Have you been following the recent developments in AI with equal curiosity as I?
Isn’t it mind-boggling to see how AI can tell funny jokes, how quickly renders beautiful images based on a few lines of input or how it generates compelling product descriptions within a few seconds?
You know, I’ve been wondering for a while what AI can do for the area I’m in – project management. PM is a largely human-driven area that relies heavily on personal interaction and soft skills. We already use technology but it’s mostly to be more efficient and to organize huge amounts of information we are dealing with. Automation and artificial intelligence hasn’t dominated project management yet.
Until now …. 🙂
Today you’ll learn about an exciting AI feature that can speed up some of your work, especially around project planning and preparation.
I already wrote about the tool Tom’s Planner a while ago – it’s a web-based Gantt charting & project planning tool that has been around since 2009, and which – in its refreshed design keeps exciting people who need to quickly assemble project plans for their clients.
The cool thing is:
Tom’s Planner has just added a new feature that generates detailed project plans to your specification – completely automatic!
Let me show you how the AI feature (called AI assist) works.
Imagine this scenario:
Your company is planning to redesign and relaunch its dated website with a fresh modern look, new content and with state-of-the-art navigation capabilities.
You have been put in charge of leading this project. But so far, it’s just a vague idea and you need to create a detailed action plan for it.
In the pre-AI days, here is what you would do:
- You would spend hours researching the web to gather information about how to structure your project – basically what the key steps are in a website relaunch
- You would reach out to different service providers or agencies in the hope of gaining some insights about how to approach your project (but they want to give you all of the information unless you hire them for the project)
It’s really difficult to build a project plan from scratch when you have no basis – no template that already provides the basic steps.
How to build a project plan in 2023 (using AI)
Step 1: Launch Tom’s Planner
I log into my Tom’s Planner account at tomsplanner.com.
Step 2: Create a new project schedule
Creating a new project schedule is very simple. We’ll name it Website Relaunch Project.
Step 3: Launch AI-assist & generate your project plan
The feature that provides automated project plan creation is called ‘AI assist’.
All I do is describe the project I want to create a schedule for. This is done in a similar prompt fashion as you may have seen from ChatGPT (Tom’s Planner is based on the same underlying technology).
I could add more details to further specify the type of project, but I kept this example very simple. However, I mentioned this was about a corporate website relaunch and not about some personal website, a gym or school website etc. because such sites would involve a different approach and consequently result in a different project schedule.
Then I press Create chart.
Now the magic happens.
Tom’s Planner’s AI assist feature builds a project plan for me – completely automatically and simply with the click of a button.
By the way, you can even specify the desired level of detail, plus you can choose the language the project plan should be created in:
Voilà, here is your AI-generated project schedule
It just took a few seconds for Tom’s Planner to complete the draft schedule for our website relaunch project.
Here is what the AI-generated project schedule looks like:
Tom’s Planner has generated a work breakdown structure for our website relaunch project. The AI-generated WBS includes about 50 action steps covering all main phases – including requirement gathering, design and planning, development, testing & QA as well as deployment and launch and post-migration steps.
What you don’t see in the image yet are the taskbars typical for a Gantt chart, indicating the start date and finish date of each activity.
The task bars need to be added by us once we have finalized the WBS.
Let’s work on our schedule.
Step 4: Refining and detailing our schedule (using AI help)
You can see the generated WBS is still is quite high-level (image above)
What if we want more detailed steps?
We can either manually break a step down into substeps …
… or we can rely on AI help once again!
Tom’s Planner has a nice feature that allows you to further break down activities and build a more granular project schedule.
Here is how you would use it:
I want to detail the wireframing steps.
To do so, I simply select the Wireframing activity, right-click, choose AI-assist and select ‘Break this activity further down into a new group’.
And this is the result:
We now have broken the Wireframing activity into 11 specific sub-actions and deliverables.
All with just a click of a button.
Tom’s Planner even gives you the option to further specify the modification you want the AI to make to your schedule, because the more precise your input, the more likely you are going to get the schedule you are looking for.
Let’s have AI alter our schedule based on our specifications:
Instead of the generic Designing & Planning activity group, I would like to see steps for each page that is usually found on a corporate website.
This is what we get:
Again, a breakdown by page – all done by AI.
I could have been more specific in my request. For example, I could have asked for the pages typically found on the manufacturer’s website, a wholesaler’s website or the website of a clothing retailer – and AI assist would have gathered pages relevant for such those types of businesses. But you can already see from this example how powerful the functionality is.
What are its limitations?
The AI platforms like GPT-4 rely on publicly accessible information for providing their services. This means that when you make a request to the AI like, ‘generate a project plan for the construction of a nuclear power plant’, whether you get a detailed result depends on whether there is enough useful information about building power plants out there on the web. For many types of projects such as IT projects, there is plenty of information available so you will end up with a pretty good first draft of your project schedule, and then you can refine it based on your requirements.
One thing I didn’t mention yet: AI assist will also work with existing schedules. So if you already have a project schedule you want to refine and expand, you can ask AI assist to suggest additional activities or break down any of the steps into sub-steps.
Try out Tom’s Planner project schedule generator
Do you want to try the project schedule generator I just discussed in this article? Go to https://www.tomsplanner.com and scroll down to the section “Do you already have a project in mind?”. There you can specify your project and then just let AI do the work. You don’t need to sign up for anything, you can just play around with the tool.
Note: I am not receiving any benefits from featuring this tool. I only recommend useful tools that I believe might help you with your work.