Orchestrating Large Teams in Constantly Changing Environments

Managing large teams for complex digital transformation projects can be challenging. Learn how to overcome these challenges by setting up self-organised squads.

What does a Netcentric Project Delivery Manager do?

A Project Delivery Manager plans, employs and allocates project resources in the most efficient way, to deliver projects on time and within budget. We monitor the productivity of onsite and offsite teams, using reviewing systems and clear and accessible reporting tools. To ensure that all deliverables meet client needs, we calculate whether we have the resources to perform tasks to a high standard, and manage how we adapt if we need to scale up or down. Our role is to support delivery teams by allocating the right tools that enable them to deliver in a timely manner.

 

We assign the scope to our developers, and monitor performance based on metrics and KPIs. If a team reaches over-capacity, we make the necessary adjustments on scope. We maintain clear and accessible project tracking that includes reflective ticket statuses, assignees, fix versions and contracts.

Inverview with Frank Fernow

Where on the digital transformation path do you come in?

Project Delivery Managers oversee the whole process of shaping, implementing and fine-tuning projects in the solutions design and technology development phase. Following the specifications blueprint defined by our Requirements Engineers, we support and steer the Solutions Development and Quality Management teams to roll out and test releases in a timely manner and within budget.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced when delivering for a large-scale digital transformation project?

Delivering on large-scale and long-running digital transformation projects in a constantly changing environment can be challenging when you’re coordinating onsite and nearshore teams. With thousands of releases, repairs, adaptations and improvements to perform, it is critical to find the right way of organising teams. We need to support them to be agile whilst delivering the highest in quality, on time and within budget.

Coordinating large teams

Large teams are essentially harder to manage and can be rather inefficient especially when there are a volume of requirements to be completed.  If not organised properly, running large teams can mean time wasted on meetings irrelevant to some members, miscommunication and lack of focus. Having small responsible teams, trusted to do their job, results in a better focused and agile team, allowing them to deliver on time and to a high standard.

Scaling up or down teams

A critical challenge is the scaling up or down of teams for larger-scale projects. For instance, if more requirements need to be met than could be fulfilled by a current team, we need to adapt and scale up. Smaller, self-organised teams are more manageable and easier to scale up or down when needed. By designing a new delivery set-up, we are able to adapt to changing environments whilst continuing to be able to take care of the customer.

How do you ensure the smooth-running of projects?

We ensure the smooth running of large scale projects by setting up squads. Squads are subunits of the wider team. They are comprised of a limited number of developers: the backend, frontend, testing and quality. If we exceed that number of developers, we try to either create a new squad or redistribute developers across all squads. This allows us to scale easily, meaning if we need to add 10 more people, we simply add a new squad.

The idea behind squads is to create a team that is autonomous, motivated and accountable, a team that we can trust and assign work to knowing that they will complete it effectively. In this set up, self-organization is key. Each squad focuses on their assigned scope, has complete control over their deliverables and conducts quality gate checks within their unit. Quality gates mean that squad members look at your code and give either improvements or general feedback. Squad members let each other know if they’re missing something or if there are improvements to be made. This also ensures code quality and compliance with Netcentric’s coding standards.

 

By forming smaller self-organised units within a greater team, communication is improved, knowledge is shared and trust is built. With squads, we can quickly adapt to changes in specifications or requirements. For example, if a change is requested by a client (like a specification or requirement change), it is easy to communicate this to the squad, make them aware of the change and action it right away.

 

In these cases, squads even share their thoughts on the best path forward, resulting in an enriched experience for the client. It’s important to us that squads are given clear responsibilities and accountabilities over deliverables. I listen to the squad members and when they have improvements, I make sure we try them out since ultimately they are the ones who do the development work. They are the ones who really know what can be improved. If squad members are shy about coming forward, I try to empower them to share their opinions.

 

This agile way of working coupled with nearshore resources enable us to deliver new and changing requirements along the digital transformation path.

What’s the secret to your success?

We’ve been successful because agility and agile methodologies are embedded in the Netcentric culture and teams, allowing us to change and adapt to circumstances. When we were faced with the challenge of scaling up or down teams for a large-scale project, we quickly defined a solution that would compliment the way we do things at Netcentric.

We carefully formed the onsite and nearshore delivery structure in a way that helped us make incremental alterations whenever needed, and helped us to prepare for any changes ahead. Our agility and ability to adapt enables us to quickly deliver scalable, bespoke and future-proof solutions.

What do you love most about your job?

More than the job, what I like at Netcentric is the people and the culture. We have a great agile environment that lets us have fun whilst truly changing and adapting the way we work in order to deliver the best solution for our clients. I am surrounded by very talented people and have the opportunity to learn from them everyday.

Frank Fernow

Project Delivery Manager

Published on

Nov 24, 2017

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Data Management, Content Management, Developer Circle

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