Making the leap
How to handle the challenges of moving to a large organization.
By Amr Sadek, PMP
or an experienced one, moving from a small organization to a large one is challenging. It's not just that the company is bigger. It can also mean more layers of management, more dependencies and more complex processes.
Below are four of the hurdles you might face, along with suggested solutions.
A DIVERSE MULTITUDE OF STAKEHOLDERS
In big organizations, you will usually need to work with stakeholders other than your direct team members. These stakeholders—such as R&D, marketing, sales, operations and support—may not all be housed in the same location, and they often don't share the same priorities.
You should use the stakeholder register and build a dedicated communication plan with different communication tools and techniques for different stakeholders. Two-way communication is a must—this is no place for the classic status email that sits unread in an inbox.
The steering committee is another helpful tool found at some larger organizations. This committee allows you to bring management and project sponsors together to provide status updates and more easily receive the support needed to carry out the project.
Because of big firms’ complex organizational structure, the communication of goals from the top of the hierarchy to the bottom is not always clear. This can cause project team members to question the reason and the value of what they're doing.
As a project manager, you must ask the right questions of management and the sponsors to understand the goals of the project. Communicating to your team how its project aligns to the organization's strategic goals will drive greater engagement and motivation for the team.
Startups may be known for chasing big ideas, but big organizations do business in innovative ways. New delivery model ideas such as software as a service, cloud computing, platform as a service, infrastructure as a service, IT management as a service and others require up-to-date awareness of new standards and knowledge.
In addition, some large organizations employ revenue-sharing models with customers, where the two entities share the profits and losses. In these cases, you must adjust to a new goal that goes far beyond successful delivery of an agreed scope. You must ensure that the project will lead to more revenue for both your organization and the customer.
This requires a business mentality in addition to a project management mentality. It's essential that you understand the business case that the revenue-sharing model was built on. You also need to work closely with marketing teams, both in the organization and on the customer side, to better understand how the project is going to materialize in the customer program.
Normally in this model, the project manager is more relaxed on cost and scope control than in other projects, since the main focus is on building a platform that will bring future revenues. In these cases, adding to the scope or budget can often be justified if it would support the business case.
PROCESS AND MORE PROCESS
Heavy amounts of process could be one of the biggest sources of culture shock when joining a large organization. At first glance, these heavy processes might seem like a waste of time, but that's only the case if they're not used properly.
While a good project manager will spend time trying to learn all about the new company processes and follow them, a great one will start first by asking the right questions to quality and business efficiency teams. Your aim should be to understand the reasoning behind every process and what value it brings to the project. After a couple of successful deliverables, you might even be able to bring value by fine-tuning a process, depending on the project needs. PM
Amr Sadek, PMP, is a delivery manager for Africa and the Middle East at Gemalto, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
JUNE 2015 PM NETWORK
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