The Ultimate VA Success Guide: The Ins + Outs Of Virtual Assistant Project Management

Virtual Assistant Project Management…is that a thing? Don’t VAs only do admin tasks? In this blog post, we’ll dive into the different roles that exist in an online business, the kind of online projects clients need help with, why Virtual Assistant project management is a great way to scale your business, and much more.

My Experience + Expertise As A PM

If you’ve followed me for any time, I’m sure you’ve heard me say I’m a Project Manager by trade. I spent over 20 years managing projects, setting up PMOs, and teaching project management fundamentals and tools. I love all things Project Management!

One of my biggest accomplishments was getting my PMP certification (Project Management Professional) while working in Corporate America. I don’t have a college degree, and this was one way I could show my level of Project Management expertise. Plus it helped me get promotions and make more money!

Having a PMP is NOT something you need to have to manage online projects since they are quite different from corporate ones. That is why I decided to do a blog post focusing on Virtual Assistant Project Management that explains what an Online Business PM is, including:

  • What they do
  • How they’re different from corporate PMs
  • The types of projects they manage
  • The tools they need
  • And a few more must-know tips

The Difference Between VA, OBM + PM

One of the things that drives me crazy about the VA Industry is the lack of standard definitions. For example, so many people define a VA as someone who does administrative-type tasks for business owners. Fortunately, that’s not the whole story. VAs are NOT admin only. Let’s talk about the differences between:

  • Virtual Assistants (VA)
  • Online Business Managers (OBM)
  • Online Project Managers (OBPM)

Each one has a unique role that they play (also within Virtual Assistant Project Management), and at times, they may overlap with one another. To keep it simple:

  • Virtual Assistants: They complete tasks for their clients
  • Online Business Managers: They manage the day-to-day operations of their client’s business.
  • Online Project Managers: They manage online projects for their clients’ businesses.

Now, let me explain what I mean in a bit more detail. Keep in mind I know I’m generalizing a bit, but my goal is to keep it simple. These are also my definitions based on years of experience in project management and the VA Industry. Others may have a different idea or definition.

  • Most Virtual Assistants are focused on completing tasks for clients. The clients give them what needs to be done, and they do it.
  • Online business managers are primarily focused on managing a client’s business. They manage the business operations so their clients can do what they do best. They also earn more than typical Virtual Assistants.
  • Online project managers focus on helping their clients launch new products and programs or implement new technology and systems. They work based on projects and earn more than a VA and OBM.

Each one has a unique role they play for online business owners. The biggest difference is the skill set needed and the earning potential. OBMs and OBPMs usually make quite a bit more money than Virtual Assistants based on their expertise and what they do for clients.

The Difference Between Corporate + Online PM

Now that we’ve discussed how an Online Business PM is different than an OBM and a VA, let’s touch on how they’re different from a typical Corporate PM. The biggest differences are around

  • The need for a certification
  • Project standards and processes (PMO)

#1 – Certification

First off, a certification is NOT required to be an Online Business PM. You can certainly get one if it’s something you want, but it is not needed. Now, if you’re looking to work in a large business or corporation more often than not, you would need to have a certification such as a PMP.

#2 – Project Standards + Processes (PMO)

Most large businesses and corporations have what is known as a Project Management Office (PMO). A PMO is responsible for setting the standards and processes for how projects are managed within a business. For example, they would determine:

  • What PM methodology is followed
  • The tools and templates used to manage projects
  • How to report project status
  • Project metrics

And really, anything that has to do with how projects are managed and reported in the business. This is what I used to do in my previous life as a corporate IT PM: setting up PMOs for businesses.

Online Business PMs don’t have a PMO since it’s just them. But their clients will want to know how they do all the things a PMO does. What does this mean? It means that as an OBPM, you’ll need to come equipped with your own project systems and processes since the client is hiring you as the PM expert. You’ll need to define what tools you use, how you report status, what methodology you follow, etc. Without having your own “PMO” in place it makes it hard to charge premium rates.

Overview Of Online Project Types

What are the most common types of online projects clients need help with? They are:

  • Product Launches for books, memberships, courses…
  • Implementations of tech tools, systems + processes…

These projects make up the majority of online projects in the online business space and are the ones clients are actively looking for help with. Project management skills are a must, as is a solid understanding of Digital Marketing and how it works.

Project Phases

These are the project phases that are the focus of most online projects.

#1 – Strategy + Scope

Here is where you work with your client to create the overall project and scope.

#2 – Plan + Schedule

This is where we break down the scope into an action plan and schedule.

#3 – Kick-Off

Here is where we meet with the client and team to officially kick off the project.

#4 – Manage

This is where we manage the day-to-day project activities.

#5 – Test

Here is where we test everything to make sure it works.

#6 – Implement

This is where we implement the project deliverables.

#7 – Closure

Here is where we officially close the project.

Virtual Assistant Project Management Bonus Tip: PM Tools

Here’s a quick list of the must-have tools you need when managing online business projects.

  • Task management: Click Up, Teamwork
  • Communication: Zoom, Skype, Free conference bridge, Slack
  • Scheduling: Doodle, Acuity, 10to8
  • Brainstorming + Mind Mappin: Simple Mind, Ziteboard

Virtual Assistant Project Management Is A Great Way To Scale Your Biz

If you’re interested in learning more about Virtual Assistant Project Management aka how to move from being a VA to becoming an Online Business Project Manager please check out my free training. It’s on-demand, automated, and starts every 5 minutes. So you can watch it at your convenience.

Click here + watch the Free Masterclass ‘From VA To PM’

You can also have a look at my blog post, Ready To Scale Your Virtual Assistant Business? Here Are 9 Ways To Change Things Up in case you’re looking for more inspiration.


So, that’s it for now. Let me know if The Ultimate VA Success Guide: The Ins + Outs Of Virtual Assistant Project Management has inspired you to become an Online PM. Just leave a comment further below. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading – Susan

P.S. If you’re thinking about taking your VA business to the next level and love managing projects you should have a look at my Online Business Project Manager training. You’ll learn how to help your clients launch new products and programs, and much more.

Susan Mershon
My most popular VA resources

My Most Popular VA Resources

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  1. Sue

    If you are looking to become a OBPM then your availability should be during working hours right? I mean, you can’t work during the hours you want since you have to be in many meetings.

    • Susan Mershon

      Hey Sue, thanks for the comment and no; you can set the meetings based on your availability. I did my meetings in the mornings before work or at lunch. Also, there are not as many meetings as there are if you’re used to being a PM in a corporate setting.

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