A project assistant usually helps a project manager or a project director with the duties necessary to execute a job. In most cases, this includes clerical and administrative functions. The project assistant might also attend meetings and will likely be responsible for answering questions in the project manager's absence. Depending on the size of the project, the assistant may be dedicated to a single job and project manager or might assist more than one manager on more than one project simultaneously.
The core of a project assistant's job generally revolves around clerical and administrative duties. Most projects rely heavily on files and spreadsheets, including time lines, budgets and task lists. Keeping these updated, communicating the updates and documenting changes are a critical part of project management and are duties that generally fall to the assistant when there is one. Many companies have specific requirements regarding what must be documented and what must be kept in physical files.
Other types of paperwork often fall to the project assistant as well. This can include requesting and filing insurance forms and permits, filling out purchase orders and more. It also frequently includes managing correspondence, such as providing regular reports and updates to the client.
The project assistant also will often attended meetings and participate in conference calls. This typically includes both internal team meetings as well as client meetings. In many cases, the assistant will be tasked with taking notes from the meeting and developing and distributing a meeting report afterward. An important part of such reports is the identification of action items and the assignment of responsibility for each. It is also important to identify due dates.
While the project manager or director traditionally has more responsibility for making decisions, managing customer relationships and ensuring that the project stays on budget and on schedule, the assistant must be aware of the status of the project at all times because he may be called upon to answer questions if the manager is unavailable. Project managers may be in meetings, out sick, or on vacation when a piece of information is needed by a team member or a client, for instance. Knowing where to find the data is critical.
A project assistant who is not dedicated to a single project, but rather is responsible for supporting multiple managers or multiple projects, will be responsible for executing these duties for each project. This means that the assistant must be very organized. He must also be able to prioritize duties and know what to do when the demands of two or more projects conflict.