Project administrators are responsible for various administrative duties surrounding a project. These duties may include documentation, meeting management, handling project budgets, and using time management skills to help the team stay on track. In this piece, we’ll discuss the roles and responsibilities of a project administrator and how this role matters.
No project is a one-person show—to keep your project on track and hit your goals on time, you need to collaborate with a variety of project team members at every stage. One of those people is the project administrator.
You're likely already familiar with a project manager—this is the person that leads a project and monitors its progress. Then you have the team executing the actual project. In the middle is the project administrator.
Project administrators work closely with project managers throughout the project life cycle. As they gain experience, they can use their knowledge to progress into project managers themselves. In this piece, we’ll discuss the roles and responsibilities of a project administrator and how to excel in this position.
What is a project administrator?
A project administrator is responsible for various administrative duties surrounding a project. These duties may include documentation, meeting management, handling the project budget, and using time management skills to help the team stay on track.
As project administrator, you’ll be the project manager’s first mate. Your goal is to make their job easier, and as you help the project progress, you’ll gain valuable project management experience that can grow your career.
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What does a project administrator do?
The job duties of a project administrator can be unpredictable, but there are some tasks that will remain the same across every project. If you’re applying for this job, you’ll want to ensure you have the skills necessary to handle these tasks.
An important part of a project administrator’s job is monitoring the project plan. While the project manager ensures every team member contributes to project progress, the project administrator is in charge of tracking individual tasks.
Project administrators look closely at the project schedule and get task-level updates from team members on each task. If they determine there's risk of a missed deadline, they then notify the project manager.
Some projects have hundreds of tasks, which is why tracking requires team effort and open communication between the manager and the administrator. Equally important for communication is having a central source of truth for all project information, like a project management tool. That way, the entire team can work from the same source and see exactly who’s doing what by when.
Project management involves a lot of paperwork and a manager won’t always have the bandwidth to handle documentation on their own. As project administrator, you’ll need the hard skills required to churn out process documents, fill out forms, communicate with clients, and take notes. This may sound like busy work, but the documentation you handle as an administrator is crucial to project success.
Not only will you write documents as a project administrator, but you’ll also categorize, file, share, store, and update documents. You’ll need exceptional organizational skills to handle these tasks and positively contribute to project performance.
Budget and resource management
Project administrators are often in charge of tracking expenses for a given project and overseeing a team’s resource management plan. While the project manager focuses on allocating resources and facilitating transactions for project needs, the project administrator is in the background making sure the project stays within budget.
For example, if the project administrator notices overspending while a project is in progress, they can notify the project manager so they can take action and determine where to adjust the project plan and reduce expenses.
Meetings are essential parts of the project workflow. Regular meetings can promote team collaboration and ensure there’s open communication across team roles. Managers establish the meeting structure, while administrators are typically responsible for scheduling meetings.
In addition to putting meetings on the calendar, the project administrator may be responsible for taking notes. After each meeting, it’s the project administrator who will send out meeting notes and action items, ensuring everyone on the team is up to speed.
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How to become a project administrator
Knowing what you need to get hired as a project administrator and excel in the role will set you up to positively contribute to the project life cycle. Whether you're ready to find a full-time project administrator role or you’re still working your way up with on-the-job experience, here are things to keep in mind for your resume:
Work experience in a similar role: Previous work experience is one of the most important requirements if you want to contribute to your team as a project administrator. Most project administrator positions aren’t entry level, so you’ll likely need to prove that you’ve worked in a similar role, such as a project coordinator role or a project assistant position.
Knowledge of project management software: Most project administrators rely on project management software to handle their administrative tasks. Having software knowledge will help you accomplish tasks, collaborate with your team and your project manager, and be the best project administrator you can be.
Solid organizational and time-management skills: While software automation can help you with a variety of tasks in the project administrator role, you’ll still need strong organizational and time-management skills to be efficient. Organizational skills will help you sort through tasks, manage paperwork, and offload work from the project manager. Time-management skills will help you complete tasks efficiently without burning out.
PMP / PRINCE2 certification is a plus: Some project administrators find that certifications help them grow their professional careers. The project management professional (PMP) certification and the PRojects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE 2) certification are both respected in the project management field. While these certifications aren’t requirements for the administrator role, they can help you move up the career ladder.
A master’s degree in business administration may also be of interest if you want to be a self-starter and gain additional knowledge in your field. While only a bachelor’s degree is necessary for the project administrator role, an MBA can open doors to business ventures and job types in related fields.Read: The 3 essential pieces to work management
5 tips to be a better project administrator
If you want to be a strong project administrator, the most important thing to learn is how to manage your time, how to communicate, and how to be efficient. These tips will improve your skills so that no matter what administrative task you’re handling, you can tackle it with ease.
Budget your calendar (and time)
People budget their finances and know when to eliminate or reduce expenses to stay within their means, so why can’t you do this with your time? As a project administrator with a lot on your plate, your time is precious. You can’t do everything at once, so prioritize and accomplish what you can.
You can use task management tools like an Eisenhower matrix to improve your productivity. These tools will provide you with effective methods for sorting your tasks, eliminating items when necessary, and prioritizing what matters.Read: Are you time blocking your calendar? Here’s why you should start now
An important part of time management is understanding when to delegate tasks. If you can delegate effectively, you can free up time to handle top-priority tasks. You should also make sure you feel confident in who you delegate your tasks to. Some tips for how to delegate effectively include:
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Provide the right resources
Provide clear communication
Delegation is part of being a strong leader, so if you want to lead by example, this is a critical skill to learn. Keep in mind that not only does delegating work prevent you from overworking yourself, it also gives your team members valuable exposure and experience in new subject areas. It’s okay if delegating tasks doesn’t come naturally—like many soft skills, this is something you can develop with practice.
Communicate and collaborate
As a project administrator, you’ll need to regularly communicate and collaborate with your project manager and team members. Your role is to help the project team stay organized and successful from project initiation to completion.
Some ways to foster communication with your team include:
Send a progress update every week
Set a reminder to check in with stakeholders
Hold weekly calls with your team to check in
You can use project management software to stay connected on work, communicate effectively, and track progress towards the project plan. However, video calls, online chats, and face-to-face meetings are equally important for collaboration and team morale.
Leverage project automation
Project management software can make your job as an administrator exponentially easier. You can use software to share information among team members, schedule meetings, set project deadlines and timeframes, and manage tasks. Plus, software can be used for documentation and budget administration, and to share this information with stakeholders when needed.
Project management software will make your workflow more efficient as a project administrator and reduce potential mistakes. Key project management features to help you coordinate work include:
Automation: Automate your processes to eliminate manual work.
Status reporting: Report the status of a project to share with team members and stakeholders
Project views: Get better visualization into your project and its progress.
All of your information in one place: Keep all of your project information in a shared location for everyone to view.
Goal setting and tracking: See your work in context. Set goals and track your project against those goals.
Be a team player
Evert project is a team effort. If you don’t have a team mindset, you’ll ultimately struggle to bring the project to the finish line. While everyone has professional goals they hope to achieve, being a team player is the fastest way to reach your personal and team goals.
You and your team should have a shared vision for the project that you can work towards. When communication is open and you work as a team, you can meet your end goals and celebrate that success together.
Simplify project administration with project management software
Becoming a project administrator may require years of experience and the right mix of education. But once you secure the job, the best way to excel is by familiarizing yourself with project management software.
Once you know the ins and outs of project management software, you can use it to simplify project administrator tasks and strengthen your project management skills.
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