Project Management

Saving 14 minutes a day with AI

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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from RebelsGuideToPM.com.

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Research amongst Microsoft Copilot users highlights that on average they are saving 14 minutes a day (1.2 hours per week) by using Copilot, which is an AI-add in. Some users reported saving over 30 minutes a day, and using the time gained for focus work or additional meetings (*gulp*).

If you’re wondering how GenAI is going to change the way you work, Copilot is an example of something quite easy to use that speeds up completing your daily tasks. For example, you can draft a new presentation from a prompt or summarise an email thread or chat thread. I can see how this would help you catch up on meetings too as you can ask it questions based on a meeting transcript, or get a recap of the whole meeting.

I think that nothing really beats the aha moments in a meeting where you are working with others and finding a way forward, but there are also plenty of meetings that should have been an email. And I don’t know about you, but my diary is often double-booked with invites, and it’s hard to find time to squeeze more calls in, especially with senior leaders. Summarising a missed meeting can save people 32 minutes, which you could fill with another meeting, or take a lunch break, or write that project proposal that’s been sitting on your desk for a week.

Fourteen minutes per day does not sound like much, but it’s worth having, if the overall burden of admin work is reduced, freeing up time for us to do more project leadership and less creating slides, typing minutes or searching for files (the study said users were 29% faster in a series of tasks including searching, writing and summarising information).

The most important thing that I took away from the survey is that it doesn’t take less effort – it also feels like it takes less effort. The mental load of work is substantial. There are tasks to juggle, unending To Do items, stakeholders to keep engaged and lots more that we hold in our heads every day. Sometimes I end the day with decision fatigue. Sometimes it’s hard to switch off and the mental energy expended throughout the day has been exhausting.

If I can feel like I’m doing less burdensome work and more value-add work, that has to benefit my mental health and my enjoyment of the job.

Personally, I think this kind of GenAI has more practical use for project leaders than the ChatGPT-style interfaces that are available, including PMI’s own Infinity. I checked that out too, and it’s good for learning. I asked it to work out some potential risks for an example project for me, and it did a pretty good job of coming up with some basic risks I could include in a risk log as a starting point for discussion. A huge benefit of Infinity over my ‘normal’ ChatGPT account is that it provides the sources, so you can be confident you’re getting reliable, trusted information, which is very important if you’re building out work products based on the guidance.

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I can see a workplace in the not-too-distant future where we’ve got a pop up GenAI tool on the desktop to support everyday tasks, and a ChatGPT-style interface for research and more in-depth (or even quick) questions. What do you think about the way GenAI is influencing how work tools are built and the features on offer to you? Let me know in the comments!

Posted on: March 12, 2024 08:00 AM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Kwiyuh Michael Wepngong Financial Management Specialist | US Peace Corps / Cameroon Yaounde, Centre, Cameroon
Thanks for this

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Abolfazl Yousefi Darestani Manager, Quality and Continuous Improvement| Hörmann-TNR Industrial Doors Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
Every minute counts.

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Aaron Porter IT Project Manager| Blade HQ Pleasant Grove, Ut, USA
I'm not using any specialized AI tools. We have ClickUp, but I don't see the need to pay for everyone to have access to it's AI when I'm the only one who might use it. As it is, my meeting notes are very specific - not transcripts that require a lot of time to sort through for key points, decisions, and action items.

It was yesterday that I found out we had access to Copilot, so I'll be comparing that to what I can do with GPT-3.5. I'm expecting subtle differences. We'll see...

Making the switch from GPT-3.5 to GPT-4 was eye opening, and I'm not sure I'd need a specialized GenAI tool given what I need and what it can do. Being able to create slides, charts, text files, and images based on a conversation has been pretty helpful. One minor pain point, that was frustrating until I figured, it out is that every now and then GPT-4 forgets that it can create files so I have to tell it to use Python to create the file I'm asking for.

I'm currently engineering a set of prompts to help my stakeholders develop requirements. It may not save anyone minutes per day, but my initial tests give me hope that it has the potential to save hours of work and weeks of duration per project, given how things work where I'm at.

For me, the only motivator for a custom GenAI tool would be having one that was internal to the company - nobody outside the company could access the data. At that point, I would be comfortable, for example, uploading contracts, asking the AI to read and summarize it, look for redundancies and conflicts, and then asking specific questions about the contract. That would be a real timesaver for some contracts.

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Evan Mitchell Program Coordinator | Romaire Studios, Inc. Ca, USA
Great article and insight, Elizabeth. I’m curious to know what it is exactly those people are using LLMs/GenTransformers for that saves them so much time in a day?

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Elizabeth Harrin Director| RebelsGuideToPM.com London, England, United Kingdom
Same! The latest survey from PMI Infinity talks about whether we use the tools for automated report writing, summarising meeting minutes etc, so people obviously are finding reasons to use them.

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Surupa Chakravarty Senior Business Consultant| PwC Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Right in saying that, people are finding reasons to use them. But do these application give the exact content by considering the word limit and other limitations?

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