Projects have a lot of moving parts. Even projects in small organizations can call for multiple people and heavy software usage to deliver the end result on time.
As organizations grow, they begin breaking down the project management process into ever more distinct roles. The most prominent of these is the project manager, who oversees the entire endeavor.
But most project managers don’t have time for “on-the-ground” stuff like gathering data and doing paperwork.
That’s why organizations hire project analysts.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the roles a project analyst plays, and how they differ from the project manager. Plus, you’ll discover the skill set of a strong project analyst, and how to make their job easier with a Work OS.
What is a project analyst?
A project analyst helps the project manager to plan and manage projects. They provide the project manager with much of the data they need to make the big-picture decisions.
Project analysts are sometimes called project management office analysts, or PMO analysts.
Project analyst vs. project manager — what’s the difference?
There are lots of “project this” and “project that” job titles. What makes a project analyst and project manager different?
Well, they can be the same person in a few instances. Smaller organizations without the resources to have both, and larger companies with simpler, low-risk projects often combine the roles.
However, project management and project analysis responsibilities differ. As projects become more complex, the organization will often split the roles.
So let’s distinguish them.
Project managers oversee the entire project, from planning to execution to completion. They delegate the more involved tasks to their project analyst.
The project analyst is often a junior or mid-level position that, as mentioned, reports to the project manager. They assist with overall planning and management, but do the “on-the-ground” work — such as information gathering and data analysis.
What makes a good project analyst?
A good project analyst has most, if not all, the following skills and traits.
Project management abilities
Most obviously, a good project analyst should have strong project management abilities. They should understand the complete project life cycle.
As an aside, if you’d like a little more help understanding the project life cycle, you can read our article.
Poor data quality costs businesses millions of dollars every year.
Since projects are central to organizational success, the project analyst should be adept at data analysis. It’ll save the company plenty of cash.
Being sharp with software is essential to doing well as a project analyst, especially given their data analysis responsibilities.
Of course, having software that adapts to the analyst — not the other way around — reduces the need for them to be super software-savvy.
Work OS platforms are exactly that. A good Work OS like monday.com’s has boards that are highly customizable so the project analyst can rearrange things as needed.
Business and operations knowledge
The project analyst must have a keen grasp of operations and business processes. Such knowledge helps them link each project to larger organizational goals and initiatives.
In particular, the analyst should have sufficient experience in their specific industry and, preferably, with the company for which they’re an analyst.
As you’ll see, project analysts are in regular communication with various stakeholders, whether it’s relaying project progress to senior management or corresponding with a government regulator. So, excellent verbal and written communication skills are a must.
Organization and time management skills
Project analysts also have a lot of duties to juggle. In many cases, they also have to keep track of multiple projects. To succeed, they must stay organized and know how to manage their time well.
What exactly does a project analyst do?
Project analyst is a fairly broad job title and their exact duties will differ between organizations.
That said, here are some common project analyst job responsibilities.
Assist with project planning and management
Since the project analyst works under the project manager, they’ll often find themselves supporting overall project planning and management. That includes:
- Helping team members create plans for each section of the project
- Assisting the project manager with resource allocation and scope creation
- Helping the project manager create the project schedule
- Reviewing the project budget and finances
- Conducting project meetings
Project analysts create project documentation to back up all the important project elements.
- The project schedule
- The project budget
- Project status reports
- Resource planning information and resource tracking documents
- Meeting minutes
Also, analysts often prepare, and give, presentations to internal and external stakeholders.
One of the project analyst’s main duties is to gather and analyze data to produce insights. They monitor project key performance indicators to weigh actual project progress against the plan they created with the project manager.
They also look at data from legal and regulatory standpoints to ensure projects meet with any applicable laws and regulations.
Communicate with stakeholders
Project analysts serve as the bridge between the project manager/project team and internal and external stakeholders. They may have to communicate with:
- Company owners
- Senior management
- The government
- Other teams
Analysts gather data from each stakeholder and communicate it to the project manager and team. They’ll also share project information with stakeholders.
This Project Communication Plan template from monday.com illustrates a few methods of communication a project analyst may engage in to communicate with stakeholders.
Project supportWhen not engaged in one of their many other responsibilities, the project analyst provides ongoing support to the project team.
Some areas they may help with include:
- Project budget review and updates
- Regular project progress analysis
- Keeping team informed of anomalies
- Streamlining workflows where possible
- Continuous feedback gathering from teammates to improve resource allocation
Depending on the organization, and the analyst’s skillset, they may step in and help with specific project tasks too.
How to make your project analyst’s job easier with monday.com.
Do you have a stressed-out project analyst or 2 on staff? They’re not doing their best work if they’re stressed.
You can make their job easier — and even enjoyable — thanks to all the features found in monday.com. Just take a look:
Multiple project views
Project analysts do a lot of, well, analysis. They’re constantly looking at information and communicating its meaning to stakeholders.
The ability to look at project progress from multiple views caters to every project analyst’s talents. Plus, they can view data from more angles and make better decisions
monday.com offers a ton of project views you can switch to in the click of a button:
That’s not all of them, either. There’s also
- Calendar view
- Chart view
- Kanban view
Remember, your project analyst keeps their eye on the project schedule and timeline.
Give them a way to monitor the time teammates take on each task. That way, they can move around resources as necessary
monday.com comes with a time tracking widget that’s easy to add to your board:
Oh, the timeline view in monday.com would also be nice to use here. The analyst can compare time tracked to time allocated for tasks.
Want to know how to make your project manager and analyst’s lives easier?
Get them a preset project plan they can edit to their heart’s content.
monday.com comes with plenty of customizable templates, kind of like this Project Plan template.
Reporting and analytics
With all the data analysis your project analyst is in charge of, they could use some intuitive chart making tools.
monday.com lets you make graphs from the data in your boards. Plus, you can add widgets to show other information that provides necessary context.
Reporting features go beyond basic charts, though. You can also spring for pivot boards and other advanced charts and graphs.
Project analysts help improve project decision-making
You’ll rarely find a project analyst that’s not busy. They help the project manager with the big picture stuff, yet they’re on the ground gathering information, analyzing data, and generally supporting the project effort.
To curb your project analyst’s stress, invest in a Work OS like monday.com that offers functionality and flexibility. Sign up today and try it out.