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AI in project management yields a positive return on investment in Australia

Published on 07/03/2024 by Andrew Blair

Is your company considering introducing artificial intelligence (AI) tech into their project management processes? GetApp discovers how AI investments in project management (PM) produce promising outcomes by facilitating automation and driving efficiency. Are increasing investments in AI software signalling a transformative shift in project management?

Employees preparing to use AI in project management

Artificial Intelligence (AI) software stands at the forefront of modern technological advancements and has come to the attention of many industries to drive efficiency and innovation. Although artificial intelligence is not a new concept, its recent resurgence may herald strategic advantages for companies seeking a more competitive edge. Notably, integrating AI tech in project management processes could be the beginning of a tactical shift to transform the industry. 

In the same vein, companies seeking to leverage machine learning —a sub-set of AI— algorithms for data analysis can sift through vast datasets in real-time. This allows businesses to extract valuable insights to aid decision-making and optimise workflows. While AI-powered technologies may reduce time-to-market and project delivery cycles, some companies may still hold back from investing in AI and integrating the technology into their project management processes. But what is holding back Australian companies from investing in AI and how can policies, guidelines, and training make companies reconsider implementing the technology?

In this article, GetApp derives insight from companies already using AI software in their project management processes and discovers how they benefit from the technology. Additionally, how much are companies that use AI planning to keep spending on the technology, and are they receiving a return on investment since integrating it?

Participants for this study consisted of 545 professionals who are either moderately or very involved in project management processes. The full methodology for this study is at the end of this article. 

Nearly three in 10 (29%) companies currently use AI software in project management processes. Moreover, a significant number of respondents said their company is either in the process of incorporating AI (23%) or is interested (21%) in its application; we will refer to this group as respondents interested in implementing AI in project management. 

AI tech can have a wide range of uses and applications. However, it is commonly associated with its ability to automate processes. This is borne out by our survey results, as nearly half (49%) of the respondents currently using AI software in project management said task automation is the most applicable area for its use. Similarly, respondents who are either in the process of implementing AI or are only interested also cited task automation (49%) as the most relevant area for its use as indicated in the infographic below.

Infographic showing the top five most cited applicable areas of AI in project management by respondents

In part one of this two-part series, we discovered that 64% of project management professionals use two to three software programs for project management processes. Quite significantly, the most used specific software for project management cited by 58% of respondents is task management software. Task management is essential in project management as it facilitates effective planning, organisation, and tracking of project activities. Furthermore, task management software aids in breaking down larger project objectives into manageable tasks and helps teams maintain focus, allocate resources, and mitigate risks throughout the project lifecycle. Therefore, since using AI in project management is already being commonly applied for task automation, this may reduce the need for additional task management software or have someone manually manage tasks.

The capabilities of AI can empower companies to automate repetitive tasks and streamline routine processes, liberating human resources for more strategic endeavours. Thus, companies that are interested in investing in AI for project management processes may be able to reduce their resource-dependent needs.

How to identify applicable areas where AI in project management can be incorporated

To identify applicable areas to use AI in project management, companies should consider the following steps when getting started:

  • Assess current processes: identify repetitive tasks, data-intensive processes, and areas where predictive analytics can be used for decision-making.
  • Identify pain points: determine challenges such as time tracking, resource allocation, and issues in terms of team communication that may impact project management.
  • Evaluate technological compatibility: consider how AI tools can integrate with existing project management tools and whether there are any foreseeable challenges.
  • Consider scalability: businesses will need to train employees to effectively use and manage AI-powered project management processes at scale across the organisation.

AI in project management grants professionals more time for higher-value tasks

Project management processes can be complex, resource-intensive, and time-consuming. Of the respondents who said their company is currently using AI software in project management, 58% expressed that as a result of using AI, they have more time to focus on higher-value tasks. Furthermore, nearly half (49%) cited that they can interpret data quicker and more efficiently. 

Of those respondents who are interested in using AI in PM processes, 34% expect to interpret data faster and more effectively, and 26% expect to have more time to focus on higher-value tasks due to using it. Therefore, companies or employees considering implementing the technology can also anticipate that it will offer benefits to some degree.

In addition, organisations that currently use AI tech in project management are witnessing further benefits. As a result of AI tech’s capability to automate tasks, it’s no surprise that a significant portion of respondents say their company is benefiting from that automation. Automating repetitive and tedious tasks frees up employees’ time for more complex tasks. Organisations can also use this extra time to train and upskill their employees, which can help mitigate the causes of project failure in an organisation.

