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Did Artificial Intelligence just change everything about Project Management? 

A new Artificial Intelligence, called GPT-4, was released on March 14th, 2023. Its impressive abilities have made it a hot topic in the news. For example, GPT-4 scored in the 90th percentile on the bar exam, a major test for lawyers in the USA. This is a huge improvement from its predecessor, GPT-3.5 (https://openai.com/research/gpt-4). 

Twitter user Prashanth Rangaswamy asked GPT-4 which jobs it thought it could replace (https://mobile.twitter.com/itisprashanth/status/1636282688180215809 and https://www.firstpost.com/world/chatgpts-gpt-4-version-says-it-will-replace-these-20-jobs-12307872.html). 

GPT-4 identified 20 jobs that (in its opinion!) it could replace, and what human trait it was replicating.  

As a former accountant, I was surprised to find bookkeeping on the list of jobs AI might replace. I can’t help but wonder when “Accountant” might join that list, given the progress from GPT-3.5 to GPT-4. 

Now, I work as a Project Manager having changed my career more than 20 years ago. Project managers track, follow up, and drive tasks, while also creating documents like business cases, project charters, and project plans. We also identify and manage risks. 

The project manager role is like a Technical Support Analyst, Transcriptionist, Appointment Scheduler, and Virtual Assistant, which GPT-4 believes it could replace. Could “Project Manager” be next?  

Though I’ve simplified the project management role, I think GPT-4 could become a Project Analyst—an assistant to a project manager—if given proper instructions. This AI assistant could schedule meetings, prepare standard documentation, and set reminders for the team. 

Since I have access to GPT-4, let’s test its ability to assist a project manager like me. 

GPT-4 put to the test 

There are two primary documents that are used to kick off a project. The first being a Business Case, usually used to give a high-level overview of the project, why it is needed, its expected benefits and an estimate of the project’s cost. Several years ago, I was the project manager for a project to migrate Windows servers from version 2008 to a newer version. Let’s see how well GPT-4 does at producing a Business Case for this project. Notice that I use the words “Prompt” and “Response” as opposed to question and answer when describing the interaction with the AI, I feel this is more accurate and is what is being used in the wild now. 

Prompt 

you are an executive sponsor of a project to replace 2000 Windows 2008 servers. Write a project proposal to justify why this project should be conducted and estimate what the cost will be. 

Response 

[Your Name]  

[Your Title]  

[Your Department]  

[Your Company] 

[Date] 

Subject: Project Proposal – Windows Server 2008 Replacement 

Executive Summary: We are proposing a company-wide project to replace 2000 Windows Server 2008 systems currently in use across various departments. As an executive sponsor, I am confident that this project will significantly improve the security, performance, and maintainability of our IT infrastructure, while offering long-term cost savings. 

Problem Statement: Windows Server 2008 reached its end-of-support (EOS) in January 2020, meaning that Microsoft no longer provides regular security updates or technical support for this version. Continuing to use outdated systems poses significant risks to our organization, including: 

  1. Security vulnerabilities: Lack of security updates exposes our infrastructure to potential cyber-attacks, data breaches, and unauthorized access. 
  1. Software incompatibility: As new software is developed, compatibility with Windows Server 2008 decreases, limiting our ability to utilize cutting-edge technology. 
  1. Compliance issues: Outdated servers may violate industry-specific regulations, leading to potential fines and reputational damage. 
  1. Higher maintenance costs: Older systems typically require more maintenance and are prone to failures, resulting in increased operational costs. 

Objectives: 

  1. Upgrade 2000 Windows Server 2008 systems to the latest Windows Server version. 
  1. Strengthen our security posture by ensuring all systems receive timely security updates and support. 
  1. Improve operational efficiency by utilizing modern features and capabilities of the latest Windows Server version. 
  1. Ensure compliance with industry regulations and standards. 
  1. Reduce maintenance costs and avoid potential financial and reputational risks. 

Project Scope: 

  1. Assess current infrastructure, identify dependencies, and develop a comprehensive upgrade plan. 
  1. Select the appropriate Windows Server version based on our organization’s needs and requirements. 
  1. Develop a detailed project timeline, including milestones, resource allocation, and deadlines. 
  1. Acquire necessary hardware, software licenses, and support contracts for the new Windows Server version. 
  1. Perform the upgrade process, including testing, migration, and decommissioning of old servers. 
  1. Provide comprehensive training and documentation to IT staff and other stakeholders. 
  1. Conduct post-upgrade audits, performance evaluations, and security assessments to ensure a successful transition. 

