Value-Added Services: What Delivery Managers Bring

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With over 25 years of industry expertise and 15 years of project management experience, I am well-versed in managing projects, programs, portfolios, and even entire PMOs. When I joined FullStack Labs as a Project Manager, I worked according to the extensive Playbook, under the guidance of Mike Piccolo, CTO. As the company grew and shifted towards a heavier reliance on near-shore resources, the role of the Project Manager evolved, necessitating significant changes to the distribution of the Playbook across different roles. Many of the advanced technical, financial, and business functions I previously handled as a Project Manager were no longer required in that role. Consequently, the Delivery Manager role emerged as the need for project manager "managers" became apparent.

When I moved into the Delivery Manager role, my manager changed to Ben Carle, CIO. I found a lot of synergy between the industry-standard project, program, and portfolio management; customer success; and pre-sales roles. For instance: as Delivery Managers, we draft proposals, estimates, and Requests for Proposal (RFPs) to land new business and finalize Statements of Work (SOWs). We also establish strategic partnerships with our clients to help them achieve their business goals and vision, maintain staffing levels as business needs and team dynamics change (e.g., matching, performance evaluations, improvement plans, roll-offs), and serve as an escalation point for project team members, Project Managers, and clients. We closely monitor budget thresholds and project/account burn rates and assist with billing and invoice concerns.

For some accounts, we even perform time entry in their time-keeping systems to ensure alignment. In addition, Delivery Managers review weekly status reports, burndown charts, and roadmaps provided by Project Managers and provide coaching and direction to both Project Managers and team members. But that’s not all: I clone repositories and set up local environments to build and run applications on physical devices, holistically evaluating them at the component, screen, feature, application, and bigger-picture business goals levels. Strategic partnership often requires becoming familiar with, and often-times a subject matter expert within, the client’s entire business model and industry. At FullStack Labs, we support a wide variety of technologies and clients across many industry verticals, including healthcare, education, logistics, and construction. I enjoy being assigned to around 15 accounts across many more than just those industries (e.g., state and local government, manufacturing and distribution, artificial intelligence, non-profit, business, and regulatory services), so my days are varied and very interesting.

The Delivery Manager’s dynamic at FullStack Labs

You’re probably wondering what all of this means by way of day-to-day activities. Well, it varies (yay!). Part of the Delivery Manager role is being able to juggle and manage many priorities simultaneously. At FullStack Labs, we track our time spent on accounts by using an application called Toggl. Think of it like a stopwatch with descriptions eventually becoming line items on monthly client invoices. For instance, at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday, there are already 31 entries; this week’s count is 141; a month’s worth is 538 — that’s a lot of context switching! I like being busy and involved in many things at once, so this role is perfect for me! I really enjoy that no two days are the same.

On Monday, I attended a few standups (Project and Delivery Managers), reviewed weekly status summaries submitted by the Project Managers assigned to projects for my accounts, participated in a client meeting to discuss the business problems they would like us to help them solve, and drafted a proposal in collaboration with solution architects based upon that meeting. I also helped adjust an estimate previously generated for a different client. I performed weekly budget checks across my accounts and their corresponding projects, reaching out to Project Managers as needed. Given it was early in the month, I had several recurring monthly touch-points with several clients to discuss overall happiness, account and team performance, vision, changing priorities, and staffing needs. I assisted a developer on one account with advanced report development and complex data analyses they were needing to perform. It's worth noting that, due to my extensive technical background, I wear many technical hats not typically worn by other Delivery Managers.

Tuesday: I again attended several standup meetings, another client discovery call, a weekly meeting with Customer Success Managers to discuss account staffing needs (ongoing and new), and finalized the draft proposal from Monday. I also did some development work on a complex Delivery Manager dashboard to bring all aspects we need to track into a single source and a consolidated heatmap view for leadership. I worked on a method for data to be obtained automatically from Toggl’s API endpoints to minimize administrative overhead. I also reviewed several project boards and backlogs in Jira along with using a custom Bash shell script I previously developed to summarize both. This uncovered the need for a few Project Managers to perform some epic closures and a few other follow-up items. As items like this are uncovered, I perform coaching and provide direction along with justification so a deeper understanding can be achieved, and I wrapped the day up by assisting another developer to overcome the challenges he was facing.

Wednesday: standups, attended a sprint demo and provided feedback to the Project Manager, checked in with the developer I assisted Tuesday, and held several more monthly touch-point meetings with clients. I followed up with coordination with the accounts’ Customer Success Managers to address staffing needs and draft specific job descriptions and skill-set requirements for each position. I received a few candidates from the hiring pipeline for another of my clients and evaluated them against the client’s needs and preferences, selecting only one or two candidates to present to the client. The candidate profiles were presented and rates were discussed along with timing, and any other additional needs. I met with a Project Manager to discuss challenges and began the drafting of a proposal for sharing with the client this week. I sent the proposal finalized on Tuesday and followed up on proposals sent the prior week. I reviewed the Apple Store and Android’s Google Play to evaluate application performance and a recent application’s release, then coordinated a follow-up with the Project Manager. Recommendations were also provided for an upcoming contract renewal one of our clients was having with their testing vendor and finished the day with a client meeting to finalize the agenda for their Atlassian (Jira/Confluence) steering committee.

Thursday: I reviewed the standup templates for several accounts and provided feedback to the PM for sharing with team members. I participated in a retrospective and backlog grooming meeting, the client’s Atlassian steering committee, and standups (as usual). I met with a developer working directly for a client’s project delivery team who wanted to transition to a different project, identified his concerns, and developed an action plan to address those needs so a transition was no longer needed. I assisted our client with framing a very complicated and political narrative for their client and helped a developer build a very complex dashboard and component reports. I met with 2 project managers to provide feedback and brainstorm on potential improvements. I also built a project’s React Native application from the repository and tested it on my physical devices, providing feedback to the Project Manager on bugs and potential enhancements. I requested a few financial reports from the Operations team and used them to check a few newly-assigned accounts and concluded the day participating in a client-facing status and strategy meeting.

Friday was largely similar to the previous days of the week (standups, client calls, proposal drafting), except for a thorough review of the team and customer satisfaction scores. There were a few follow-up actions after reviewing the scores, which I worked with Project Managers, Customer Success Managers, and Clients to address. Two resources were rolling off of projects that needed backfills, so I started that process. My fellow Delivery Managers and I updated the statuses for each of our assigned accounts, summarizing for leadership what was happening with each.

If you reached this point, you have probably noticed that a Delivery Manager brings a lot of value to an account. We are strategic partners, facilitators, coordinators, troubleshooters, accountants, resource managers, coaches, and pre-sales gurus. Our work days are very different depending on the industry, regulatory, client, account, and team needs we are working with. If this sounds like something you would like to do, please check out our job offerings, here. If this is something you feel you may need, please contact us here. We look forward to working with you!

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