Who are virtual assistants and how do they work? Interview with Pola Sobczyk, the owner of BrandAssist

project management virtual assistants

Project management virtual assistants are highly skilled professionals who can help you plan, track time, organize, and execute even the most complex projects. From researching and scheduling or resolving team conflict to budgeting and communication, a project management virtual assistant can take on any task management that you need help with. And because they work remotely, you don’t have to worry about them taking up valuable office space. With a project management virtual assistant on your team, you’ll be able to focus on what’s important and get the job done right.

Virtual Assistants are a relatively new service on the market which, however, is becoming more and more popular every week. One of our clients is the company BrandAssist, which brings together virtual assistants. We had a very interesting interview with Pola Sobczyk, who started a company from scratch and placed the new service on the market. What does it all look like backstage? Find out! Maybe you too will use a virtual assistant someday.

Who is a project management virtual assistant?

A year ago, I would have said that a virtual assistant is a person who works remotely as a sole proprietor and her task base is primarily administration, customer service, or specialization, which she has pursued so far. But today, a virtual assistant is slowly becoming established as a project manager or task coordinator, sometimes even a coach. It is certainly a person who can perform different tasks.

Where did you get the idea to create a company that would associate virtual assistants?

I admit that this resulted from my observations of the needs of my closest friends who had companies and a more and more difficult employee market. Unfortunately, most of my friends could not afford to hire an employee, especially at the beginning, due to the ever-increasing taxes and financial requirements of the candidates. Hence, trainees were employed who usually not only did not develop the brand but also wasted time.

Another solution was to employ people on contracts who, after a few months, moved to larger companies and corporations. In this situation, the cycle of implementing the next person becomes looped. My friends complained about the high financial expectations and low competence of their employees and also about the too-high cost of keeping them in the office.

On the other hand, I noticed that I tended to work more effectively at home. I also worked for a few different companies at once, not only for the one for which I was employed. This is how my adventure started. At the time, I was convinced that I had discovered something completely new.

Do you remember the beginning of BrandAssist? How did you manage to enter the market and convince the clients?

This was a hard time. A lot of mistakes, lack of humility and this juvenile pride of the type “nobody knows what is good” are behind us. We entered the market thanks to overcoming the notion that others are wrong. It happened exactly when I started to understand what problems are solved by a virtual assistant.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the service in comparison to a traditional assistant?

I dislike comparing the virtual assistant to a live person in the office. I am not against employment under contracts of employment. Thus, I also recommend hiring stationary employees. Such a person is always available when in the office, and many entrepreneurs feel better when they have “control” over what a given person is doing.

The basic advantage of the virtual assistant is the cost. She issues VAT invoices, so no contracts are necessary. People who work remotely are now more creative and better trained. Nay! They train themselves because they have to improve their competence to keep getting new clients.

When I was an employee, I liked training but with the thought of leaving the company someday. Moreover, every person who works this way will notice that their work becomes more planned and organized. After all, delegating tasks is also a form of organizing working time. Such an approach increases productivity. In the office, there is usually no motivation.

You mentioned that the work of project management virtual assistants has to be planned and organized. Given that such an assistant probably works with several clients and has a lot of tasks to do, how do you deal with the organization of work?

You know, I still use paper and pen, but at the current stage, I would not be able to manage without proper software, especially one for project management and cooperation with my clients. We are currently working on the IC Project and Trello in BrandAssist.

Earlier, I tested a lot and looked for a proper solution. I worked on such software as Podio, Jira, Asana, Nozbe, and Basecamp, so it took me some time to find the best ones. I think that you can obviously stop using such programs and still work on e-mail messages, but this would very much slow down the implementation of tasks and would cause a huge mess in the work organization.

In the labyrinth of systems, you mentioned the IC Project, for instance. How did this tool improve work in your company?

This system primarily improved the coordination of tasks for our clients. A simple CRM, efficient support in Polish, ease of checking different reports, or the Kanban method to manage tasks (I am a huge fan of this method of work!). We also improved communication within specific tasks. We still use Slack (a program for internal communication in the team), but the inbuilt communicator in ICP and the ability to add comments made our work much faster, and – most importantly – it minimized the risk of making a mistake during cooperation with the client.

Which virtual assistant service stands out on the market the most?

I think that it is multitasking. You can find a virtual assistant who is more versatile than a several-person team, and you can also find an assistant who is specialized in a given field. Apart from that, entrepreneurs are not interested in holidays or annual leaves. Such people are very loyal to their clients. I can safely say that we have created a community (of women mainly) that works 200% and likes their job.

How many project management virtual assistants does BrandAssist associate with and what is their workload?

Currently, we have a ten-person team. Soon there will be twelve of us. To answer your question honestly, we need to separate an individual virtual assistant from the agency. Such an individual mostly aims to work full-time. For agencies, this depends. We cooperate with girls who are available from 8:00 to 18:00, but I do not check every hour whether they look at the computer screen or not. The work effects can also be seen in the deadlines, and BrandAssist is doing very well in this.

Finally, a forward-looking question. Are virtual assistants a service that will dominate the market in the next few years, in your opinion?

I am convinced that this is already happening. Continuous cost optimization of the company will be the foundation for remaining in the market, and project management virtual assistants simply entail a lot of savings.

Virtual assistants and project bottlenecks

Virtual assistants are an invaluable resource for any project manager struggling with bottlenecks. By hiring a virtual assistant to handle some of the tasks on your project timeline, you can free up your own time to focus on resolving the bottleneck. virtual assistants are also a great way to boost your team’s productivity and keep your project on track. So if you’re looking for a way to overcome project management bottlenecks, project management virtual assistants are worth considering.

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