My name is Lyndsay Prewer, and I’m currently working as a Technical Delivery Manager for one of Equal Experts’ public sector clients.
I share the role with another EE consultant, Beccy, and between us we lead seven teams that develop and maintain our client’s Platform-as-as-Service (PaaS). This is used by 50+ digital delivery teams, distributed all around the UK. These teams design, deliver and support hundreds of microservices that serve online content to the client’s varied customers.
A typical day for me starts with my train commute into London. I use this time for a mixture of personal reflection, catching up on Slack/emails, and learning about any parts of the PaaS tech stack that I’m less familiar with (my tech-du-jour is mongodb). This is like catnip to me – I was a developer before moving into leadership, and I still really enjoy learning new languages and technologies.
Building our client relationship
Once on site, Beccy and I work closely with our client Product Owner, Andrew. One of his daily rituals is a morning coffee run, which we’ll often accompany him on. It’s a great opportunity to chat about current events, whether they be highlights from our weekends or burning issues within the client organisation.
These impromptu conversations are important – they provide the wider context that is vital for us to bear in mind as consultants. This allows us to better empathise with our client, better understand their needs and constraints. And the coffee’s good, too.
Organising for self-organisation
Equal Experts strongly supports self-organisation and adaptation to context, and hence each of the teams that Beccy and I serve is free to pick and choose its own agile/lean practices as they best see fit.
In keeping with this mindset, each team has its own Delivery Lead and Product Owner. Still, some co-ordination and shared context is essential, and we run a daily scrum-of-scrums (SoS) that achieves this well. We’re also in daily contact with Chris, Equal Experts’ Engagement Manager for this client.
Ahead of the SoS, Beccy and I often hold our own daily standup to catch up on each other’s successes and challenges, and to co-ordinate who progresses any new items in our shared backlog.
I’m a big fan of pair-programming, and despite our roles being somewhat “non-technical”, working so closely with Beccy and Chris provides a huge degree of reassurance, affirmation, support and fun – similar to what I’ve experienced when pair-programming.
Getting stuff done
My work is often derived from the SoS meeting. Although each of the platform teams has clear ownership over different work areas, the breadth and scale of our platform and digital services inevitably means that some issues defy clear categorisation.
That’s where my role comes in. In addition to facilitating cross-team co-ordination, a key aspect of the job is picking up these miscellaneous issues and either completing them, or progressing them to a point where they are ready to hand over to a specific team.
This often takes the form of engaging with a range of stakeholders to gauge the scope of a problem, and shape its business and technical aspects into a form that’s sufficiently well defined for a platform team to progress. I love this part of the role, as it requires a diverse set of skills:
- Getting to grips with a technical concept (such as how microservices address third party components);
- Using our monitoring tools to analyse traffic, and gather data to help guide decisions;
- Working with delivery teams to understand their usage of a platform feature, and the impact that any change would have on them.
The wider view
Beyond the immediate day-to-day, we also make sure to keep an eye on the wider context of our work. We’ve recently been helping our teams to form some strategic goals for the platform.
Facilitating the delivery of these goals is now a significant part of my focus. Most of the goals require co-ordination between multiple teams to get them delivered, alongside the backlogs of regular and ad-hoc work that each team has to address.
To help understand the impact of this strategic work on each team, I’m holding regular sessions with each Product Owner and Delivery Lead pair to gain a deep understanding of their team’s work-in-progress and backlog. This gives me important context, empathy and a sense of the bigger picture, all of which is essential to facilitating how the teams get the cross-team goals broken down, planned, prioritised and delivered.
Space for gratitude
One of the things I love about EE is the wide variety of opportunities we have to enrich people’s lives – be they our clients, client’s customers, our colleagues or anyone we meet! An essential and very satisfying part of my role is showing appreciation to our clients and colleagues. This may be as simple as taking someone out for lunch, or sending them a small gift. A more fun and unusual gift I recently organised was a custom designed cake for a senior stakeholder, who was leaving after 30 years service with our client.
My day draws to an end via another train commute home. If it’s been a particularly intense day, an episode (or two) of the IT Crowd helps me unwind. If something of wider interest to the EE network happened, then I’ll also write an internal EE blog post, to share something of our successes, learnings and challenges. Our network is large and very diverse, and so sharing news in this way helps form new connections across the network and strengthen existing ones.
Hopefully this gives you a flavour of what my role entails… but of course, no role, client or day is exactly the same at EE, which helps to make this a very satisfying place to work.