We often hear from clients who know they need administrative help, but don’t know where to start or what exactly they need. This can be overwhelming to think through, not to mention the stresses of the hiring process itself.

In order to determine whether a virtual assistant or project manager is right for you and your team, you’ll want to understand the difference between the two and then compare the positions to your list of needs.

If you want to know the success secret many of our clients discover, it’s this: often times many companies need both project management AND virtual assistance, not one or the other.

A virtual assistant answers to one individual, typically a higher level member of a team who has surmounting responsibility. This higher level person realistically can’t accomplish the demands of their position and maintain healthy work-life balance with only 24 hours in each day. A VA’s bottom line matches that of the person they are assisting. They are not only organizers, they are also do-ers, strategizers, and processors. They can help identify a need, execute the task needed to meet that need, and implement process to ensure that need is consistently met in the future.

If a VA is successful, they “learn” the person they are assisting inside and out, anticipate their needs, sniff out additional ways to take work off their plate, and proceed accordingly.

A project manager on the other hand is an organizer, communicator, and manager of many different individuals. PMs manage teams and monitor project progress to completion. They do not answer to one individual specifically, but rather the project itself is their bottom line. Project managers are deadline and priority oriented and work well under pressure. They can context switch, work with a variety of personalities and styles, and handle obstacles.

Project managers are successful when they can anticipate obstacles and roadblocks, effectively set and reset expectations, and keep everyone updated and on the same page.

If you are looking to add someone to your team to oversee specific projects which have established end goals, you likely need a project manager. In general, most companies have or can certainly benefit from someone who can oversee specific team-wide projects from beginning to end. In fact, one of the most common reasons clients come to us to fill a project management role is because someone on a team is filling this role while also trying to fill the needs of their actual title, which is not project management. Additionally, having someone on the team who can manage the entire team when it comes to projects is invaluable, since being able to communicate with numerous individuals who are all unique in their ways of working is no easy feat.

If you are looking to add someone to specifically lighten your workload, or the workload of a high level member of your team, you likely need a virtual assistant. In general, if you can afford an assistant you probably would benefit from having one. Virtual assistants handle everything that distracts an individual from working in their unique ability, whether that’s an initiative that’s been on the back burner because there isn’t time to work on it, or the management of tasks, calendars, and communication channels on behalf of a busy individual. Having someone who prioritizes one individual’s bottom line means the team gains a member who learns the business inside and out, allows it to grow due to the numerous responsibilities they take on, and pushes the person they are assisting towards their overall mission and success.

If the success secret I mentioned above (most companies benefit from bringing on VAs and PMs, not one or the other) resonates but also scares you, there are several ways to navigate this realization.

You can start both positions out on a part time basis so they have time to grow into the positions (and you have time to roll their payment out gradually rather than suddenly). Alternatively, you can start with a VA and promote them to PM when it makes sense, allowing them to then train the VA that comes in to replace them. Another common route is to have one individual serve as both roles, for example having them work for 20 hours per week as a VA and 20 hours per week as a PM. If your company is large enough there’s a likelihood that eventually you would need to bring on another individual so that both positions can become full time to effectively handle a large workload, but this is somewhere to start.

If you’d like some help in fleshing out whether your company could benefit from hiring a PM, VA, or both, please reach out to mikala@satiatedartists.com to get a complimentary call scheduled with our CEO, Laura. We’ll actively listen and point you in the right direction.

-Mikala Francini