A woman sits at a table in a storage room and talks on the phone. The woman has long, wavy dark hair, and she wears an open chambray shirt over a white T-shirt. She sits in a yellow vinyl chair in front of an open laptop, resting one hand on the laptop's keyboard and holding her smartphone to her ear with her other hand. In the background are empty shelving units and a wall of shelves filled with cardboard boxes and pottery.
AI and machine learning software can help small businesses manage and analyze data, work out how to allocate resources, and collaborate with team members more effectively. — Getty Images/JLco - Julia Amaral

Whether rolling out new products or opening a second location, leaders need top-level and granular views of resources and risks. Project management platforms bring teams together and provide actionable insights. The latest innovations in project management software leverage artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and automation, increasing system speed and improving small business efficiency.

We reviewed emerging trends and product updates from popular small business project management solutions, including Wrike, Trello, and Monday.com. Discover how new technologies impact your company and ways to use them to reduce project failure rates and cut costs.

Generative AI streamlines project tasks

Generative AI is a time saver, offering content recommendations, editing tips, and more. Indeed, small businesses use ChatGPT to generate metadata and social media posts. However, relying on ChatGPT for everything project-related is inefficient, which is why many project management platforms are rolling out integrated generative AI features.

With AI-assisted content generation tools, your staff can brainstorm new topics, summarize meeting briefs, and edit copy. Project managers use generative AI to change the tone of their content to appeal to stakeholders without a complete rewrite of the update provided to team members.

Here’s how project management tools are incorporating generative AI:

  • Trello: Atlassian Intelligence capabilities help Trello users fix grammar, summarize content, and change tone. You can give a prompt to see suggestions or new ideas, or use AI to scan your content and find action items.
  • Smartsheet: With Smartsheet, users can add image descriptions in the Brandfolder to ensure searchability with one click. Generative AI tools will translate, write about, and summarize data in your sheet. You can also enter a prompt to generate copy.
  • Wrike: Businesses can create item descriptions or comments when drafting plans, writing project briefs, or brainstorming ideas. Wrike’s AI feature supports individual and brand voices. It also fixes spelling mistakes and translates content into different languages.

[Read more: What's the Difference Between Traditional and Generative AI?]

Technology enables faster views even with complex datasets

Powerful search functions and advanced technologies allow project management teams to find and retrieve information quickly. Whether switching between views, computing formulas, or searching for project updates, project management tools help small businesses do more in less time.

ClickUp recently debuted its universal search feature. It lets teams find files across all connected applications, from Dropbox to GitHub. Coming soon, users will have 10 times faster views, thanks to ClickUp’s RapidViews DB proprietary technology.

As of November, Smartsheet formulas run 10 times quicker than before. And Trello’s advanced search page added new filters. Users can now scan card descriptions and only see results for cards updated in the last 24 hours.

Project management solutions optimize collaboration features

Small business trends like the shift towards hybrid and remote teams affect project management. Yet, according to Wellingtone, a quarter of businesses don’t have the “right technology to enable team collaboration on informal projects, even though this makes up 20% of work time.” The future of project management software includes improvements to in-app communication and collaboration tools.

Look for product updates that give individuals a unified view of all communications, smart ways to share project statuses, and simplified interaction solutions. For instance, Nifty refactored team chat, improving performance and speed by over five times compared to the previous version. It also developed a central inbox. Users can see tasks, messages, and comments from all projects in one place.

ClickUp’s latest upgrade lets staff mention a co-worker in a comment right from their inbox, allowing them to share a private task or information without switching screens. Managers can use Asana’s AI-powered smart status feature to pull real-time data when generating status updates.

Employees can actually focus more on value-adding tasks and use the time to focus on strategic or more complex topics rather than dealing with repetitive, non-rewarding tasks.

Hari Doraisamy, Senior Director of Mission-Critical Support at SAP

Intelligent technologies let staff personalize their tools

Although projects are team efforts, every individual has a role. Traditionally, project management software offered different views for managers and employees but lacked options for users to customize their personal spaces. Today, vendors realize the importance of giving workers dynamic tools to manage their inboxes and tasks.

ClickUp provides a Personal List for users, allowing them to track items in a manner that suits them best. Smartsheet's forthcoming AI-based solution uses natural language processing (NLP) so leaders can quickly generate project or individual templates.

[Read more: Small Businesses Tasks for AI]

Automation plays a central role in small business project management

Automation technologies involving machine learning and generative AI are among small businesses' most valuable tools. For example, Asana’s smart workflows adjust over time to correspond to your company’s goals and best practices.

Stephen Xu, Head of the Project Management Office, Infrastructure Service BU, Alibaba Group, told Project Management Institute (PMI), “AI can offload project managers from hosting meetings, writing emails or recording the meeting minutes, etc. It means more time to do strategic thinking and high-level planning.”

Automation also improves worker experiences. According to PMI, Hari Doraisamy, Senior Director of Mission-Critical Support at SAP, said, “Employees can actually focus more on value-adding tasks and use the time to focus on strategic or more complex topics rather than dealing with repetitive, non-rewarding tasks.”

Project management software will provide advanced analytics

Business intelligence and analytics give small companies a competitive edge. A data-driven approach in project management lets leaders improve project outcomes and identify trends while reducing risks. Yet, Wellingtone found that 54% of project management professionals lack access to real-time key performance indicators (KPIs).

AI can develop insights from extensive datasets much quicker than manual computations. Consequently, 47% of project managers reported to PMI that “the activity most impacted by AI was analyzing data.” Predictive tools and real-time performance metrics enable small businesses to monitor projects and resources without manual intervention.

New and upcoming data analytics features include:

  • Smartsheet: AI-powered data skill tools can analyze all information in a sheet. Managers type requests into the analyze data panel, and Smartsheet creates a live chart. You can add the chart to your dashboard and it will automatically update as data changes.
  • Wrike: Any Wrike user can build customizable dashboards with next-gen Wrike Analytics. It has dozens of shortcuts and offers views of different projects and departments.

AI-enabled solutions enhance resource allocation and planning

Poor resource management is the third-largest project management challenge for organizations, according to Wellingtone. Moreover, only 29% of companies report mostly or always completing projects on time. Embracing project management software with AI-powered features helps small businesses realize higher return on investment (ROI) and meet project deadlines.

PMI found that AI innovators “delivered 61% of their projects on time” and “64% of their projects met or exceeded their original ROI estimates.” Meanwhile, AI laggards completed 47% within their deadlines and achieved their ROI for 52% of projects.

Look at how project management software solutions are leveraging technology to maximize project resources:

  • Smartsheet’s early adopter program will offer a Workload Heatmap and Workload Schedule. These tools help managers see staffing levels and adjust them as needed.
  • With Wrike Datahub, executives track all information from a single spot, including physical assets, digital files, and purchase requests. Leaders can create user attributes like professional skills, locations, and organizational relationships.
  • Asana Intelligence features offer innovative planning tools with scenario planning based on resource allocations or timelines and intelligent workloads that consider historical and future capacity.

[Read more: Smart Tips for Assigning Deadlines and Workloads to Your Employees]

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