Cost Estimation: The estimated cost of replacing 2000 Windows Server 2008 systems can be broken down into the following categories: 

  1. Hardware upgrades: $1,500,000 (Assuming an average cost of $750 per server) 
  1. Software licenses: $1,000,000 (Assuming an average cost of $500 per Windows Server license) 
  1. Support contracts: $300,000 (Assuming an average cost of $150 per server) 
  1. IT staff and resources: $500,000 (Including internal and external resources, training, and overtime) 
  1. Contingency fund: $200,000 (To account for unforeseen expenses) 

Total estimated cost: $3,500,000 

Return on Investment (ROI): The ROI for this project can be realized through the following benefits: 

  1. Reduced maintenance costs: An estimated $500,000 per year in savings due to lower maintenance and support expenses. 
  1. Improved security and compliance: Avoiding potential fines and reputational damage, which can be valued at several million dollars depending on the industry and severity of breaches. 
  1. Increased productivity: Leveraging the latest server technologies and features will enhance operational efficiency and enable our organization to remain competitive in the market. 

Given these benefits, we can expect a positive ROI within approximately 5-7 years of project completion. This estimate takes into account the cost savings, increased productivity, and potential risks averted due to upgraded infrastructure. Furthermore, the long-term value of maintaining a secure, efficient, and compliant IT infrastructure will contribute to the overall success and growth of our organization. 

Conclusion: The proposed Windows Server 2008 replacement project is a critical investment in our organization’s future. By upgrading our outdated infrastructure, we will not only mitigate security risks and ensure compliance with industry regulations but also improve operational efficiency, reduce maintenance costs, and remain competitive in our industry. 

As an executive sponsor, I am confident that this project will deliver significant value and benefits to our organization. I request the support and approval of the relevant stakeholders and the allocation of necessary resources to ensure the successful implementation of this project. 

Please feel free to contact me for further information or clarification on the proposal. I am looking forward to your valuable feedback and support in driving this initiative. 

Sincerely, 

[Your Name]  

[Your Title]  

[Your Department]  

[Your Company] 

This is shocking... not only did GPT-4 set up an acceptable format for a Business Case, it also was able to populate that format with relevant and detailed information that is specifically targeted to the migration of Windows.  

The only thing I can see that would be a potential issue is the cost section which is probably light in its estimation of the cost. This is most likely because this model was trained on data that ends in 2021. The costing may have been more relevant several years ago, but that section can easily be validated by a human reviewer. 

I then prompted GPT-4 to produce a Project Charter based on the business case, and it did so, with the same outstanding results. I have added that project charter to the end of this article for those that are interested. 

Both documents are perfectly serviceable in my opinion and could be used with minimal change as the kickoff document for the project I described. This is both worrying and exciting. 

Is my job doomed?  

I do not think so, there is more to being a competent project manager than what I have described above. The skills that GPT-4 claims to be able to handle are necessary, but not sufficient.  

There is a subtlety to modern project management that relates to collaboration and cooperation across complex problems that are worked on by multifaceted and complex team structures. There is still a good portion of human interaction to get tasks done.  

Simply describing a task and setting a due date would not get a task done in the busy (and noisy) workday of the people assigned to do these tasks. Invariably, there is a negotiation and prioritization process that needs to occur as part of the task assignment and timing, this level of empathy is my human advantage, at least for now! 

However, not getting a basic understanding of how GPT-4 and other AI’s like it works would be terribly short sighted. Clearly this technology has progressed to a level where it has some utility to the Project Management profession. And this will only accelerate as new products are developed that leverage the capabilities of GPT-4, and new and improved AI models are released. 

Now what? 

So, did the world just change forever… my answer is a resounding YES! I agree with many commentators that there was probably a turning point in human-AI interactions and the general usefulness of AI such as GPT-4… and hold on to your hats for GPT-5 expected to be out later this year. If the jump between GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 is anything to go by, we are in for a wild ride. 

For good or bad, this is the beginning, but it is definitely not the end. 

