A Quick Background on Bots and AIThe most common definition of AI is intelligent behavior exhibited by machines, and a Bot is simply software that performs a task on the user’s behalf. (Wikipedia gives a good general definition of AI and Bots) AI is already being used in many areas like speech recognition systems, search engines, personal digital assistants like Siri, self-driving cars and many more. One of most prevalent examples of an AI application is a chatbot — a computer program that mimics conversations with people via audio or text, using simple command line-like interfaces or natural language processing. With the increased use of messaging apps like Slack, chatbots are becoming the interface of choice for executing repetitive tasks.
The Role of Bots and AI in Agile Project ManagementAs a Project Manager, I spend a great deal of time manually tracking projects and creating reports and charts to share the status of a project. This undertaking can deliver accurate and useful information, but often, highly talented (and highly paid people) end up burdened with tedious administrative tasks. Instead, they should be doing things more suited to their talents — like prioritizing the roadmap, working with a customer or managing a key stakeholder’s expectations. According to Gartner, they estimate that “by 2030, as much as 80% of routine work— which represents the bulk of human hours expended across today’s PPM disciplines — could be eliminated as a result of collaboration between humans and smart machines.” With respect to Project Management (especially Agile Project Management, where automation is an essential part of the continuous delivery journey), AI has a significant role to play.
- Facilitating Daily Standups :At the end of the work day, an intelligent Bot can connect with team members and ask for the status of an assigned task. Each team member will respond with an update on what is completed, what is in progress, and any roadblocks.
- Publishing Daily Status Reports :Before the daily scrum, the Bot can create a report with a breakdown of all tasks the team members are working on, or any major roadblocks they are facing.
- Task Assignment :AI-powered Bots can automatically assign tasks to the most qualified team member for upcoming sprints, based on the team member’s expertise.
- Sprint Planning: A Bot can generate an alert if a sprint has too many or too few tasks for the team. Likewise, it can identify team members that are overloaded or have too few tasks on their plate.
- Bug Tracking and Assignment: Bots enabled with AI can track and identify updates made to source code, and link those changes to the team members who made them. This enables real, actionable tracking of team performance, and makes it easy to assign follow-up tasks to the right team member.
- Risk Alerts : With the use of advanced analytics, Bots can proactively generate alerts if there is a risk of over budgeting and estimation, and drill down to understand where things are going wrong.
- Recommending Best Practices :Bots can also show which best practices need to be followed and which ones are not creating any business value. It can also link the impact back to project metrics, to better understand the rationale for a particular practice.
Where Do We Go From Here?Ultimately, an AI system or AI Bots will improve outcomes while saving time and manual effort. However, there are some challenges, as these early AI tools for Agile Project Management rely on capturing and maintaining data correctly, which itself requires human intervention. Thus the question: Can a machine or Bot eventually imitate the intellect of project managers and replace them? In my opinion, there is currently no threat of this. Perhaps in the future they may begin to approach our level of intellect and decision making, but for now they are simply useful tools we can employ to take our team performance and productivity to the next level. What are your thoughts? Will the Bots replace us eventually, or are they just a means to an end? Comment below! For a while now I have been exploring AI, and how developments in AI can benefit project management – be it traditional or Agile.