Project Management in the Age of Artificial Intelligence



By Chaitali D. Chheda

North Texas, USA




Have you ever wondered how the Project Management role will evolve after Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is operational? Are you wondering whether Project Management roles will become obsolete with Artificial Intelligence?

This paper aims at presenting the ways in which the evolution of AI is likely to change the Project Management role. Project Management is globally accepted, used in various industries and translates distinctly in every industry. In the past few decades, it has become a highly desirable and sought-after role, as businesses demand that project work be completed on time, within budget and prescribed quality constraints. We constantly implement processes and changes that enable us to meet these demands. In doing so, we hear a lot about Artificial Intelligence becoming the ultimate game-changer across all industries and as Project or Program managers we wonder how it will change or eliminate our roles. In this paper, the author presents the evolution of AI, its components and how it is likely to change certain aspects of Project Management. It is based on the author’s research on this subject.

VUCA – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity

Our existence is characterized by VUCA now more than ever. Internet gained popularity at the start of the century and then came smart phones; smart gadgets and we are now headed into a more advanced era of intelligent machines or Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). ‘Artificial Intelligence’ signifies that which is manufactured but has the capability to learn just like humans and compute at a much higher capacity than an average human. As A.I. progresses, more people are contemplating that large sectors of workforce are likely to be taken over by machines, thus bringing mass scales of global unemployment due to the volatility and the uncertainty associated with it. How accurate is this conclusion? It is definitely not a simple answer as it cannot be common across all the industries across the globe, thereby making it complex and ambiguous.

This paper will address the factors of VUCA associated with Artificial Intelligence as applied to Project Management and is based on the author’s research on the subject.

Background: Rise of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is one of the emerging technologies that we increasingly hear about, along with others like Renewable Energy, Cloud Computing and Cryptocurrency. We begin to ask ourselves – Why is this so important? Why are the progressive countries gearing towards it? Why are governments reserving budgets for A.I. capability? The seed for A.I. enablement was planted in March 2016 when Lee Se-Dol, a South Korean master, was defeated by the board game AlphaGo. Google’s AlphaGo is a complex computer program that generates a board game that requires intuition, strategic and creative thinking. It is trained to mimic human play by matching the moves of expert players to generate a more complex algorithm. The main objective of the gaming community that is comprised of scientists and researchers is for the computer to defeat an expert human player and then enhance the algorithms further as part of research for Artificial Intelligence systems. Prior to AlphaGo, some researchers had claimed that computers could never defeat humans, thus maintaining that a human brain is far more superior to a computer. The defeat of Lee Se-Dol had a profound impact on the political community in China whose main concern has been its decline in population owing to its one-child policy that was followed for decades until 2015. In May 2016, Google brought AlphaGo to China where it defeated Ke Jie of China. This paved the way for a fresh flow of investments from the Chinese government into strengthening A.I. According to a recent study, the U.S. tech giant IBM had the highest A.I. patent portfolio of 8,920 patents, followed by Microsoft at 5,930, whereas China accounted for 17 of the top 20 academic institutions involved in patenting A.I. With the world’s largest economies competing for the top spot, the White House issued an executive order on February 11, 2019, announcing that it will encourage research in the field of A.I in the United States.

The key factor that differentiates the systems employing the latest capabilities of Artificial Intelligence is their ability to learn and apply these learnings progressively without any modifications to their algorithms. AlphaGo is more successful than its previous versions because of its ability to learn from other games and apply its learnings to the future games. The latest version of the game, called AlphaGo Zero is the most advanced. It is loaded with the rules of the game without any other data from the past games. It learns from the random games that are chosen until it is able to apply these learnings progressively.


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 13th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium in May 2019.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Chheda, C.D. (2019). Project Management in the Age of Artificial Intelligence; presented at the 13th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium, Richardson, Texas, USA in May 2019; PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue VIII, September.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/pmwj85-Sep2019-Chheda-project-management-in-age-of-artificial-intelligence.pdf



About the Author

Chaitali Chheda

North Texas, USA




Chaitali D. Chheda is employed by ECOM consulting INC. and works at Citigroup as a Program Manager. She has over 18 years of experience in the Information Technology Industry and has worked globally with financial services’ companies like American Express and Capital One, in Information Technology as well as in other areas. She can be contacted at chaitalichheda@gmail.com