How Forecast Uses AI to Assist Your Projects

project managers using AI to eliminate manual work

Artificial intelligence is getting into every corner of work, project management is no exception. Gartner anticipates that it will eliminate 80% of today’s manual project management tasks by 2030. Traditional PM functions such as planning, data collection, tracking, and reporting, so important to the business health, will be taken over by smart machine learning algorithms. Now, even though project management is a very developed market, we, at Forecast, still saw a gap, a need that wasn’t quite fulfilled yet. And, thanks to the evolution of the modern time technology – we’ve finally been able to actually deliver on this idea.

Applying AI to project management

The idea was, what if we used machine-learning to learn from your previous data, your previous projects, and all of your actions within the system? Then we collect all of this data, run it through an anonymizer to make it useful for all organizations in the data pool, but still keep your private data only available to you within your account. This way, we’re able to help all organizations improve and execute better projects, without any leakage of personal data from your team members or business. Forecast, being the first in a class of its own to automate project planning, has just raised $5.5 million of investments to move another needle forward in this direction. 

This very moment, Forecast has learned from more than 50,000 projects and helped make future estimates of task duration of more than a million tasks. What makes the platform stand out in the sea of software options is a set of algorithms that can learn and adjust for the future. Its main plus though is connecting all the bits and pieces into one unified solution to plan, budget, run, and track projects. All in all, you can manage a project from start to finish, having AI at hand helping you become more accurate and precise with your project forecast. Well, the simple answer is – we use everything that might be useful to improve your personal algorithm. Let’s take a proper look at the functions that have already been augmented and see what’s yet to come.

AI automates project planning & scheduling

Project management has always been around, and is thus a very developed area with various tools, both traditional and digital, that all have their own pros and cons. Every project manager or product owner probably has his or her own opinion on how to best plan and execute projects. Some prefer the waterfall approach that keeps it all simple and down-to-earth – a natural evolution from the beginning to the end. Others prefer the agile approach that is often more collaborative in style, by having frequent meetings and updates on the development, and at the same time allowing for iterations during the execution phases to follow the evolving needs.

Using AI at the planning stage, you apply it straight into the decision-making process and eliminate the guesswork and risks associated with long-term planning. Professional service companies that want to become more data-driven and productive would benefit from giving AI a chance.

Forecast's Auto Schedule eliminates the need for human input in the planning and execution phases of project management. Specifically, the AI assists project managers at the beginning of the project lifecycle, creating a solid project plan with appointed team members and estimations. In the past, you had to look for an available person with the right skill set to work on the approved tasks. Now, you can cut the time spent on project planning and scheduling in half.

Auto Schedule to make automatically generated project plans

How does the magic happen, you might wonder? Hit the Auto Schedule button after you've created a list of tasks and the AI will do the rest for you in seconds, transforming it into a realistic project schedule, assigning resources to tasks, adding estimations, and suggesting the end date for your project. It's up to you if you want to take the suggested route or adjust the plan as preferred with the most user-friendly drag and drop feature. Passing project scheduling onto AI allows you to save time on busywork, but you stay in control.

AI provides future estimates of budget and task duration

However, in project management, even the smallest details like task estimates matter when they start piling up. Routine work like ballpark estimation ultimately affects the workflow, the budget, and the project’s health. This is where AI’s regression models come in especially handy. Eventually, whom would you trust making project estimates? Your gut feeling or artificial intelligence? Based on historical data from previous projects, Forecast suggests how many hours (or story points) a task might take to finish. Planning projects this way, managers have fewer budget overruns in the end because AI does the tricky prediction job for them. 

For instance, your manually entered task estimates compared with the actual time reported on the task until it hits the done stage. We know who was involved, and if a specific person always estimates higher or lower than the actual time spent, the algorithm learns from this and adjusts for the future. Which labels are assigned to this particular task, e.g. how long does an app update with the label “javascript” or “React” normally take? The algorithm keeps learning from this every single day, and can thus provide you with better insights on all of the projects in your portfolio on a continuous basis.

What about the budget, you might think? Well, based on your data across the system, and the rate cards assigned to each role and team member – Forecast has automatically generated a real-time budget for each project.

Forecast Budget feature automatically calculated the project budget for you

AI issues risk alerts on project progress

During the execution phase of the project, you would like to know if the project is on track before it crosses the budget line. Data scientists at Forecast have figured out how to notify you if the project or budget starts to slip or if your resource allocations don't match the workload. Every time something goes wrong in terms of estimates or time registrations, the anomaly is detected and the platform starts warning project managers of the potential threat in different places. CFOs can even see it in the newly released budget page as it affects the actual finances, compared to planned. Everyone in the company can benefit from the way AI augments work.

There’s the significant long-term value you can gain from artificial intelligence today even managing a single project. However, the above setup would be more relevant for program and portfolio managers who are more likely to get confused and disoriented among a ton of tasks they should keep an eye on across multiple projects. AI gives them confidence when they build synergies between projects and makes sure no shifts have been overlooked.

AI suggests time registrations

When it comes to the way employees work, they often spend plenty of time doing record-keeping and other remedial tasks. Passing those administrative tasks to AI, employees could focus even more time on deliverables and provide more value to the project. While AI helps management predict and execute more profitable projects, it also makes it easier for the teams to register time. Teams working in Forecast can enable prepopulated timesheets with the suggested hours of work. It means that the automated time and task will appear in their time card. In this case, the AI learns from your previous week's work to help a person log time faster. This way AI translates a routine, almost hated responsibility of registering time into a fun task to do at the end of the day.

Forecast Timesheet with celendar and AI suggested tasks

Business efficiency is highly dependent on how project management has been set up from the beginning. In short, AI is an obvious asset because it provides guidance in managing complex project portfolios and makes sure you are on the right track from the beginning. It has visibility in places where project managers lack it and allows systems to track how and when the project is moving. Predictions, in turn, may help both plan the project and educate teams on how to work and register time honestly on the tasks. AI uncovers insights people can overlook when the projects shift because they can’t be seen directly. Luckily, augmented tools like Forecast have already got this challenge covered.

The beauty of Forecast is really the simplicity and flexibility. You can use whatever method you might like best and which fits your projects, while at the same time having Forecast on your team, always behind you to back you up, keep everything organized and help you execute projects on time, within scope, and on budget.

If you feel tempted to try us out, we have a free 14-days trial, and you can always upgrade or downgrade as you like. We look forward to assisting you in delivering more predictable and successful projects in the future. Also, if you want to see a demo of what Forecast has to offer, then book a personal 30 min. slot with our success team.

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