Hi, I’m Dan Waters. My job is Delivery Principal, which means I’m responsible for delivering projects, and owning all aspects of the delivery: commercial, team, project vision, project delivery, and client management.
I’m part of Softwire’s Senior Management Team and I report to (and work closely with) Client Directors, who are responsible for portfolio performance and account management of the clients.
What does a Delivery Principal do?
My role is split into three areas:
- Team happiness: I make sure my teams are happy and professionally fulfilled, the projects have the right blend of people working on them and everyone gets opportunities to progress their careers in the ways they want. I’m leading several project teams at a time, with anywhere from 25-40 people across them at one time.
- Customer communications: My role is to understand our customers’ tactical and strategic needs, to align Softwire’s goals with theirs. I define the overall project approaches and plans and monitor the progress – proactively identifying and addressing risks throughout. I’m the ultimate escalation point for project-related issues and identifying and implementing solutions.
- Playing an important role in ensuring Softwire meets its commercial aims: This line of work includes monitoring project budgets and addressing commercial and contractual issues. I’ll also proactively seek out new opportunities within the portfolio of clients, helping our sales teams bid for and secure new work.
Real-life examples of my work at Softwire
Reviewing customer pain points and defining a way forward
A partner introduced us to a potential client to help them do a review of their current project: Integrating a new mobile app into the existing enterprise applications and services. They were worried about side effects of the integration. As a way forward, I wrote up a bullet-point plan for what they wanted and how we could help them, demonstrating how we’d tackle their challenges.
Another time, I had a call with a Softwire project manager about a client’s request for a complicated set of bespoke system reports for the next quarter. He wanted some guidance on how to present the data, and came to me for help. I looked over the first draft of his reports, and we had a chat about formats and data organization methods to make the findings clearer. The client was very happy with the end results.
Helping on presales bids to secure new business
I had a pre-sales chat with a colleague who was helping a new public sector client with their problem – they hired an external agency to update their internal systems to comply with new government policies on data storage, however they weren’t sure if the agency’s plan was going to work and come in under budget.
Attend client meetings to communicate technical plans
I was on a call with an enterprise media client about their software rebuild. We had just implemented a list of new customer-facing design features to improve the user experience. The project lead did a great job demonstrating each feature clearly and discussing each features’ impact.
As the technical lead, I joined the conversation to provide technical input and share how the new features met the client’s requirements. The client was impressed with the quick turn-around of the development work. They even raised some new ideas in their feedback – we discussed how we could carry them out, which led to new feature requests!
Supporting junior colleagues with their careers
As an experienced manager, I have regular weekly calls with junior colleagues to help accelerate their careers, set expectations, provide support, and monitor progress. These conversations are rewarding as I can share the benefit of my experiences and knowledge to help them grow and challenge them with novel tasks when I see that they’re capable.
A recent call was with a junior colleague who had just come back to work after paternity leave, so this was a chance to help him settle in slowly and emphasize a good work-life balance with his new situation. I shared the team’s progress on the project, ran through the next stages of work and we picked out three tasks to do to ease him back into work.
Using my managerial skills to support other managers
I had a phone call with a senior project manager, who manages several projects happening within the financial services sector. She reached out to ask for advice about managing one of her teams, as she wanted to give directional feedback at the next internal project management meeting.
She had only given feedback one-on-one before, so I was happy to share my experience of giving group feedback. In the past, I’ve given group feedback to colleagues that I manage and to the executive board, so I gave her some ideas. We had a really good discussion, and she was happy with her plan for addressing the team.
Supporting teams with their day-to-day work
I make sure that each team has the right people, and those people have their tasks mapped out daily, so they know what they’re meant to be doing. I delegate a lot of tasks out to people, but I also make sure that I’m delegating out to people who will learn from the experience, be productive and enjoy the task. I want to empower my teams to do a fantastic job.
The list adjusts depending on what is happening each week, so that gives me great variety and keeps me on my toes. I could be:
- Talking to a developer about specific pieces of code and answering questions
- Chasing client invoices so that I can direct task work to begin
- Resolving escalated technical issues that need more experience and investigation
- Testing or checking project plans to make sure I’m happy with the technical elements
- Providing tailored feedback from my meetings with client directors or the sales department
Work-Life balance at Softwire
Each day, I work from 9am to 5.30pm, with a decent number of breaks through the day and an hour lunch break. In the office, there’s a fully stocked breakfast kitchen with cereal, fruit and pastries, and at lunch, the kitchen makes daily affordable lunches.
There’s always something happening at lunch for socializing. In the past, I’ve played pool games, Super Smash Bros tournaments, Micro Machines on a modded PS1 competitions and I’ve attended some lunch-time social clubs.
After work, there are weekly morale events, but I have a seven-month-old daughter so I like to be at home to support my partner with childcare. Along with the great benefits, I’m grateful to have flexibility for the days when I really need to leave early.
How to become a Delivery Principal at Softwire
I really love being a Delivery Principal at Softwire, as I can help people fulfil their tasks to the highest quality and lead exciting transformation projects for clients.
In this job, I’m involved in strategy and management, which supports my career level of experience, but also technical development and advisory support, which uses my technical skillset daily.
Everyone is so nice to work with and love what they do, so I feel lucky to be working with like-minded people.
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