The Impact of the Delivery Leader Role

In recent blogs, we have discussed the importance of clearly defined roles and responsibilities in driving success for Professional Services (PS) teams. Roles and responsibilities create clarity, foster accountability, and keep talent motivated toward fulfilling individual duties to deliver team outcomes. They enable teams to become “operationally ready” to execute a differentiated model. In our latest blog, we explore the critical role of the Account Lead, the owner of the account strategy and client relationship. In this blog, we will describe another integral position: The Delivery Leader.

The Delivery Leader role is common to every engagement and may also be referred to as the Project Manager, Engagement Lead, and/or Program Lead. Though engagement scope and type may vary, the core duties of the role remain consistent.  The Delivery Leader ensures the effective planning and execution of current and future engagements of a client journey.

A successful Delivery Leader must be able to blend and balance both the “art” and “science” of motivating a team to achieve the engagement’s target outcomes. Therefore, the following responsibilities are central to the role:

Understanding the Client Situation and Objectives – The Delivery Leader is responsible for learning about the client situation, understanding their desired outcomes, and anticipating (and planning for) challenges that affect the team’s ability and timing to achieve those outcomes.  By clarifying the project success criteria upfront, Delivery Leaders are poised to build an actionable plan to accomplish them.

Building an Integrated Project Plan – With the client objectives in mind, the Delivery Leader works with key client stakeholders and internal team members to create an actionable project plan that defines the activities, the resources, and the timeline that will guide the team’s efforts during implementation.

Managing the Project – The Delivery Leader oversees the day-to-day execution of the plan, ensuring that teammates are playing their roles and that milestones are being reached. They provide direction, enforce accountability, coordinate activities, mediate any conflicts, re-allocate resources as necessary, and work through organizational obstructions to keep the Client journey ahead of plan and under budget (while today you might be on plan and budget but something can happen tomorrow that puts the project behind and makes it more costly). They ensure that a high-quality work product and outcomes are being delivered to the Client, from day 1.

In addition to engagement delivery responsibilities, the Delivery Leader has important commercial duties. For example, the Deliver Leader:

  • Coordinates with Sales and Account Leads to ensure value proposition integration with delivery and understanding of the client’s specific circumstances,
  • Recommends the most impactful pull-through opportunities to Sales and Account Leads,
  • Supports the Account Lead in crafting and executing the communication plan to presell the pull-through opportunity, and
  • Helps execute the opportunity strategy – and often positions – the opportunity Idea to the client.

In the next blog, we will discuss the characteristics that enable a Delivery Leader to be effective in this multifaceted role.

Written by: Mark Slotnik and Sarah Cushman

About the Authors:

Mark Slotnik has spent nearly 20+ years advising clients in the areas of designing and taking to market high-value business solutions, solution portfolio management, talent development, resource management, business process re-engineering and commercial software.  

Sarah Cushman is a Manager with McMann & Ransford and has experience working with Fortune 500 companies to solve complex challenges, drive differentiation, and create long-term value.

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