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Why every project manager should be a delivery manager

I regularly get asked why our teams are consistently able to deliver, often where others have stalled (or failed). After considering technical expertise, dedication, training and many other factors, I’m compelled to think that it’s the buy-in of all involved in the “delivery” that makes the single largest difference. Development must own delivery (DevOps anyone), QA must be a driving force to get things working and project management must buy-in too.

Conveniently the latter has lead me to the key point for this opinion piece, project managers need to buy into delivery in the same way as all technical members of the delivery team. The delivery mind-set implies a transition from reporting facts to chasing them down, from asking questions to helping them be answered and from supporting planning to driving it.

The best delivery managers need to be one-part technical Product Owner, one-part Scrum Master and one part technical, thereby managing the trade-off of features (“MVP”), timelines (“now”) and cost. Where vendors or costed-internal-parties are involved the latter is particularly important as the delivery manager will then also be ensuring delivery within budget.

Recent analysis on one of our large enterprise projects showed that almost 1/3 of issues (31%) had external dependencies that would not have been delivered on time, had a delivery person (development or delivery manager) actively been involved in its resolution