The job position sounded perfect for you. It was as if they had taken your resume and gone down line by line when they put the job description together. It included responsibilities such as manage project development from initiation to closure, provide a project schedule to identify when each task will be performed, clearly communicate expectations and status to team members and stakeholders, monitor and mitigate risks and resolve issues. You had done all these and then some. This job was perfect for you!
Then you came upon the line item that made you pause…big company experience required. Hmmm, big company experience. You wondered what they meant by “big company”. You had worked with companies that had a couple of hundred people in one location and you thought that was pretty big. You decided to submit your resume and interview for the job.
Well, on the interview you found out what the company felt was “big company experience”. They were talking about companies that were on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. These were companies that had thousands, if not tens of thousands of employees and were spread throughout national and global locations.
“Yeah, but I worked with a company that had over 200 people working in 3 different locations across 3 states”, you feebly mutter. “I’m sure it couldn’t be that different moving into enterprise project management”. Unfortunately, the company felt as if it was that different and decided to pass on your application this time around.
This caused you to wonder more about enterprise project management. Was it really so different from managing projects at a small company? What was the secret to enterprise project management success? What are some things you could do once you find yourself in the enviable position of managing a mega Fortune 500 customer?
Here’s 4 steps you can use when you are navigating the swirling waters of enterprise project management:
1. Don’t be Intimidated
It’s easy to become intimidated whenever you move into the arena of enterprise project management and start working with larger companies. There are some things that could be a bit overwhelming…For example, just the whole process of getting to meet with your project sponsor. You don’t pull into their parking lot, park your car, walk into the office and ask for whoever you are meeting with (who quickly pops into the lobby to bring you to his office around the corner like you do a small company).No, rather you pull into their “campus”, circle around an overcrowded parking deck or parking lot in search of a space and then walk a mile or so to the entrance. You then enter into a cavernous lobby with larger than life posters spewing thecorporate propaganda and marketing campaign for the current fiscal year.
You need to check in at the security desk for a retina and bio-metric scan (OK, maybe that’s pushing it), but they do want your license and signature as well as who you are seeing and the time you entered. Then, you sit and wait in the massive lobby for your benefactor to pick you up.
You stare across the expanse at the other poor blokes who are going through dry-runs of their presentations, going through last minute calculations, and sweating profusely. The Wizard of Oz doors open and a friendly face emerges. You’re in! You make it to the elevators and take the 10 minute walk to their office. Intimidating? Initially, yes. But, what you will quickly find when it comes to enterprise project management, is that even the largest companies are just as disjointed, disconnected, and reliant upon patches, workarounds and e-mailed spreadsheets as smaller companies.
Once you realize this fact and that you are not working with the entire company of 10,000 people but rather a small group of about 50 people your blood pressure will quickly get back to normal. You can now focus on the task at hand and get to work on the project you have been sent there to implement.
2.Transition from Vendor to Vendor Partner
“Partner” is a word that is used WAY too much these days to describe the relationship that companies have with each other. A partnership doesn’t exist if one party is paying the other party to do work on their behalf. A vendor/purchaser relationship exists. However, there are two levels of this vendor relationship that exist:
- Vendor:The first is a straight-up vendor. This is somebody that comes in and does a job and then leaves. There is little camaraderie between the teams and the vendor is kept at arm’s length from the organization.Plus, watch out if something goes wrong on the project. Each party will do what they can to protect their own self-interest rather than open up to each other that there is a problem that may best be resolved in a joint manner.This is not the ideal relationship to have in an enterprise project management situation but it is also one of the more common relationships that exist.
- Vendor-Partner:The second level is that of a vendor-partner. This is when both teams get a kick out of working with each other.One team needs what the other team has to offer and appreciates what the vendor-partner brings to the table. The vendor-partner feels this “vibe” and will go above and beyond to deliver exceptional work.What if there’s a problem? No secrets to hide in this relationship. Either side will admit if they messed up and work collaboratively to get things back on track.
Most relationships will start at the vendor level. The faster you transition to vendor-partner the more successful you will be at enterprise project management.
3. Become Part of Their Team
Find your niche and function within the relationship between your two companies. Specialize in one area and do it extremely well. For example, the other team may sorely lack organization. You specialize in being organized. Freely provide your organizational services to the team.In no time at all, you’ll hear “we can’t start this meeting yet because [insert your name] isn’t here. Let’s find him and then we can get started”. That’s a great place to be when the team from the large company needs you to be there before they can begin.
4. Lead Their Team
Now that you are no longer intimidated by such a large company, are considered a vendor-partner and have become part of their team, the next logical step is to lead their team as it relates to the project you are implementing between the two companies.Sure, you are always going to be managing your company’s piece of the enterprise project management puzzle, but we are talking about managing their team as well. Once you have established such a high level of trust you will find yourself being able to give direction to their team members directly, in order to finish the project.
Do you want to transition from a vendor to a vendor-partner? Try ProjectManager.com free for 30 days and see what a difference this project management software can make. Collaboration is the name of the game when it comes to working with large companies. ProjectManager.com allows you to discuss what’s important using online forums, create new discussions, and add documents, spreadsheets, images and videos to keep your expanded enterprise team involved.
Haven’t had the opportunity to work with a big company yet? In many ways it’s very similar to working with smaller companies. In many ways it’s entirely different. You can apply the steps outlined above in smaller company settings to give you the practice you need to work in an enterprise project management space. By the way, be sure to take advantage of the Campus Gym…they offer great rates to vendor-partners!