3 Key Differentiators of Delivery Leads on Software Teams

The role of a Delivery Lead on a project can sound ambiguous if your experience has been to leverage Project Managers and SCRUM Masters in the planning or management of the development backlog. Where do Delivery Leads fit into the picture and what value does that role provide vs what our team already has?

While it’s our job to be the client’s proxy for the team when the client isn’t available, we’re often creating value in ways that other roles on the team, like Project Manager or SCRUM Master, don’t fulfill.

Delivery Leads have three key responsibilities on software teams:

  1. Future milestone planning
  2. Backlog guidance
  3. Connecting vision with implementation

Future Milestone Planning

A title on a high-level roadmap is often where this starts. The business has decided (or better yet, customers have indicated) the top priority. The team has to deliver it in three months, but how?

This is where Delivery Leads shine. We’re adept at communicating with stakeholders to identify the requirements. With experience in tech and business, we advise on how to deliver the greatest value as soon as possible. We’re responsible for collaborating with designers, developers, and clients on building high-level architecture and estimates.

These inputs, requirements, priorities, approaches, estimates, etc. give software teams the direction needed to know what we’re building, why we’re building it, and how we’ll get to the finish line.

Backlog Guidance

With a solid plan in place, Delivery Leads work with the team to build the backlog. With a foot in both business/customer needs and team implementation, we guide the sequence of work needed, often working two or three sprints into the future.

Much of this work is balancing strategic factors like risk, value, and time. We must address the riskiest areas first. We should make sure the work we’re doing is valuable to the customer, the business, and the application. The work we’re doing should help us reach our deadlines. And lastly, the plan uses our team’s skillsets and capacity as efficiently as possible.

Backlog guidance requires a strong understanding not only of what work is in the backlog but also of how the application works. One without the other would lead to team confusion, missed deadlines, and a product that customers don’t value. What a waste of resources in a competitive landscape that waits for no one.

Connecting Vision with Implementation

This is really a culmination of future planning and backlog guidance. When both are done well, Delivery Leads make the connection between aspiration and quality working software. A Delivery Lead’s ability to understand the big picture and dig into the details makes them co-creators. Alongside makers, Delivery Leads manage project risks, anticipate team needs, and set up the team for success.

For more stories and tools Delivery Leads use to support product teams, check out the Project & Team Management section of Spin.


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