Welcome to a new series of interviews where we talk about various positions in PGS Software. The idea to introduce the specifics of different roles came from our employees who are not always fully aware of what it means to work in certain positions in the company. On a daily basis, we often see only a fraction of the responsibilities of a project team members.
To start with, we will look at the work of the Project Management Office (PMO) department. We asked our Delivery Managers, namely Agata Hanak, Katarzyna Wesołek, Katarzyna Skoniecka and Mariusz Nosol, about their tasks and challenges they face every day.
What does the structure of the PMO department look like?
Mariusz Nosol (PMO Lead): The team currently consists of 24 people and is scattered between Wrocław, Gdańsk and Rzeszów. Interestingly, a few years ago, there was no such thing as the project management department. Back then, Team Leaders were responsible for contact with clients and staff development. The growth of PGS Software and the related new responsibilities and challenges forced increased specialization in the company in 2015. Hence, some people, including myself, decided to follow the path of Project Management. In the beginning, we made up the department, but with time we started outsourcing people.
Not long ago the name “Project Manager” was changed to a “Delivery Manager”. Where does this change come from?
M.N.: Lately, the time has come that we needed to rethink the names and areas of responsibility. It turned out that more and more often our clients’ idea of a Project Manager’s responsibilities in our company don’t tally with the reality. Clients, especially corporate clients, have their Project Managers, and this role is often different from what we do. At PGS Software, there is much more to it.
Agata Hanak (Delivery Manager): We wrote down all the things we do at work on a daily basis, and we came up with a pretty long list. It turned out that our tasks go far beyond the typical responsibilities of a Project Manager whose job boils down to project management.
So what does a Delivery Manager at PGS Software do?
A.H.: Some responsibilities of a Project Manager or a Scrum Master are similar, but our scope of duties covers much more. First of all, we are responsible for providing clients with the services they ordered. We help them achieve their business goals, we build relationships with them, advise them, and share our experience in IT project management with them if they need it.
Katarzyna Skoniecka (Delivery Manager): Plus, we build a team within PGS Software, help our account managers and sellers acquire new contacts. Not to mention managing risk, reacting to changes, responding to people’s requests … There are a lot of tasks to do!
Katarzyna Wesołek (Delivery Manager): Each area of the project (e.g. the management of scope, budget, time, people, quality, risk, communication, etc.) must be optimized, but at the same time these areas must all form a cohesive whole. It reminds me of a mechanical watch: when one cog stops working, it immediately affects the entire mechanism. That is why it is so important for a Delivery Manager not to focus on details and not lose sight of the overall perspective.
The list of areas you have to deal with is truly impressive. Building relationships with clients has come to my attention. Could you tell me more about it?
K.W.: For me, from the very beginning, trust is the basis for relationships. Establishing them will not be possible without focus, transparency, commitment, honesty, and, above all else, the time spent together.
A.H.: I like developing relationships with my clients by meeting face to face. This is why I value business trips and opportunities to talk to clients, for instance, about their interests or hobbies. Such meetings allow me to get to know their approach to life better and understand what is important to them. They help me a lot at work. As the pandemic keeps us all closer to home these days, I see how much I miss these meetings. I talk to my clients, and I know they miss them, too. They recognize the great value in face to face meetings, too. I look forward to seeing them in real life again.
K.S.: One of the recent situations has shown us how important good relationships are. There was a problem with financing the project on the client’s side. Instead of sending an email or making a call, the client got in the car and drove 700 km only to talk to us live and to decide what we do next. He left after an hour, covering 700 km on his way back home. For me, it was a clear sign that we are partners and that the client does not treat us only as a service provider.
What about working with the team at PGS Software? What does it look like on an everyday basis?
M.N.: My favourite answer is as follows: it depends. Depending on a project specifics, sometimes it is a very active role that covers facilitating meetings, managing work, removing obstacles, solving difficult situations. However, there are projects in which the role of a Delivery Manager comes down mainly to building and maintaining relationships with clients and dealing with administrative issues.
A.H.: We usually have several projects at one go, so I try to meet with each of the teams at least once a week to find out what is going on, what they are pleased with and what should be improved. Then I can talk to the client and introduce changes to make everyone’s life better.
K.W.: I try to be always available to the team. We spare no effort to make the relationships based on honest feedback, and we do not avoid difficult topics. Teamwork and the proactive behaviour of team members are important to me. I try to support their initiatives and give them space to experiment and, what goes with it, to make mistakes and learn from them.
Speaking of availability, it looks like your calendar is full.
K.W.: Oh yes, our work involves many meetings and switching between projects and topics. We meet over a dozen or so people every day. Our schedule is tight, and a Delivery Manager’s backlog is endless. Good priority management is essential.
K.S.: Sometimes, I have to ask team members to bring me water or coffee because I don’t have time to do it myself in between meetings. (laugh)
Isn’t difficult to switch between tasks? How do you deal with it?
M.N.: Not everyone is aware of the complexity of the environments in which we operate. Switching between tasks is a real challenge, and a good Delivery Manager must learn this skill.
A.H.: As I mentioned earlier, we usually work with more than one client. As a result, there are many different issues to handle and decisions to make. We receive several messages at the same time: something does not work all of a sudden, someone is sick, or there is a difficult situation elsewhere we need to remedy. Our daily challenges include efficient management of priorities, multitasking, clear communication, and goal orientation.
K.S.: I would also throw in coping with conflict situations. You have to stay cool, react adequately to the situation, try to understand all sides to a conflict, and not go overboard. It takes practice.
Let’s go back to the switching between tasks and endless backlog. It seems to me that this position requires great organizational skills.
A.H.: Yes, it’s true. Managing workload and setting priorities are of fundamental importance. We improve these skills every day.
K.S.: We learn not only how to manage time but also how to be open to other people and understand their motivation. We meet people from many different cultures and backgrounds every day.
What do you value most in this position?
M.N.: I am very pleased when we manage to help clients in business and when we become part of their team. Clients like working with us, they have been doing it for many years. Our relationships are very close. It is also interesting to watch people develop at work.
A.H.: I really like working with people. I cannot imagine a Delivery Manager without such an approach because this position involves establishing and maintaining contact with people.
K.W.: I like teamwork and the moment when the team members stop acting as many and the team becomes capable of self-organization.
K.S.: I value independence. At PGS Software, there is no single recipe for leading projects. Every task is different, every client is different, and every Delivery Manager is different. What I also like is the fact that I can lead the team in line with my nature, temperament, knowledge, and experience. Clients fully trust our team. And this is great!
Thank you for the interview.