Delivery Operations how to coordinate delivering value from your Digital, Data & AI investments
Delivery Operations: how to coordinate delivering value from your Digital, Data and AI investments

Whether you’re spending thousands or millions on a technology investment, you must ensure the investment is managed correctly and delivers the expected value. 

This starts with having the right structures within which the technology investment is delivered and the value realised. This is the foundation that gives you a Reliable Delivery capability.

In the modern world of Digital, Data & AI, coordination of ‘what’ and ‘how’ you deliver is needed now more than ever. This has typically been described as the responsibility of the Project Management Office (PMO). At Reach, we believe this is an outdated term that is too reminiscent of box-ticking and reporting – the terminology and responsibilities of a PMO need to evolve and become more relevant.

In this blog, we present Delivery Operations, clarify its purpose and describe the capabilities you should consider. 

Delivery Operations is the coordinating function that helps ensure business value is delivered from your investments in Digital, Data & AI. It manages and optimises the delivery of all business and technology change initiatives of all sizes and complexities. 

The key benefits of a Delivery Operations capability are:

  • ensures strategic alignment between organisational objectives and target delivery outcomes;
  • maximises business value and return on investment;
  • provides the right level of governance, best practice methodologies, and support structures for effective decision-making and risk management;
  • provides rigorous monitoring and reporting mechanisms to track progress against objectives;
  • ensures clear communication among stakeholders; and
  • coordinates across change delivery activities, drives efficiency, enhancing the overall delivery capability

In more complex environments, this function enables the seamless orchestration of resources, timelines, and budgets, ensuring that the C-suite has a reliable, transparent view of progress and progress towards benefit realisation.

 

Background

The Project Management Office (PMO) role has evolved significantly over the last 20-30 years, reflecting broader changes in technology, business practices, and organisational needs. 

The PMO’s role was historically grounded in a tactical need to support project execution. Today’s requirements include a greater strategic role integral to driving business transformation and achieving long-term objectives and value from investments.

This evolution mirrors the changes in the broader business environment, where themes such as agility, strategic alignment, and data-driven management have come to the fore.

The need to evolve the view of a PMO to Delivery Operations can be seen across several key themes:

 

Theme: From Tactical to Strategic

PMO in 90s & 00s

The PMO focused on tactical, operational aspects such as compliance, standardisation & performance monitoring. 

Delivery Operations Today

Functions are increasingly strategic and involved in shaping project portfolios that align with long-term business strategies. They are expected to drive organisational change and deliver strategic value beyond mere project execution.

 

Theme: Adoption of Agile and Hybrid Methodologies

PMO in 90s & 00s

PMOs primarily used traditional project management methodologies like Waterfall.

Delivery Operations Today

There is a significant shift towards Agile, Scrum, and hybrid methodologies. It is essential to provide support for more flexible, iterative project management approaches that better accommodate changing requirements & faster delivery.

 

Theme: Enhanced Focus on Value Delivery

PMO in 90s & 00s

The focus was more on project delivery within scope, time, and budget constraints.

Delivery Operations Today

Increasingly focused on the realisation of business value and ROI from projects. This includes ensuring that projects align with the business’ value streams and directly contribute to organisational goals.

 

Theme: Broader Scope of Responsibilities

PMO in 90s & 00s

Responsibilities were largely confined to project-related tasks.

Delivery Operations Today

Involved in a wider array of tasks, including strategic planning, resource management across projects, and even, in some cases, driving innovation within the organisation.

 

Theme: Technology Enablement

PMO in 90s & 00s

Technology played a supportive role, primarily in project tracking and documentation.

Delivery Operations Today

Technology is a key tool. Advanced project management tools, data analytics, AI, and machine learning are utilised for project forecasting, risk management, and decision support.

 

Theme: Change Management and Organisational Agility

PMO in 90s & 00s

Change management was more about managing changes within specific projects.

Delivery Operations Today

As part of playing a crucial role in ensuring value is achieved from projects, ensuring the right approach is used to deliver organisational change, helping businesses remain agile and responsive to market dynamics and internal changes.

 

Theme: Data-Driven Decision Making

PMO in 90s & 00s

Decisions were often based more on conventions and less on hard data.

