As projects are broken down into a sequence of tasks, the benefits of project management are clear to us. Having a good strategy in place, makes projects more successful and more enjoyable in the process. Something less exciting is the amount of administration that comes with it. We understand completely why many people share a modest disdain for administrative work. With multiple creative tasks requiring your focus, the time-consuming aspect of processing paperwork seems less rewarding. Nonetheless, it plays an important role in setting your project up for success. That’s why you should set up your project administration in an efficient manner, leaving you with more time to spend on the actual project.
Project management vs project administration
Project management is applied to make sure projects are completed on time and within budget while overseeing the quality of the deliverables. A clearly defined plan ensures everybody on the team knows which tasks to work on. But they also need all information that supports this plan. Along the way, this information needs to be continuously updated in order to keep the project moving. The practice of collecting, maintaining, and updating this information is project administration.
What is project administration?
As we have just established, project administration is the practice of maintaining the information related to project management. It includes the preparation of all data needed to start a project with, tracking and reporting the data that is derived from the processes, and analyzing the progress of the project.
Any piece of information relating to a project and its updates is part of project administration. Some projects are quite straightforward, especially if a team has already worked on similar projects before. During that process, project administration plays a big role in helping the team stick to a plan. Projects that are more complex often require a lot of flexibility. The plan is often revised and adjusted, requiring different resources or activities than initially forecasted. In this case, project administration plays a big role in recording all these changes and preparing resources after each plan revision.
For example, a project might start to run over budget. As long as the progress of a project is documented correctly, the team will be able to see exactly which task, component, or activity has been driving up the costs. An analysis of the data can provide suitable solutions, pointing the team in the right direction when needed. The speed and efficiency of preparing, reporting, and analyzing data greatly depend on how well your project administration is set up. If it’s organized systematically, with each piece of information stored neatly and handled with accurate precision, you will be able to keep your project running smoothly. Moreover, you will be able to switch gears quickly, based on informed decisions. With so much depending on the availability of adequate data, it’s extremely important to find out the best way to set up your project administration.
Project administration: roles and responsibilities within the team
Of course, team members are able to assess the progress and deliverables connected to their tasks. But many companies have found that hiring a project manager (also called project leader) is an effective way to ensure good results. Sometimes the project manager takes care of the project administration too, but might be able to share this responsibility with an assistant project manager. Companies that deal with hefty, complex projects would benefit immensely from adding a project administrator.
Also referred to as a project coordinator, the project administrator takes responsibility for all the administrative components and activities. This includes overseeing the budgets, resources, and schedules and recording all the updates. In addition to this, it’s also the job of the project administrator to communicate updates and any occurring variances to the project manager. Project administration tools make all the difference, as they can easily record, process, and analyze data for the project administrator and project manager. It helps them do their job even better, and faster.
Especially for companies that don’t have a project manager or project administrator (yet), a project management tool is indispensable. It pretty much takes on almost everything these two jobs would otherwise cover. To which extent, depends on the quality of the tool. Some of the more intuitive tools automate a great deal of the work processes and generate comprehensive reports. If you want to completely optimize and integrate all your workflows, it’s best to have all your project administration in one place. By using an all-in-one project management tool, you will not have to access your administration through multiple tools and programs any more.
Setting up your project administration
Now that we have covered what project administration is, we will go more in-depth about the processes involved. Here is an overview of which administration practices you need to set up in order to keep your projects moving.
Before you can start planning a project, you need to determine which resources are required. This includes both financial and human resources. To keep projects cost-efficient, you should always prepare a realistic budget beforehand. Furthermore, you should always make sure you record which team members are on hand. Besides their availability, this also includes their specific skill sets.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail! Or at least, you will be leaving too much up to chance. To ensure your project will run smoothly, you will need to plan accordingly. This means setting up a structure or template you can use to make schedules. All the necessary details should be included in this schedule to make sure all team members know what to do, and when.
Once projects are running, the progress of all tasks should be monitored. In order to maintain a clear overview, it’s important to be able to make observations from different points of view. This will also make it easier to spot variances or other things that need attention. Practices for monitoring include making lists or visual representations. Some project management tools offer various viewing options to make this much easier. Such as Gantt charts, Kanban boards, tables, lists, charts, and graphs.
Since progress is monitored every step of the way, every change should be recorded too. Project management tools are fundamental to this, as nobody has time to take notes or create countless sheets anymore. Some of the most intuitive tools will automatically update other related processes when data is entered or adjusted, and can even provide real-time updates. This will allow you to see exactly where a project stands, at any point in time.
As data is recorded from completed projects, this can help make future resource and project planning more efficient. It will show the cost of certain tasks and activities, and which team members were required. This speeds up the process for future projects that are similar. Recording which obstacles were dealt with is also important. Even if a project failed, there is always a lesson to be learned. Thus, make sure any valuable information is documented.
A lot of employees shrug off the importance of filling in timesheets. However, time tracking is one of the most effective ways to make projects more profitable. If you make sure to set up an administrative process that makes time tracking simple and easy, team members will be likely to write their hours. Using a tool that allows them to simply set a timer, would be the perfect solution.
Throughout the time span of a project, there should be enough opportunities to discuss how things are going. With meetings at the right moments, the most valuable information can be shared, exchanged, and reviewed. Keeping an agenda and preparing the meeting topics are administrative practices aligned with this. Just like taking minutes during the meeting, and creating follow-up notes.
Compiling reports is the best way to communicate the information needed to see where a project stands. While you could collect data for this yourself to type out reports, there are various tools that can automatically generate comprehensive reports for you with just one click.
Project administration tools
While explaining different practices that are part of project administration, we have already mentioned it multiple times. A great way to organize your project administration systematically is to use project administration software. Provided that data is always entered correctly, much of the analysis is automatically done for you. Many project management tools have built-in project administration functions, facilitating easy access to relevant data besides just tracking project progression.
Furthermore, true all-in-one project management tools such as Rodeo offer support on all levels, syncing up all these work processes to really create a flow. This means you will be able to access and manage all your project management administration, through one single platform. Say goodbye to clutter, scattered workflows, and endless email threads. Using an all-in-one tool is by far the best way to set up your project administration.