I’ve now been working at Drew for just under two months. After half a decade of being a digital project manager, I’ve been transitioning into the slightly different role of a delivery manager.

To be honest, before applying for the job at Drew, I wasn’t 100% sure how a delivery manager was different from say a scrum master, head of production or a project manager but I knew I could do the job.

My basic understanding was that I would be taking overall responsibility for the delivery of projects, people, process, tools and working practices for the whole team. Turns out I wasn’t too far off

Quite simply, a Delivery Manager is responsible for the delivery of projects and products, particularly using Agile methods

Drew is a small team, agile by nature and self-organising. The team work on print, branding and digital and are often all working on different projects on any given day. Their process is a lot more lightweight than I’m used to. However, what I found was far from chaos. The team were communicating well, delivering on time and Drew’s clients were happy. Living proof that it’s more important to be agile than ‘do’ agile.

I could see where things were missing but I didn’t want to start implementing things which didn’t make sense for the team or the projects. We’re not working on complex software development here, we’re building marketing and brochure sites using WordPress. I’ve never been one to add process for process sake.

The worst thing you can do is show up at your new job and just implement what worked at your last gig. Learn and iterate!

With that in mind. I decided to look to my team to define exactly what a delivery manager at Drew looks like.

I was fascinated by what I found. This session was based on this retro mat activity ‘Build your own scrum master’.

I started by asking the team to silently brainstorm what a perfect delivery manager looks like.

There were some common themes:

  • All projects should come through the delivery manager
  • The DM should ensure that all new work has a good brief before the team is briefed
  • The DM is responsible for scheduling and timekeeping
  • Focus on continuous improvement i.e. run regular retrospectives
  • Ensure work gets invoiced
  • Acts as a client buffer but supports the team and client equally
  • Helps us plan ahead – see what’s coming up in the distance
  • Helps us win more work
  • Collates and assigns tasks
  • Protects the studio from scope creep

The team also noted the characteristics they’d like to see in the perfect delivery manager, open, happy and calm all came up more than once.

Lastly, I asked the team what they think I should know about them in order to get the best out of them. There was an interesting mix of personal and team insights.

I found out things about people which may have taken a much longer time to come to realise e.g. a member of the team being colour blind, another who finds early morning conversations and too much noise stressful, I found out whilst one developer likes to work on multiple projects at a time, the other prefers to work in blocks. One developer likes to design as well as develop, one likes client meetings whilst the other one would prefer to not be client facing.

I learnt a lot about them as individuals but I also heard things which I could affect i.e.

  • The team expressed that they really like knowing if we’re doing well, both at an individual level and company level
  • They enjoy stand ups
  • They don’t like last minute meetings or too many meetings in a day. They also like meetings to be booked in between 10-4pm. All useful stuff to know as a Delivery Manager!

My final question focused on ways the team felt like they could help me in my role.

In asking this question I found out the Creative Director enjoys process improvement and planning ahead, we have therefore already started to think about how we can implement product owner training, long term planning for the studio and SLA’s. I also received offers for support with QA, help proof-reading blog posts and Freeagent support.

Starting a new job can feel daunting but I left this meeting feeling like I had a clearer idea about the team’s expectations for this role. It also helped me to get to know individuals quicker and find allies and support as I start to push forward with making some improvements.

This week I introduced myself to a client as a Delivery Manager, once I explained what I did, they said, “Is that basically project management?”. I replied, yes because at the end of the day it’s just a job title, it’s all about getting stuff delivered. I’ll look to the team to know if I’m doing the job I was employed to do.

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