Project Management is a growing industry across all sectors, as companies and teams learn the benefits of a methodical approach to business to achieve results. A typical Project Management team could include a Project Manager or a Project Director, but there will always be a Project Assistant. But what is required to become a Project Assistant, seeing that they’re so pivotal to a project that they’re always needed?
What a Project Assistant does
Regardless of the type of business a company may do, projects always include the same key data :-
- project tasks
- project documentation
- project deliverables
- project issues
- project risks
- project plan
- Project milestones
Whilst the Project Manager or Project Director oversees the project, the Project Assistant supports them by ensuring :-
- all tasks are completed
- all documentation is received or submitted
- all deliverables are achieved
- all issues are recorded and resolved
- all risks are noted and incorporated into a Risk Management Plan
- the plan is updated with progress, as milestones are recorded
Depending on the size of a business or Project Team, the Project Assistant could be a mainly administrative or support role.
How to become a Project Assistant
It really depends on the business and their adoption of Project Management techniques, as the role of a Project Assistant may vary greatly.
For example, in a small company with a relatively new or immature approach to Project Management, a Project Assistant could simply undertake tasks assigned to them which are predominantly administrative support. This could be calls to stakeholders, recording minutes, issuing and receiving documentation etc.
In a team with a more developed Project Management philosophy, the Project Assistant could be involved in more responsibility such as preparing tenders, financial support roles and almost mirror the Project Manager in activities. Some businesses have the Project Assistant ‘chasing up’ all the information a Project Manager needs, and even undertaking some of the PM’s tasks on behalf of them.
So although a Project Assistant could be an entry-level role, it could also bring a lot of responsibility too, so companies could require more experience or qualifications.
It is unlikely a company will seek any Project Management-specific qualifications, however in companies with established Project Management teams they may offer training or certification as Continued Professional Development.
Although the requirements for what is required to become a Project Assistant may vary by industry, good administration skills along with IT competence is almost a prerequisite.
Being able to deal with people well , along with being able to cope pressure and stress – as projects often overrun or go wrong – will be beneficial.
A good secondary level of education would be considered essential for a Project Assistant role, and any industry-specific experience would be a distinct bonus.
Finally, qualifications in Office and Project Management software will be extremely helpful. Primavera, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project along with industry-specific software will always be useful for Project Assistants.