The Challenges of Enterprise Project Management

There’s nothing like working as a project manager for a small company. The team gets to know each other very well and can anticipate each other’s needs before they are even uttered. There is a sense of loyalty and camaraderie that has been built up over years of long days, late nights, frustrating clients, and just the plain old sharing of each other’s lives.

But, unfortunately, there is nothing like working as a project manager in a small company when it comes to salary and a career path. Small companies just don’t have the deep pockets or opportunities that a larger firm can offer. That’s why you may find that after a few years of doing the exact same job for the exact same pay you’ll begin to realize that it’s time to move on to a larger company…and an entirely new experience as a project manager.

Welcome to Enterprise Project Management

Enterprise Project Management is the holistic view of how programs, projects, and even day-to-day operations support the overall mission, objectives, strategies, and goals of a company. This is a big departure from the big motivator you were used to at a small company…“let’s do this project because we get paid.”  Now, there are innumerable nuances and criteria around why and how projects get done in a corporate environment.

You’re not in Kansas anymore…and that’s OK. Enterprise Project Management opens the door for those things you were looking for in a small company such as a career path, more experience, and a higher salary.

There’s only so far that you can go in a small company when it comes to career and salary. You have to realize that at some point you’ll need to immerse yourself in a new environment to grow as a project manager. The following are some areas that can help you prepare as you make the shift from a small-company project manager to an Enterprise Project Manager.

More People Are Involved

You may have been familiar with a dozen or so people that worked on your last project in a smaller company. Now, you will find that there could be dozens, scores, or even hundreds of people that are involved in completing a project. Additionally, these people that are involved may be spread out in different buildings, cities, States, or even Countries.You’ll find that there are no set “working hours” as someone, somewhere is working due to different time zones as well as their own unique schedules.

The greater number of people involved opens the door for much larger accomplishments, but also could allow for greater mistakes and misunderstandings to arise. You’ll want to be on high-alert in the enterprise project management space to over communicate and be accessible throughout the lifecycle of the project to make sure things are going as expected.

More Approvals are Necessary

When you worked at the small company you could recommend a better way of doing something or a recommendation to take a different path and it was no problem to implement. You probably just talked to one of the resources on the project or the owner of the company, discussed why the change made sense, and then did it.Enterprise Project Management doesn’t flow quite as easily when it comes to making changes

There has been a tremendous amount of due diligence conducted on each project to make sure it fits into the overall corporate strategy and objectives. What may seem like a small change to you as a project manager may upset the entire apple cart? You will find that it is now necessary to run routine changes, regardless of how routine, by project sponsors, project review or governance boards, or other bastions of corporate governance

It may seem like an extra layer of unnecessary administration, but the intention is good. The purpose of these approval processes is to make sure that nothing deviates from the intended mission and purpose of each project and how it fits into the overall corporate strategy.

More Politics Surround Projects

The politics in a small company many times never went beyond where everybody was going to go for lunch. There may have been some intrigue from time to time as Mexican food trumped Chinese, but it never really went much further than that in a small company.It’s very different in a corporate environment where enterprise project management is conducted. You are now dealing with massive amounts of money, people’s reputations, and careers, as well as egos and bravado that are many times the by-product of very successful people whose attitudes go unchecked.

You may find yourself in the middle of a turf war where one VP is looking to overtake some of the responsibility of another VP in the organization. You want nothing to do with this spat, but you are smack dab in the middle of it because the project you are managing supports the hidden agenda of one of the VPs. Yikes.

Activities Can Take Longer

Be prepared for everything to take at least twice as long as it did when you were the project manager in a small company. It’s an interesting phenomenon that occurs in larger companies that the amount of time necessary to get something done will expand to the amount of time that is available to get that particular thing done.You will probably find that there are people in various departments in the company that you have no idea what they do! They may have been on the payroll for years, show up at all the important meetings, say all the right corporate buzzwords, but then never produce one piece of a tangible deliverable for as long as you’ve known them.

The other very real thing that occurs within a larger company is the incessant interruptions and reprioritizations of what is important that occurs on a daily basis. Both activities will wreak havoc on a project schedule and quickly put a project behind the eight-ball. Be aware of this reality in enterprise project management and stay on top of your deliverables on a regular basis to make sure they remain on track.

There’s More Scrutiny

There’s a whole bunch more people to analyze, critique, offer suggestions, or even sabotage the enterprise project management work you are doing in a large company.When you move up to the major leagues there is less room for mistakes to be made. People watch for errors very closely and you will find they are less forgiving and the consequences could be sizable.

Does this mean that you need to be constantly concerned about making a mistake? Not at all. Mistakes are how people grow. However, you need to be very mindful to not make the same mistake multiple times. There are a lot of people watching that you may not have a direct relationship with who can determine the future of your enterprise project management career.

Enterprise project management is an entirely different way of managing projects than what you may have been familiar with at a smaller company. Bigger budgets, more people, longer durations, and bigger results make it all very exciting. Keep the above five points in mind as you transition to this larger role and you’ll soon find yourself navigating the corporate scene with the best of them!

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