LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions (LNES) began its Agile (Agile is a time boxed, iterative approach to software delivery that builds software incrementally from the start of the project, instead of trying to deliver it all at once near the end) transformation back in 2015 when we first started developing the cloud-based version of LexisOne. It wasn’t until October 2017 that the role of Agile Delivery Manager (ADM) was introduced. My initial opinion when I first heard this role discussed was "why do we need Delivery Managers if we are Agile?", and it made me reflect upon the journey the company had taken over the last 2½ years.
In June 2017 we had just successfully delivered our first cloud-based LexisOne go-live project - on time and within budget. To do this we had introduced multi-discipline teams (Stream Teams), each responsible for delivering their own key business processes. Implementing Agile practices really helped us get to that point, but we were working to tight timescales and although we were working efficiently and effectively, I don’t believe we had a sustainable delivery plan. By the end of the implementation project many of the team members were exhausted – so it was time to pause and devise a strategy that would enable us to become a delivery engine that could scale to meet the demand that was building up for LexisOne in the market. The approach has proven to be invaluable.
Nurturing High Performance
Within the LexisOne engineering department, I am one of two ADMs working very closely with the Stream Teams. We are not solely focussed on delivery, but also on the practices that exist within those teams. This privileged position gives me an opportunity to have a bird’s eye view on what is working and what is not; and having built up some really good relationships with the teams, I can work through these to find the best outcomes for both the individuals and the business.
For me, getting the most out of a team is fundamental to the role. In fact, it’s more than that. Getting the individuals to want to get the most out of their team is key! High performing teams simply do not exist without high performing individuals. Everyone is different and understanding what motivates and makes an individual want to perform is an essential part of the role.
Extending the Winning Formula to Client Collaboration
As well as working with the internal teams the ADMs have a close engagement with clients. Being able to have an open honest conversation with clients cannot be underestimated. We liaise with our clients on a daily basis, collaboratively working to create plans that align with clients’ requirements, as well as satisfying our internal stakeholders.
The formal side of the relationships is governed by weekly delivery meetings, and central working groups. All individuals attending these meetings are asked to be accountable representatives, and again, working collaboratively helps deliver the right results.
Striking the right balance between effective project management and Agile delivery is not easy and is recognised as a key challenge within the delivery function. Remembering the LNES five core values of #trust #together #open #thirst #fun helps me keep focussed on the aim of this role – i.e. delivering value to internal and external stakeholders.