How effective are your project administrators?

The business world today is a highly competitive and fast-paced environment in which the rapid creation and delivery of high quality products and services is critical to business survival. To meet these demands, modern organisations are turning more and more to project management to assist in decreasing time to market, control expenses, ensure quality products, and enhance profitability.

Managing projects however generates a flood of information and the ultimate success of the project depends on how well this information is managed. For success, projects not only require a competent and capable project manager, they also require tools, methods and, most importantly, someone with administrative skills and training i.e. a project administrator. An effective project administrator frees the project manager to deal with people, project, technical, and stakeholder management issues by taking care of the day-to-day administration of the project.

In short, project administrators are administrative professionals who assist in the preparation, reporting and analysis of projects under the supervision of a project manager. They assist a project manager by performing many of the administrative tasks required for the smooth running of the project.

The project administrator might also be called upon to provide administrative support not only to the project manager but also to the entire project team. Examples of such duties include helping to prepare presentations, arranging correspondence with the public, taking minutes during meetings, scheduling meetings and workshops, calling contractors, making appointments, ordering supplies, doing site visits, travel coordination, and preparing reports. They are also responsible for making sure the team adheres to necessary compliance regulations, preparing budgetary reports, and tracking expenses. Some project administrator positions may also require extensive travel. Other than a general background in administration, project administrators must also have a sound knowledge of projects and project management.

From a competency and capability perspective, a project administrator must be able to follow instructions well, but should also be able to take the initiative. An effective project administrator must be comfortable working in a highly busy and sometimes stressful environment, and must be able to contribute as part of a team. They should be organised, detail-oriented, reliable, punctual, be able to multitask, prioritise, and meet deadlines as needed. They should also be able to take notes in meetings and prepare minutes.

Specific skills required by project administrators include the following:
Good leadership skills.
Good analytical skills.
Good Inter-personal skills.
Sound project management background and knowledge
Adept at using computer and project management applications
Good oral and written communication abilities
Be proactive
Should have word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation software skills to be able to produce reports and presentations for the project manager
Have general filing and other office administration skills.

Project administration is not only a support function, it is also a great way to learn exactly how projects work. The successful project administrator can, if they are keen, broaden their management skills to develop themselves into fully fledged project managers.

Project management is being recognized as a profession and so is project administration. The functions and responsibilities of a project administrator can vary from organization to organization, from project to project, and indeed from project manager to project manager.

Very often, project administrators are referred to as project secretaries but the function goes way beyond the secretarial level in that it encompasses many of the more technical functions of project management. Project administrators therefore can be seen as the project’s “office manager”, as well as the project coordinator and administrator. In short, a project administrator is the project manager’s indispensable “right-hand” person and no project can afford to not have an effective project administrator on board!

For more insights join the Effective Project Administration course held by Alusani Skills & Training Network®. Please contact Alusani® for the latest dates. You can save up to R1000, when you register and pay early! For more information call 011 447 7470, email faith@alusani.co.za or visit the website www.alusani.co.za

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