Appendix – Project Charter 

Prompt 

generate a project charter based on the business case you just displayed 

Response 

Project Charter 

Project Title: Windows Server 2008 Replacement  

Project Date: [Date]  

Prepared by: [Your Name] 

Project Overview: The Windows Server 2008 Replacement Project aims to replace 2000 Windows Server 2008 systems with the latest Windows Server version. This initiative will enhance our organization’s security posture, improve operational efficiency, ensure compliance with industry regulations, and reduce long-term maintenance costs. 

Project Objectives: 

  1. Upgrade 2000 Windows Server 2008 systems to the latest Windows Server version. 
  1. Strengthen our security posture by ensuring all systems receive timely security updates and support. 
  1. Improve operational efficiency by utilizing modern features and capabilities of the latest Windows Server version. 
  1. Ensure compliance with industry regulations and standards. 
  1. Reduce maintenance costs and avoid potential financial and reputational risks. 

Project Scope: 

  1. Assess current infrastructure, identify dependencies, and develop a comprehensive upgrade plan. 
  1. Select the appropriate Windows Server version based on our organization’s needs and requirements. 
  1. Develop a detailed project timeline, including milestones, resource allocation, and deadlines. 
  1. Acquire necessary hardware, software licenses, and support contracts for the new Windows Server version. 
  1. Perform the upgrade process, including testing, migration, and decommissioning of old servers. 
  1. Provide comprehensive training and documentation to IT staff and other stakeholders. 
  1. Conduct post-upgrade audits, performance evaluations, and security assessments to ensure a successful transition. 

Project Deliverables: 

  1. Comprehensive upgrade plan. 
  1. New server hardware and software licenses. 
  1. Migration of data and applications to upgraded servers. 
  1. Decommissioned Windows Server 2008 systems. 
  1. Training materials and documentation for IT staff and stakeholders. 
  1. Post-upgrade audit, performance evaluation, and security assessment reports. 

Project Milestones: 

  1. Infrastructure assessment and upgrade plan completion: [Month, Year] 
  1. Selection of the appropriate Windows Server version: [Month, Year] 
  1. Acquisition of hardware, software licenses, and support contracts: [Month, Year] 
  1. Server upgrade process completion: [Month, Year] 
  1. Training and documentation delivery: [Month, Year] 
  1. Post-upgrade audits and evaluations: [Month, Year] 

Project Constraints: 

  1. Budget: The project has an estimated budget of $3,500,000. 
  1. Timeline: The project is expected to be completed within [X months]. 
  1. Resources: Limited availability of internal IT resources may require the use of external consultants or contractors. 
  1. Compatibility: Ensuring compatibility with existing applications and systems during the upgrade process. 

Project Risks: 

  1. Unforeseen technical issues during the upgrade process. 
  1. Data loss or corruption during migration. 
  1. Resistance to change from staff members or stakeholders. 
  1. Delays in acquiring necessary hardware or software. 

Project Stakeholders: 

  1. Executive Sponsor: [Your Name, Your Title] 
  1. Project Manager: [Project Manager’s Name, Title] 
  1. IT Department: [IT Department Head, Title] 
  1. Affected Departments: [Department Heads or Managers, Titles] 

Project Approvals: 

By signing below, the project stakeholders acknowledge their agreement with the contents of this Project Charter and commit to providing the necessary resources for the successful completion of the Windows Server 2008 Replacement Project. 

Executive Sponsor: ____________________________ Date: __________ [Your Name, Your Title] 

Project Manager: ____________________________ Date: __________ [Project Manager’s Name, Title] 

IT Department: ____________________________ Date: __________ [IT Department Head, Title] 

Affected Departments: 

[Department Head/Manager 1] ____________________________ Date: __________ [Department Head/Manager 1, Title] 

[Department Head/Manager 2] ____________________________ Date: __________ [Department Head/Manager 2, Title] 

[Additional Department Head/Manager signatures as needed] 

By signing this Project Charter, the stakeholders demonstrate their commitment to the successful completion of the Windows Server 2008 Replacement Project. This charter will serve as a guiding document throughout the project lifecycle and will be periodically reviewed and updated as needed to ensure its continued relevance and alignment with organizational goals. 

This post was written by an AI and reviewed/edited by a human.

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