Infographic showing the top three benefits companies are experiencing as a result of using AI in project management

Even more significantly, an overwhelming majority (a combined total of 89%) of respondents who use AI in project management processes said they are satisfied, of which 47% said they are moderately satisfied and 42% are very satisfied. It may seem like a win-win situation in which AI software positively impacts both employees and organisations, but can the same be said for the costs associated with the technology? We explore this in the next section.

Companies using AI in project management report a positive ROI and plan to increase their spend

With the recent resurgence of AI, the technology is embedding itself into organisations across sectors and is transforming decision-making. The capabilities of the technology can help streamline business processes and this may have created an interest in terms of investment. This demand is evident in Australia, where the AI market is projected to reach US$6.24 billion in 2024, with an expected annual growth rate of 16%. How is this market growth represented in companies using AI software for project management, and do they plan to increase their spending?

Nearly all respondents (a combined total of 98%) who use AI software in project management estimate that their company will increase their investment relative to their current investment in the next two years. A third (33%) expressed an 11% -30 % increase in spending, which may emphasise the benefits of technology for organisations. Remarkably, just over three-quarters (76%) of these respondents also said there has been a positive return on investment (ROI) since their company started using AI in project management processes.

A gauge chart showing the projected AI investment increase over the next two years of companies that are currently using the software in project management processes

In terms of adoption timelines, 85% of respondents who are currently using AI software in project management said their company had implemented the software less than two years ago and a third (33%) indicated that its uptake was within the previous year. As such, we can infer that there is a steady uptake of AI in project management, represented by Australia's overall AI market growth.

Tips for businesses before investing in AI

Businesses that are interested in investing in AI for project management processes should consider the following before making a decision:

  • Identify the costs: determine the total costs of AI tech ownership by including the cost of software, hardware, maintenance, implementation, training, and potential integration with existing systems.
  • Analyse the return on investment (ROI): track and analyse financial performance and make predictions by analysing historical data and market trends.
  • Evaluate the benefits: consider AI tech's benefits to your business as outlined above and weigh them against the costs to determine if the investment is worthwhile. 
  • Assess the risks: evaluate the potential risks associated with AI integration, such as data security, accuracy, and the need for adequate training for project teams.

A lack of strategy is holding back AI in project management uptake

Inevitably, there will be risks associated with using AI software, so we asked our respondents who are not planning to implement AI in their organisation why. Of all respondents, 13% said their company has no plans to utilise AI-powered software for project management. Furthermore, nearly 3 out of 10 respondents (31%) cited a lack of a clear strategy for AI as a reason not to integrate such tech in project management processes.

Bar graph showing the top five most frequently cited reasons why companies are not planning to use AI in project management

On the flip side, 22% of these respondents would be more likely to adopt AI tech that is more mature. ahead of having a clear strategy (21%). Similarly, of the respondents who are interested in implementing AI in PM processes, 26% also frequently cited the immaturity of AI technology as a challenge for adopting AI for project management.

Although AI technology is not entirely new, following Gartner’s hype cycle for AI, the technology is indicated to develop and mature where more instances of how the technology can benefit organisations are widely understood. As the technology matures, companies may start funding pilot projects, however, conservative companies may remain cautious.

In addition, of the respondents using AI in project management processes, 78% said their company has policies and guidelines, and a combined total of 92% said they have received training. Companies can prepare a clear strategy for using AI in project management by having comprehensive policies and guidelines and training employees to use the technology safely. 

In conclusion, the integration of AI tech in project management holds promising potential for automation tasks, improving decision-making, and enhancing overall efficiency by streamlining processes. As organisations continue to explore and adopt AI-driven solutions, proactive planning and strategic implementation will be key to realising the full benefits of AI in project management.

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To collect this data, GetApp interviewed 545 employees at companies in Australia in September 2023. The respondents for this survey had to fulfil the following criteria:

  • Be an Australian resident; 
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 65 years old;
  • Work full-time or part-time;
  • The company they work for uses project management software and has more than one employee;
  • They themselves use a computer to perform daily tasks at work at least sometimes;
  • Be either moderately or very involved in project management processes within the company.

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

About the author

Andrew is a Content Analyst for GetApp, giving SMEs insights into tech, software and business trends. Interest in entrepreneurship, furthering projects and startups.

Andrew is a Content Analyst for GetApp, giving SMEs insights into tech, software and business trends. Interest in entrepreneurship, furthering projects and startups.