Learn About the Role of a Project Coordinator

Businessman and busineswoman with file folder talking in office
Businessman and busineswoman with file folder talking in office. Westend61/Westend61/Getty Images

As any experienced project manager knows, large projects aren't just time-consuming; they can also be complicated to organize. With hundreds of tasks to organize, papers to file and employees to manage, making sure the project is completed as quickly and efficiently as possible is no easy job.

This is where a project coordinator comes in. A project coordinator is the member of a project management team responsible for keeping the project organized and running smoothly.

The project coordinator works alongside the project manager to track and dispense all of the information the various team members need to do their jobs effectively. The project coordinator is responsible for keeping the entire project running smoothly.

How a Project Coordinator Is Different from a Project Manager

While project managers and project coordinators often work alongside each other in complementary roles, their actual job descriptions are unique. Project coordinators gather and dispense the needed information and updates and coordinate the work throughout the project lifecycle. Once the project is coordinated, it is up to the project manager to see the project through to completion.

The project manager appoints the project coordinator and the two individuals do work side-by-side throughout the process, but the coordinator is mostly involved in project information, while the project manager makes sure the project gets done.

What Types of Tasks a Project Coordinator Does

Project coordinators must be flexible and adept at multi-tasking, as they are generally required to perform a wide variety of tasks on a daily basis, sometimes even simultaneously. While the specific role of the project coordinator will vary somewhat from company to company, the following are tasks that project coordinators are typically expected to accomplish.

  • Organize meetings, team celebrations
  • Arrange for meetings between team members, and between team members and clients
  • Record minutes at meetings
  • Keep detailed project notes and records
  • Develop project strategies
  • Create project schedules
  • Create task lists for team members
  • Monitor project progress, budget, hours, etc
  • Track and manage incoming paperwork
  • Keep all members of the team up-to-date with current information and paperwork
  • Communicate with team members to ensure optimal strategy and maximum efficiency

The Job Requirements of a Project Coordinator

Because the success of a project depends on the project coordinator's ability to do his or her job well, companies looking to hire project coordinators are generally quite selective about who they will hire. While a formal degree in project management is not required, your potential employer will likely expect you to have a few years of experience in the industry you will be working for, which may include a degree in the field.

In addition to training and experience, you may need experience in various project management techniques or software packages, such as PRINCE2, Microsoft Office or Primavera. You will definitely need excellent verbal and written communication skills, organizational skills, and the ability to multitask effectively in a fast-paced environment.

What It's Like to Be a Project Coordinator

The job of a project coordinator is busy, fast-paced, interesting and challenging. Project coordinators are expected to complete a variety of different tasks, many of which will vary on a day-to-day basis.

While project coordinators typically work with other people on the project team over the course of the day, parts of the job could potentially be done from home or another remote location if the company allows it. Some companies may require project coordinators to work overtime and/or outside of normal business hours, which can interfere with family life and responsibilities.

What's Next for a Project Coordinator

Successful project coordinators can go on to lots of different roles. Your exposure to projects means that over time you'll no doubt pick up the skills to manage smaller projects.

You can then move into a role as a project manager. Alternatively, you could move into the Project Management Office and take a position in a more central management function. You've also still got the option of moving back into a departmental or line role, perhaps as a team leader, or running an admin team. You'll definitely have the experience to do that.

Many people use project coordination to test out whether or not they want to become a project manager, and it can act as a stepping stone into taking on more responsibility (and being paid more). If you want to check out project management and explore what could be open to you, then this is a great starting point for your career.

The role of a project coordinator is an important one. If you are organized, efficient, good at multi-tasking, an excellent communicator and drive to succeed, project coordinator may be just the right job for you.