Digitalization and Automation of the PMO
Which PMO functions are expected to be automated in the years to come?
PMOs, similar to other parts of the organization, are being asked to do more with less. That means PMOs are supposed to manage more projects with fewer resources while delivering projects successfully by meeting and exceeding all required quality standards.
With the increasing number of projects that PMOs have to manage and deliver, that’s easier said than done. The good news is that contemporary digital technologies that are delivering on their business transformation promise are providing hope to PMOs as well.
In a recent press release, Gartner is predicting that 80% of today’s PM / PPM tasks will be eliminated by 2030 as AI and related technologies take over.
Part of what they are referring to seems to be in line with general digitalization trends. Digital technologies enabling automation, human-machine interactions, delivery of business insights, and more are transforming all types of business processes, and PMO / PPM functions are no exception.
The good news is that organizations can start the journey today. The following are some scenarios and use cases that can help bring in productivity gains to the operations of any PMO or related organizations. While some of these scenarios may be a bit into the future, others are being realized today with contemporary tools and technologies. According to Gartner, some of these technologies will start showing up in tools in less than a year. Let’s not forget we are already in an era when grocery orders can be placed by refrigerators and people can monitor their houses and answer doorbells even when they are thousands of miles away.
Obviously, for some of these use cases to work at a grander scale, it may take some time, but the seeds are already being planted.
- Creation of project plans and other planning reports — During planning cycles, an initial draft of project plans and related project charts and reports can be created by AI-enabled tools. Software bots and conversational agents can further aid the process by listening and processing human voice input. These technologies, aided by computer vision and language processing, are in use in other industries and delivering similar results.
- Use of predictive analytics — As more PMO and project data gets stored centrally in cloud-based PPM systems, predictive analytics technologies can start reporting on project risks and issues, predicting their potential impact on project delivery dates, and foreseeing other potential outcomes. For example, executives may want to know the impact of rescheduling certain milestones, adding more resources, etc. Today, this analysis may need a project manager’s time and effort, while AI technologies and conversational agents will allow managers to ask questions and get quick responses to their queries than what a project analyst may be able to deliver today. Eventually, with access to more historical data, these systems can deliver even smarter insights.
- Automation of support requests — Large PMOs that have staff answering support questions can employ automated chatbots. Even with today’s technologies, chatbots can guide interested users to various types of information stored in PMO knowledge repositories, such as progress and status reports, contracts data on vendors, in use methodologies, processes, and much more.
- Insights on improving PMO Processes — As AI-related technologies are helping get insights from enterprise data, we could potentially see AI tapping into PMO repositories to run analytics and provide insights that can be used to improve the overall PMO processes and help improve the execution of future projects.
- Smarter Resource Planning Management — With more PPM and PMO tools and underlying functions and processes being moved from on-premise systems to the cloud, organizations will be able to assign work to global resources much more easily. This can eliminate a lot of manual effort that goes on today in terms of finding resources, checking their availability, assigning them to projects, keeping them utilized, and more.
- Faster Decisions — Availability of the right information on project statuses and progress and availability of this information at any time and any place, along with the use of online collaboration tools, will enable quicker decision making as opposed to the time and effort that is wasted in scheduling meetings and sitting through long presentations.
As I mentioned earlier, organizations can start today by automating a number of their tasks and processes related to data collection, monitoring, tracking, and reporting. Even slight improvements in automation can deliver huge returns, especially to organizations that have large PMOs running hundreds of projects and programs.
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