In the Trenches

Here I'll discuss my ideas on and firsthand accounts of project management, with a focus on PM theory, leadership and IT project management.

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What AI can do in the Project Management Role?

The finite and the infinite of Project Management

What You Want To See Is What You Get (WYWTSIWYG)

What AI can do in the Project Management Role?

Categories: AI, project management

I recently attended a local chapter seminar on AI, the intent of the discussion, I think, was to introduce project managers to what AI is, how it can impact our jobs and what it means to the Tech industry.  Although I did not find the seminar/discussion of much value, it did provide some time for me to think about the impact or AI on my role as a Project Manager.

I started to list my daily activities and thought through how difficult it would be for AI to take over (either today OR near term):

  • Daily stand up meetings (Scrum like) – where the team reviews what was recently completed and what will be worked on today.  AI CAN today list those tasks, record responses, record what each person will work on today, ask if there are any blockers, produce post-meeting notes and follow up with the team. +1 for AI
  • Comparing progress against the plan(s) – check the progress made and being made today against the given plan(s) to determine progress, risks, budget impacts, etc. AI can easily do this today. +1 for AI
  • Reviewing proposals for upcoming projects and providing feedback in regards to HIGH LEVEL resource estimates, risks, etc.  AI can do this with some support (input of prior projects, etc.) +1/2 for AI
  • Managing project reports, documentation, governance processes, etc. – easy one for AI (and I hope sooner than later this becomes available for all PMs) +1 for AI
  • Planning exercises, either HIGH LEVEL or with input from the team – another one that I think AI can do now with input of prior projects +1/2 for AI
  • Setting up meetings, arranging travel and other administrative work PMs tend to do to ensure project progress – an easy one for AI. +1 for AI.
  • Vendor Management, from RFPs through daily progress reviews, integration of deliverables with other vendors OR internal teams, review of deliverables, etc.  This one is a bit tricky, but with some help, I do think AI can perform some/most of these tasks now or in the near future. +1/3 for AI
  • Reviewing, reprioritizing and managing project tasks and associated communication based on changing business priorities and overall efficiencies, IF Watson can beat world class chess players, I’m sure AI can continually review and rearrange tasks in a timely meaningful way EASILY +1 for AI

The above, of course, is a short list and the ability for AI to perform those PM related tasks is based on my understanding of where AI is now or in the near future.  Of course there is a cost associated with AI being developed to perform those tasks and short term cost/benefit probably leaning towards us humans to continue as we have been BUT given the history of IT and Moore’s Law… much longer will that be the case.  Can any of you think of other PM related tasks that AI can do now? Or in the near future?  What are those PM skills/tasks that ‘we think’ are further out on the AI horizon?

Posted on: May 16, 2018 10:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

The finite and the infinite of Project Management

Categories: project management

  • Finite – having limits or bounds
  • Infinite - limitless or endless in space, extent, or size; impossible to measure or calculate

If you look at a yard stick, you see a finite object, a tool most likely designed with one use in mind, such as a seamstress yardstick to measure cloth.  However, in the right hands, that yard stick could be used to measure your child, used by imaginary pirates in a sword fight and held up to the night sky to determine proportional (and highly inaccurate) distances between stars.

Isn’t this the same with the Project Management toolset that we are utilizing in our daily jobs?

Could we expand our own skillset to be used in areas that few PM’s have ventured before (sounds like Captain Kirk/Star Trek’ish)? 

Let’s look at some of the tools used in project management:

  • Scope Definition – what finite ‘thing’ are we looking to accomplish
  • Planning – how are we going to accomplish ‘that thing’
  • Executing – working through the plan
  • Monitoring – making sure we’re delivering on the plan or adjusting it as needed
  • Close Out – successfully (or not) completing the plan and reporting on the results

Besides the usual accounting system, web based social media or kitchen rehab project – what other areas could we apply our skills to a better purpose?

How about:

  • Helping our kids plan to turn their covers into a save cave for those three eyed monster dragons in their darkened bedroom?
  • Provide a means for our friends to get their bodies into the shape they want for summer? Or to move past their recent breakup?
  • Our community to implement a new playground that’s both fun and safe for our kids to play in?
  • Or ourselves in our professional goals and post work-life adventures?

Let’s be honest, project management, on the surface, is no more interesting or glamourous than a seamstress yardstick, BUT it’s the same type of finite tool that can be used in an infinite number of ways with us being the only limiting factor.  Wouldn’t the expansion of use of our tools lead to a greater appreciation and mastering of them?




Posted on: April 12, 2018 09:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

What You Want To See Is What You Get (WYWTSIWYG)

Be it from friends, co-workers, Reports, Audits, Outside consultants, Inter-Galactic Gurus, expensive Standish Reports, inexpensive internet discussions....where ever you get your information from, chances are it's going to leave you with the guidance or direction you initially envisioned.  Could it be that you're SO SMART and INTUITIVE that you knew what all the experts would have said?  Most likely not...chances are that the information you're seeking, the advice you seek and the meta-physical data gathering done is very tainted by what you wanted it to other words, YOU MADE THE RESULTS say what you wanted it to be.

In psychology, there's a double blind technique used when gathering data - the basic idea is removing the originator of the data request from the data points (the patients or test victims).  This often results in a much more realistic answer to your base question (make sure you're asking the question correctly...otherwise you'll be doing MANY of these data gathering exercises).  Is this a valid way for a IT manager to gather this kind of information? Why not? Why not send your staff out with a question like 'Is Open Source the way to go to be more productive' (as opposed to: I need to stay employable, I know Open Source is big, get me info to bring it into this job so I can learn for my next).  Are there alternatives to the double blind approach? If you're really interested in real, untainted information (sometimes you may not be for many reasons) - look for information that goes against what you want, question ALL information that confirms what you want...ask someone with an opposing view to provide the information.

Posted on: April 06, 2018 02:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Solutions are not the answer.

- Richard M. Nixon