The Project Analyst: Everything You Need to Know
Why is the project analyst so important for your agency’s growth? Let’s answer this question once and for all.
The project analyst supports the entire project lifecycle, from gathering insights and delivering reports to supporting communication. This article will tell you everything you need to know about the day-to-day workflows of a project analyst, how to become one, and how to optimize your processes with PSA software.
The Role of the Project Analyst
A project analyst contributes significantly to a project’s success. They are tasked with overseeing project development, aligning project ideas with company objectives, and providing insightful data analysis to optimize performance.
A project analyst is usually a link in the chain between a project manager or project coordinator and external stakeholders — as such, it is often considered a junior or mid-level position within agencies.
Project Analyst vs Similar Job Titles
There can be confusion regarding the differences between various project management offices (PMO) or agency roles, such as project managers and business analysts. Depending on your company size and project type, the job of a project analyst often falls into the sphere of either of the two roles.
However, we can distinguish them in the following way:
- Project analyst vs project manager: In this dichotomy, a project analyst is often seen as a role that assists the project manager with granular project tasks, such as information gathering or data analysis, while the project manager oversees the large picture of the project.
- Project analyst vs business analyst: The role of a business analyst (BA) and project analyst is similar in many ways, but the breadth of their focus varies. A BA’s work belongs in the larger domain of agency operations, as they work to improve business processes and systems through analysis and collaboration. On the other hand, a project analyst’s work is limited to a specific client engagement.
Key Responsibilities of a Project Analyst
The responsibilities of a project analyst are varied. They include mostly handling data to ensure successful project outcomes but also require advanced soft skills for communication with stakeholders and alignment with project team members.
We can organize these key duties into three categories:
- Data analysis: The project analyst is expected to conduct detailed research during the project planning phase to gauge whether an agency can successfully take on new client engagements. This also includes monitoring key performance indicators after project kick-off to ensure everything proceeds according to agency and project objectives.
- Supporting execution: Beyond data handling, project analysts are essential in facilitating project execution. They ensure that stakeholders are kept in the loop through effective communication strategies. Additionally, they support project teams by providing timely information, reports, and insights. This is an important part of both risk and change management.
- Goal alignment: Project analysts also take a broader view, analyzing overall project performance within the context of the agency’s operations. They evaluate how individual projects contribute to the agency’s strategic objectives, ensuring that it meets its immediate goals while aligning with the long-term vision and success of the agency.
A key role in this is played by project management software. Project analysts must understand how to get the most out of agency tools to ensure efficient processes. These types of tools can also provide significant support to various project activities, such as financial analysis and tracking project schedules and project scope.
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Best Project Management Tools
According to research by SoDa & Productive, as many as 17% of agencies are at a low level of operational maturity, meaning that they are largely or mostly dependent on spreadsheets for their project management. Only 14% use an integrated platform enabling real-time analysis.
This is especially interesting when considering the many benefits that software brings to project progress and financial analysis. A recent survey by Capterra reports them as being:
- Improved timeline estimation (60%)
- More effective resource management (55%)
- Enhanced team communication (49%)
- Improved budgeting and cost savings (48%)
- More accurate KPIs (38%)
Though there are many different types of tools that drive project improvement and organizational goals, we can roughly separate them into specialized and all-in-one solutions. A specialized tool usually focuses on one facet of project management, such as budgeting, time tracking, or resource planning. An all-in-one tool aims to integrate these functions into a single platform.
A popular example of an all-in-one tool is Productive, a popular solution for agencies of all shapes and sizes.
The fact that Productive is agency-focused means that the whole ecosystem fits together so that there are fewer tools we have to pull together in order to do what we need to do.
Now, let’s consider how agency management software like Productive can support the day-to-day activities of the average project analyst.
1. Analyzing Project Feasibility
Gauging project feasibility is essential to ensuring the project is viable, aligns with business goals, and can be completed within budget and time constraints. It helps shape the project plan by identifying potential risks, resource requirements, and return on investment, guiding informed decision-making and project prioritization.
One way in which an agency project management software like Productive can help you foresee the impact of certain projects is to use financial and resource forecasting. An example of this is utilization rate insights, which you can use to gauge resource capacity. This helps you determine if you’ll be able to deliver a project on time or if there’s a need to fill in resource gaps for certain positions or seniority levels.
That’s a key thing that we get out of the reports that really feeds into our utilization and resourcing. If we know we’re doing 30% on internal projects, then we know we’ve got the capacity to take on more client work.
2. Tracking KPIs
A project analyst significantly influences decision-making processes by providing critical insights and data analysis. They shape project progress by assessing risks and opportunities and guiding management decisions toward achieving set goals.
- Budget burn
- Forecasted revenue
- Profit margin
- Estimated vs actual time
With Productive, you can use Resource Planning to schedule your project teams and view the impact of this process on your project finances. The Profitability view forecasts these financial KPIs to help you make data-driven decisions for your projects. To plan out various scenarios, you can use tentative bookings to schedule people without making an impact on your confirmed capacity — then, after viewing your metrics, you can easily convert this into real bookings.
