Projects can be complex endeavors. They often have many moving parts that need to work together, and the logistics can be like a knot. That’s why distinct project management roles are adopted, so everyone isn’t pulling in different directions at once.
The project manager is responsible for bringing the project in on time and within budget, but there is a team of people who help steer that big ship successfully to port. The project manager works with the project team, vendors and others, but the project analyst is often the closest associate, as they monitor critical project KPIs such as stakeholder requirements.
Project managers and project analysts use their combined skills, competencies and knowledge to get the project done right. But what exactly is a project analyst?
What Does a Project Analyst Do?
The project analyst is on the project for many reasons. There is a lot of paperwork that needs generating, and the project manager needs to oversee, but not necessarily be involved in, every report. Therefore, the project analyst is usually a junior or mid-level position, working with and reporting to the project manager.
They begin by researching the project before it has even been pitched, by identifying trends and consulting the written agreements, including compensation clauses, what the salary rate is and overhead charges to the project.
They work with the project manager to prepare and revise all proposals, reports and presentations. They also perform analytical tasks to make sure the project is supporting its goals and objectives.
In general, the project analyst is there to help gather critical data and support the project team. In more detail, the research a project analyst will conduct includes budget tracking and financial forecasting, project evaluation and monitoring, maintaining compliance with corporate, and public relations.
The data analysis from a project will be handled by the analyst as well. They will look at key performance indicators and create a regular variance report to help the project manager track the project’s progress compared to the project plan.
The project analyst is also a go-between for the project manager and stakeholders. They help gather, analyze and communicate requirements and changes to business processes, policies, etc. It is critical that someone intimate with the project work with the stakeholders to make sure the project objectives are in alignment with the project.
General Support for the Project Team
Project analyst roles differ from organization to organization, but they are normally related to performing, analyzing and providing project analysis and support for the project team. A summary of those responsibilities follows:
- Creates, manages and distributes project reports
- Maintains project assets, communications and databases
- Evaluates and monitors project progress
- Reviews and reports on project budget
- Performs regular project analysis
- Notifies project team when project anomalies are discovered
What Are the Requirements for a Project Analyst?
Project analysts have a great deal of responsibility and, next to the project manager, are as close to the inner-workings of the project as anyone. Landing a position as a project analyst is a great way to get a foothold in the project management profession.
But what do you need to have on your resume to stand out as a qualified candidate? A bachelor’s degree in computer science, management information systems or business administration is the baseline on which to build your career.
If you have both an associate-level computer science degree and some years of experience, you can likely land an entry-level position. Once you’ve acquired the position, you can better your chances of advancement by getting some certification.
Project Analyst Certification
PMI offers a PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) certification. According to PMI, opportunities for business analysts are in demand. To get certified you must have a secondary degree, 7,500 hours of business analysis experience, 2,000 hours working on a project team and 35 contact hours of education in business analysis.
The PMI-PBA is a 200 multiple-choice question exam to be completed in four hours. Once you’ve gained certification, you’re required to earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) in business analysis topics every three years.
Project Analyst Salary
The average project analyst’s salary is in the mid-$50,000 range, depending on which organization, where it is and the level of one’s experience. The full range, including bonuses and profit sharing, is between $41,000-$80,000.
To learn more about the field of business analysis beyond the field of project management, there is the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), which offers certification, networking opportunities and whitepapers related to the career.
Can a Project Manager and a Project Analyst Be the Same Person?
A project analyst is the right-hand to a project manager, but that doesn’t mean they are exclusively two different positions. Often the duties of the project analyst is handled by the project manager. But that is only when the situation lends itself to adding these responsibilities to the project manager.
For example, a small project (be that in terms of cost, hours, scope, etc.) lends itself to folding both roles into the one of project manager. A low-risk project can also be handled solely by the project manager. Additionally, sometimes when a project employs small, high-performance teams, they have the synergy to help the project manager work more effectively.
When a Project Analyst is Needed
However, there are many factors that support the two roles on a project. If there are many components to the final product or service, for example, there is a greater need for more resources dedicated to the analysis of the project.
Another example is if there are many systems and business interfaces, or if there are complex legal, compliancy or regulatory issues. If many stakeholders are impacted by the project, then a project analyst will help keep them informed throughout the project’s life cycle. This is doubly so if stakeholders disagree over priorities.
When a project has many versions or releases, it is best to have a project analyst who understands how to allocate the requirements across those releases. Even more so when the requirements on a project are not clear, or they’re incomplete and changing. Finally, to make sure the quality of the product or service and the success are met, a project analyst is like adding insurance to the project team.
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