Our brilliant Hannah Wilkinson, Razor's Delivery Lead on why her role in technology is more important now than ever before.
Most people out there - tech-inclined or not - know what a software developer is. Those with slightly more awareness could probably tell you what a product owner is responsible for and could even come across a definition for SCRUM master, but I rarely come across anyone who can tell me exactly what I do. Most can hazard a guess. Delivery sounds pretty straightforward, so they naturally assume I deliver in some way. Which I can’t argue with, but in reality, it’s so much more. In the organisation I work for, I am the glue - the network - between our development team, our client and our stakeholders. It’s my job to make sure each party is informed, motivated and even, inspired.
I’ve often downplayed my role as nosy or bossy because in some ways it felt like that. On project, I am in everyone’s business. CC’ed into every single email no matter the subject; to do my job well I need full visibility. But living in this post-world which we do now, I’ve revisited that feeling. No more of that talk, with teams working at a distance and with communication stretched, we need the glue more than ever now. Delivery Leads, assemble!
What I do for my team...
I often think the way you view your team in this role is a paradox. On the one hand, your mindset is geared to the overall success of the project, but as individuals you need these important brains to thrive as people. We use methodologies like Kanban and SCRUM but these frameworks are simply immobile if the team aren’t onside. There aren’t any magic wands. At the beginning of the project, you might ask yourself some questions: Is anyone demotivated? Do some team members need extra support? Does anyone prefer to work autonomously? Is there a new team member who needs coaching through processes or tools?
In answering these questions and adapting your approach, you are making sure your team feels motivated, valued and integral to the success of the project. In a situation when each of these people is working from their dining room table or home office it is even more crucial to show up and check-in.
Building these relationships is pivotal. The people in your team will be better connected to the reality of the project and it gives them a safe space to float experimental ideas and to try new things. Not only does this mean happier and safer colleagues, but for the client, it means powerful innovation and a project delivered on schedule.
What I do for my clients...
A champion of people from start to finish, the Delivery Lead is all about the client. Just as you may ask questions of your team in the beginning, you also build battle-proof relationships with your client-side team.
You might ask: What are the motivations for the project? What are the challenges past/present/future obstructing the project? What’s the absolute end-goal? You go further than asking questions, you’re with them every step of the way. Bump in the road, you feel it. Lost in a maze, you navigate back to base together. Global pandemic hits, you recentre, observe and plan - not for - but alongside the organisation you’re working with. Sometimes what a client wants isn’t what they need, in those times you approach with kindness. You think about their livelihood and their dream for this project - maybe they’re trying to help people.
You rail back to the questions you started with and lead with empathy. In this sense, the Delivery Lead forms the heart of the project for the client and the team; one of the reasons why I love my job.
Why am I writing this…
In our organisation, we have a Women at Razor group (yes, yes - WAR) and although in its infancy the group, is there to help us explore our experiences, the challenges we may face and how to overcome them.
We talk about getting more women into STEM and how we make sure people know about the work women in our business are doing at all levels – not something a lot of technology companies can boast. Maybe you’re a Delivery Lead and you’ve thought yourself bossy or nosy or any of those things. I’m writing this because you shouldn’t - in any role. Sceptics will tell you that AI is coming for your jobs but in fact - right now - this technology is creating jobs, women should be seeing technology companies like ours as a real option. And rest assured, you might be a software developer or an analyst or a tester but if uniting people and ideas is your skill then the world needs you too, perhaps now more than ever.