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The Best Qualities of a Project Assistant

by Terri Williams

Project assistants support project managers in balancing the time, money and scope of a particular project. They handle administrative tasks such as scheduling and recording meetings, in addition to assembling and disseminating information. However, project assistants may also perform project management duties when necessary. Whether they’re involved in construction, information technology, engineering or various other types of industries, there are certain common qualities that make a project assistant invaluable.

Time Management and Organizational Skills

Time management and organizational skills allow project assistants to help project managers stay on track, to make sure that deadlines are being met. Project assistants need to be organized and manage their own time well, so they can stay abreast of the project at all times and know what’s going on through each phase of the project. This is crucial in helping to keep the project on time and within budget.

Adaptability and Stress Management Skills

Adaptability and stress management are project assistant skills needed to handle the many unknowns that accompany any project. It is always possible that objectives may change; there may be setbacks and the chain of command may have missing links. This uncertainty can result in mistakes, misunderstanding and miscommunication. Throughout this chaos, project assistants must be able to handle the frustration and stress that results.

Computer and Math Skills

Project assistants need good computer technology skills to send and receive email, text messages and other forms of electronic communication. They should also be adept at creating spreadsheets and using word-processing programs, in addition to being proficient in using project-planning software. Math skills are needed to help project managers create and manage budgets and perform cost estimations.

Communication Skills

According to the Project Management Institute, 75 percent of the organizations that complete an average of 80 percent of projects on time and on budget have one thing in common. They clearly communicate project information. The project assistant plays a crucial role in deciding which communication method is preferred by the stakeholders -- email, text, in person, phone -- and the desired times and frequency, and ensuring that communication meets those guidelines. Good communication skills are also necessary when meeting with workers and clients, and especially when disagreeing with them.

Leadership and Problem Solving Skills

The importance of leadership and problem-solving skills cannot be overestimated. When the project manager is not available, the project assistant may assume some of the project responsibilities. The ability to take charge when necessary and also evaluate situations and determine the proper course of action is one of the best qualities that a project assistant can possess.

About the Author

Terri Williams began writing professionally in 1997, working with a large nonprofit organization. Her articles have appeared in various online publications including Yahoo, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report University Directory, and the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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