 70% of organizations reported at least one project failure in the previous 12 months (KPMG). Is anyone concerned? Whatever the source of information, the success rate of projects is far less than 50%. Not only is this astounding but it is also incredibly wasteful and should not be tolerated. As professional project managers, we continue to be inundated by the litany of detailed reasons why projects fail. There are a variety of entities that offer project manager training to “fix us”. Guess what? It’s not working! Project methodologies need to be radically changed and the answer is to use new technology. Artificial intelligence, specifically machine learning tools, are the only way to increase project success rates to a significantly higher level than they are today. Find a way to disrupt your current project management processes with AI so that we can all be proud of project success rates.