Find out more about Productive’s financial forecasting:
3. Fostering Communication
According to research by McKinsey, employees spend almost 2 hours every day or 9 hours per week trying to find the information they need to work on their tasks. The project analyst aims to streamline this by supporting the project team with key information, such as project reports and stakeholder feedback.
However, the process of carrying information back and forth between different teams can be difficult and often invites misunderstanding or information loss. One thing that can make a project analyst’s job much easier is a software interface for viewing project progress and tasks.
For example, Productive’s Project Management lets you switch between six different project views, including Gantt and Kanban, supporting various project management styles.
Another key feature is task management, which helps organize the minute details of a project according to their hierarchy, as well as centralize communication in the comment section. Notifications in Productive keep everything up to speed while allowing customization according to preferred frequency or device (in-app, email).
Related: Workstreams Explained: Boost Your Agency’s Project Management
4. Managing Documentation
Another key factor in supporting information-sharing on a client project is managing documentation and report output.
There are various ways in which professional services software can support this. For example, Productive’s Docs provides a way to manage your project documentation on a single platform. You can collaborate with people on pages in real time, input multimedia content, view your version history, and create tasks directly from your notes.
Another key factor is ensuring that all relevant parties have access to key project data. Many tools, including Productive, help you generate reports from templates and enter agency-specific parameters with custom fields. You can also gather these reports into custom dashboards and share them with specific teams or individuals or schedule them to be sent by email.
We can pull up data really quickly now, tailor it to our needs, and create all kinds of reports in a fraction of time compared to before.
Becoming a Project Analyst
Here, we’ll consider the practicals of becoming a project analyst, including necessary qualifications and skills, certifications, salary expectations, and career paths.
Skills and Qualifications Required
According to LinkedIn, some of the most important skills for a project analyst include:
- Excellent organization, problem-solving skills, and communication skills
- Analyzing complex data and turning it into easily digestible reports for management
- Proficiency in project management tools and business budgeting software
- Domain-specific knowledge or experience, depending on your industry
Regarding qualifications, Business Student states that most project analysts have a bachelor’s degree in finance, business administration, public administration, or a related field. However, it’s becoming increasingly increasingly common for a master’s to be required, particularly the master of business administration (MBA).
Project Analyst Certifications
Some core certifications for a project analyst include:
- Certified Management Consultant (CMC)
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
Useful certifications for specific project management methodologies include:
- PRINCE2 certification
- Certified ScrumMaster
- Six Sigma Certifications
- Agile Certified Practitioner
Project Analyst Certifications
According to Zippia, a project analyst’s entry-level position is either project management (20%), internships (7%), or administrative assistance (7%). The next step in this process is usually becoming a senior project manager, consultant, or business analyst.
Salary Ranges for Project Analysts
According to Glassdoor, a project analyst has an average salary of $75,633 per year, ranging from $66k to $98k per year across all industries. When it comes to the top-paying industries, Glassdoor names financial services ($89k median), information technology ($88k median), and manufacturing ($85k median).
Salary can also vary largely according to location:
Employees with Project Analyst in their job title in San Diego, California earn an average of 13.1% more than the national average. These job titles also find higher than average salaries in New York, New York (4.9% more) and Los Angeles, California (4.3% more). The lowest salaries can be found in Boston, Massachusetts (16.0% less), Chicago, Illinois (6.1% less) and Washington, District of Columbia (1.2% less).
The Project Analyst Role in Professional Services: Key Takeaways
The unique role of a project analyst is a vital one for driving agency success and project improvements. With excellent communication skills and an analytical mindset, the project analyst can make the most complex projects seem like a breeze.
The specifics of a project analyst role can differ depending on the size of your agency and your industry. This also relates to your career path and compensation. However, one thing is certain: the right project management tool is crucial in supporting a project analyst’s day-to-day workflow.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one agency management software, consider booking a demo with Productive.
How do you become a project analyst?
To become a project analyst, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree or potentially a master’s degree in business or a related field. Project management experience is often expected, though your career path may differ depending on your industry and location. Industry certifications are another essential part of boosting your qualifications.
What level is a project analyst?
A project analyst generally operates at a mid-level within an agency’s project management hierarchy, forming a link between project managers and product owners and business stakeholders. As such, this is often considered a junior or mid-level role, though this might differ depending on your specific industry context.
What is the difference between a project manager and a project analyst?
The difference between a project manager and a project analyst can often be small but no less significant. The project manager is considered a more high-level role that oversees the progress of the entire project, while the analyst provides support with data-driven insights, risk management, and
Which of the following are project analyst responsibilities?
A project analyst is responsible for supporting the project team, conducting research, generating reports, and tracking performance indicators. They also handle project meetings with stakeholders and monitor the project budget.
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