Siberia | Technology & innovation

AI to determine deadlines for IT projects

19 Nov '21
IT project management cannot be imagined without planning and evaluating tasks in terms of their execution time. Today, there are many tools that synchronize all departments from developers to salespeople with each other, but the project manager evaluates the final result for the customer, based on the experience. The forecast is not always accurately calculated, which leads not only to the loss of finances, but also to the rupture of relations with the client.

At the autumn business accelerator A: START of the Technopark of the Novosibirsk Academgorodok, the development team presented the KANCAST project - an application that helps the product manager to predict the exact time of a task using a neural network. Read about how developers teach artificial intelligence and why it is relevant for project IT teams in our material.

KANCAST offers a system with a self-learning algorithm that calculates the timeline of tasks and projects, monitors their progress in real time and notifies product managers of deadline shifts. Thanks to the statistics collected and processed by the application, product managers, team leads and salespeople will be able to save working time by an average of 40%.
I have been working in the IT industry for over 10 years, and from my own experience I know that it is not always possible to determine the deadline with 100% accuracy. Especially if the project has a multi-level workflow tied to different departments, and the delivery of features is long and unpredictable. Therefore, the idea arose to optimize this process by training artificial intelligence, - shared Maxim Konin, CEO of the project.
The user of the system starts a task and estimates its complexity by a set of criteria that are personally selected for each project taking into account the specifics. For example, the field of programming, the need to make changes to the old code, the complexity of business logic, the need for integration with external systems. Then the system builds a time forecast for the passage of the task through the full working cycle. The workflow is also configurable for the project. The system monitors the progress of tasks and gives a visual warning when the deadline is shifted.
The deadline for completing tasks is influenced by many factors that are difficult to assess when planning - from banal snacks to force majeure situations. A product must go through many stages before it is available to the end consumer. All this together makes project planning a rather non-trivial task, and the person in charge of forecasting is equated with a soothsayer. We decided to build an adequate, and most importantly, an impartial model of working with uncertainty, excluding the human factor.

Of course, Agile and Scrum practices are now very popular. However, their disadvantages are a large amount of routine work and an error in estimation, which is done by a person, not a machine. Teams spend a lot of time (about 6 hours per developer) to evaluate tasks and control deadlines, added Maxim Konin.
As part of A: START, the team conducted 10 problematic interviews with IT owners-companies both in Russia and in the USA. Four companies received early access to the system for training the neural network and further collaboration. A full-fledged web service is already ready, and now the developers continue to collect a data set for forecasting.
The dataset is assembled for a specific product and company. When a team starts using our service, at the beginning there is a training period for the system. Further, the trained algorithm predicts timelines for tasks, the algorithm self-corrects when new data arrives. Now the system is used by one team of five people throughout the year. Four more companies will join them soon, Maxim Konin emphasized.
In the future, the developers plan to integrate with Jira, Asana, Youtrack and other popular task trackers and place them in their public marketplaces. There are also plans to improve the algorithm and build more complex forecasts, not only for IT projects, but also for the instrument-making industry.


Help:

The Akademgorodok Technopark Foundation is a development institute established in 2006 by the Government of the Novosibirsk Region, the Novosibirsk Mayor's Office, the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Novosibirsk State University to build an effective system for generating, developing, supporting and promoting high-tech business in the Technopark of the Novosibirsk Academgorodok.

The Foundation implements such projects in the Academpark as: the business incubator of the Academpark, business accelerator A: START, the regional office of the Innovation Promotion Fund, the infrastructure center HealthNet NTI and others.

Business Accelerator A: START is one of the best acceleration programs in Russia, thanks to which, since 2010, innovative startups in the field of medicine, IT, instrumentation, nano- and biotechnology have been created and developed at Academpark. For 11 years, the project has helped create more than 200 successful startups.
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