Five Key Skills for Enterprise Project Managers

The words “project management” typically inspire visions of overseeing a single project from beginning to end. You’re there to lead the charge as that project moves from inception to reality.

It’s true — that’s really the core of project management. However, enterprise project management is a whole different beast. 

What exactly is enterprise project management? Well, think of it as the big leagues, because it requires managing projects on a company-wide scale (rather than for a specific team or department). 

Enterprise project managers spearhead and organize a number of different projects across the company that might seem unrelated at first glance. But, in reality, all of those projects support a larger business objective.

What are enterprise project management skills?

If you think that sounds like a big job, you’re right. People who fill these roles need to be able to oversee many moving parts, and that means they need to possess many of the most important project management skills to successfully deliver project value.

While these skills are important, they aren’t exactly common. One survey found that poorly trained project managers were the single biggest project management challenge facing organizations.

Curious about what it takes to be a top-notch enterprise project manager (so you can avoid being part of that statistic)? Let’s dig into some of the most critical skills, as well as how you can hone them.

1. Analysis

Project managers who thrive in an enterprise environment have highly analytical minds and strong critical thinking skills. 

When there are so many potential avenues and initiatives to explore, they’re able to look at the facts and identify and prioritize which projects support the broader business goals — and, as a result, which ones are worthy of the time and budget.

Enterprise project managers face enormous pressure to deliver real value. So, they need to have the capability to set measurable targets and evaluate projects against those metrics to ensure that they’re maximizing their resources in the best possible way.

In short, enterprises aren’t similar to startup environments where you can try a bunch of things and see what sticks. Project managers are tasked with using their analytical skills to make highly-informed and ultimately profitable decisions. 

2. Communication

A huge chunk of an enterprise project manager’s day is spent communicating. They correspond with teams across the organization, with leadership, with project stakeholders, and with clients. 

Needless to say, they need to be effective communicators who can clearly explain things like timelines, objectives, deliverables, budgets, and more in language that translates to numerous different audiences.

Research conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) concluded that ineffective communication was the main contributor to project failure one-third of the time and had a negative impact on project success more than half the time, so this skill is non-negotiable for project managers. 

3. Organization

Whether they have a corner office or not, project managers are in a position of leadership. They’re the ones tasked with keeping everything and everybody on track, and that requires a huge commitment to organization, particularly when managing projects in an enterprise.

That’s because enterprise project managers face a unique challenge. They need to stay in the loop about all of the intricacies of individual projects, while maintaining a much broader business perspective about how all of those different projects support the larger goals of the organization.

That’s a lot to keep straight, and somebody who lacks organizational skills will struggle to keep their head above water in such a complex and high-pressure work environment. 

4. Relationship Management

Enterprise project managers don’t just work with one specific project team — they work with people across the organization, as well as clients and other project stakeholders. That’s why relationship management skills and client management skills are so important.

When project managers need to oversee details like milestones and dependencies, it’s easy to get so into the weeds that they forget about the people actually putting in the work.

However, skilled enterprise project managers understand the value of relationships. As PMI states, stakeholders’ expectations and perceptions are directly influenced by the relationships they share with the project manager.

During Google’s “Project Oxygen” experiment, the company did comprehensive research to identify the traits of the most effective managers. Interestingly enough, a good chunk of the traits identified pointed back to the value of relationships — including being a good coach, supporting development, and empowering team members. 

5. Foresight

The very best project managers seem like they have a crystal ball stashed away in their desk drawers. They’re so forward thinking that they’re able to anticipate project risks, map out appropriate budgets, estimate adequate timelines, and more.

But, their ability to accomplish these things doesn’t actually come from any sort of witchcraft or magic.

They treat every project as a learning opportunity and use every piece of information (both the good and the bad) to inform their future project decisions. So, they’re not necessarily predicting the future — they’re just really good at learning from the past. 

Project manager tips: How to develop your enterprise project management skills

There’s a lot that goes into being a successful enterprise project manager. Check out these quick tips to start flexing your own project management muscles in these key areas. 

1. Ask for feedback

It’s tough to improve if you don’t understand where you’re starting from. Ask your project team members for some feedback (the best leaders do this) about past projects — and, specifically, your role in managing them. 

What did you do well? What could’ve gone better? You’ll get past your blind spots and get a grasp on your strengths and weaknesses. That’s valuable information as you move forward. 

2. Pick one focus area to start

Wanting to hone your skills is admirable, but trying to tackle everything at once can be overwhelming. Instead, use the feedback you received from the previous step to choose one skill to focus on first.

Take strides to improve in that area — whether it’s gathering more knowledge and resources or trying new approaches. Once you feel like you’ve bumped up that skill, pick another one. This will make the development process far more manageable. 

3. Use an enterprise project management system

Even the best project managers need help and many understand the value of having the right tools on their side.

Finding the right enterprise project management system (like Wrike) will go a long way in helping you nail all of the above skills. From streamlining communication to ensuring consistent organization across projects, you’ll immediately see significant improvements, without needing to invest a ton of elbow grease.

Get started on honing the most important project management skills

A career as an enterprise project manager is no easy gig. You not only need to keep projects running smoothly, but you also need to be able to zoom out and ensure teams are working to achieve the organization’s broader business goals.

While it isn’t a walk in the park, it’s certainly doable — especially if you’re committed to doing what it takes to learn, improve, and succeed.

Ready to get started? We thought so. Sign up for a free trial of Wrike and get one step closer to achieving success with your enterprise team. 

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