September 28 & 29, 2020 | Virtual
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You might be able to do so for some industries but not other. Like for example, this won’t work for construction projects. However, in all cases, it is not advisable to do so because a major part of a project manager’s job is communication with different parties and communication is best done face to face.
Some aspects of PM can be automated but I have a hard time envisioning fully automated project management except for simple cases. Automation is better suited for situations which are highly repeatable. Certainly machine learning can be used to compare current situations to prior situations to make decisions but people are better at situations that involve adaptation to change and decision making involving abstract variables. Examples include decision making that weighs long term strategy vs. short term metrics, and motivating people.
Hard techniques and practices might get automated, but we are unlikely to take the PM out of the equation until we take humans out of the projects entirely!
Thanks to everybody for your replies!
I agree with Keith, if there are repeatable parts, then these components might be automated. E.g. you are rolling the same solution out to multiple sites or pattern builds. Still, it might not stop people from trying, noting that Elon Musk tried to heavily automate Model 3 production at Tesla, but then he had to roll a lot of it back, as it created too many problems.
Project manager is so much more than a scheduler, coordinator, tracker of project progress. These elements may be automated and replaced by tools that already exist or are at least helping. Agile methodologies put a lot of focus on self-organizing terms where their leader is practicing servant leadership and provides support for the team but does not directly manage their their work.
But yet that’s still not full scope of what a project manager is doing. Soft skills, communications, emotional intelligence, leadership skills, all of these are necessary for a successful project and I can’t imagine automating them.
But who knows? AI also did not exist that long time ago:)
Actually a lot of those transactions you mentioned are still there, only "hidden" by technology advancements. I can easily see driverless cars or cabs one day because you don't need human intelligence to get from A to B. Running a project is a different matter since it involves so many people, that it requires people skills. It's only when the project doesn't require people (AI and robots of the future) where a human project manager won't be needed anymore.
To follow on Kiron's statement it's illogical, emotional humans who make PMs necessary. If they could be removed from the equation then PMs wouldn't be necessary, as all decisions would be logical and thus capable of automation.
Agree with Kiron and Eric, PMs are needed to deal with humans - on the project team, as sponsors and customers, as partner.
What if there is no need for humans on projects anymore?
If business decisions are made by AI (already done by insurance companies) and if processes are automated and supported by AI (like in supply chains)?
I think we live in times when the job of a project manager is evolving. So I do not see a project without a manager. A project is done by the team, but without adequate coordination the results are not satisfactory.
Also, as Keith says some aspects of PM can be automated but I have a hard time envisioning fully automated project management except for simple cases.
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