Delivery Operations Today

Leverage data extensively to inform decision-making, employing metrics and analytics not just for project tracking but also for strategic insights and forecasting.

 

Theme: Global and Remote Project Management

PMO in 90s & 00s

Projects were more often managed within localised or regional contexts.

Delivery Operations Today

With globalisation and remote work trends, managing geographically dispersed teams and projects necessitates advanced communication tools and cross-cultural management skills.

 

Delivery Operations Analogy

A helpful analogy is that of air traffic control (ATC) systems. In the same way ATC is essential for the safe and efficient operation of airports by guiding, coordinating, and managing flights, Delivery Operations plays a crucial role in steering an organisation’s projects towards its strategic goals. It ensures alignment with business objectives, optimises resource allocation, and manages project risks.

For smaller airports managing less traffic with smaller aircraft, extensive ATC mechanisms are not necessary. Instead, these airfields operate effectively on pre-defined operational principles that ensure safety and coordination. Similarly, smaller organisations or those with less complex projects might not require a full-scale Delivery Operations capability. Simple, clear project management guidelines can suffice.

At the other end of the scale, at major international airports such as Heathrow, the complexity and volume of operations necessitate a robust and dedicated ATC team. Large organisations, particularly those undergoing substantial digital transformations, similarly benefit from well-equipped Delivery Operations capable of handling complex project portfolios and ensuring comprehensive governance and communication across the enterprise.

This analogy helps underline Delivery Operations’ pivotal role in ensuring project success, tailored to the organisation’s scale and needs.

 

Delivery Operations Objectives

The table below shows the objectives of a Delivery Operations function and the key activities you will need to consider:

 

Delivery Excellence

  • Setting up the appropriate delivery methodology for your organisation.
  • Operating governance to monitor project delivery (e.g. meetings, reporting).
  • Put in place appropriate tooling such as project management, planning and support.
  • Continually review for improvement opportunities.

Value and User Driven Outcomes

  • Ensure work is prioritised based on business impact and value and that end-users are at the core of design and development.
  • Delivery through to business change and value
  • Return on Investment (ROI) management, including desired benefit/outcome planning & tracking

Skilled Workforce

  • Ensuring appropriate resources are planned and in place.
  • Upskilling and adoption of your chosen delivery methodology

Managed Risk

  • Identify, assess and create plans to mitigate risks.

Engaged Stakeholders

  • Identify, map (influence/interest), and build management plans.
  • Communicate relevant, appropriate insight regularly.

Regulatory and Legal Compliance

  • Assure compliance with relevant regulatory and legal requirements.

Financial Discipline

  • Budgeting, business case creation, cost forecasting and management.

Commercial Awareness

  • Manage supplier relationships smartly, optimising service quality and cost efficiency.
  • Overseeing and coordinating Supplier relationships, contracts and performance.
  • Set procurement approach and support/lead the process.

Supportive & Collaborative

  • Fostering a one-team attitude, a can-do attitude
  • Promote a culture of wellbeing, engagement & openness

Data-Driven Decisions

  • Track performance using KPIs.
  • Ensure decisions are made using good-quality insight.
  • Innovate using tools and technology such as AI.

Establishing team-related objectives is of particular importance. This is essential for fostering a positive and productive work environment, especially where the people involved are spread across different areas of the business.

 

Align to your requirements

These objectives provide a starting point for understanding what capability is right for your organisation. The decision on what will work best for you largely depends on the scale and complexity of the work you’re undertaking and the existing structures within your organisation.

A skilled project manager can often effectively handle the roles typically required for straightforward projects with clear, manageable scope. These would include tasks such as planning, governance, risk management, and resource allocation.

If the project is likely to grow in complexity or if maintaining standardised processes across multiple projects offers a strategic advantage, setting up an appropriately sized Delivery Operations function can be beneficial. This can help maintain oversight and consistency, particularly in environments where strategic alignment and rigorous governance are crucial.

 

How Reach can help

How does your organisation coordinate delivering value from your investments in Digital, Data & AI? Are you well-positioned to deliver the objectives described in this blog?

We can help you set up and operate a Delivery Operations function tailored to your needs and organisation. We provide specialist resources working alongside your team to help you become self-sufficient, or we can provide a managed service if that is right for you.

Our track record and experience in Delivery Operations have been gathered over the last 30 years.

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