People story

My day at Solita as Customer and Service Lead

Marika Saarnilinna Customer and Service Lead, Solita

Published 18 Nov 2021

Reading time 6 min

Who am I?

My name is Marika Saarnilinna and I have been working for Solita for over seven years now. Back in the day, I started as a Project Manager in one of our strategic accounts as responsible lead for an infrastructure migration project.

During these years at Solita I have been lucky to gain experience in various roles: as Service Manager, Project Manager, People Lead, Delivery Lead as well as recruitment, competence development, and resourcing related tasks. Not forgetting continuous services consultation in and outside Solita – service management and service development are especially close to my heart. Domain and tech environment has mainly focused on software development, cloud and infra development, and maintenance, but also service design and data management have played an important role in all of the customer cases.

At the moment I am working as a Customer and Service Lead for one of Solita’s strategic accounts and for me this is a great chance to deepen my knowledge not only in project management but also in customer relationship management alongside our Account Manager. To clarify, half of my work consists of customer lead responsibilities and the other half project management responsibilities.

So, what do I do on a daily basis?

This is something we usually ask our Project Manager candidates in recruitment interviews to understand their daily life and responsibilities in their current projects. Many times candidates shoot back the same question to us, how is the daily life at Solita then? What could be expected when starting as a Project Manager in our crew? What kind of things are on our tables?

Well, first of all, I gotta admit that there’s no such a thing as “normal day” that could be used as an example of everyday life at Solita projects. But here I try to tell you a wrap-up of my day.

My workday in a nutshell

This Friday I decided to work remotely from home even though the new normal after long covid period now allows us to work also at offices. At Solita we have had really flexible remote working policies even before covid.

Now it has been great to meet colleagues at the office and have random discussions while having a cup of coffee – I have really been waiting for this.

Anyway, let’s get back to my remote day and a remote cup of coffee.

My morning started with customer lead-related stuff. I went through some resourcing changes that are taking place at the moment in our customer projects. These are not all projects that I am leading, but as a Customer Lead, I am responsible for the overall resourcing of our customer’s projects. Not alone, but together with our Account Manager, Project Leads, and customer.

At the moment, one new software development project is about to start with new team members, and two other projects are having developer rotation needs, so I had a discussion with our staffing on the possibilities and developers allocations to decide how to proceed. Staffing plays an important role not only in the Customer Lead’s daily life but also in every Project Manager’s responsibilities.

Most of the time resourcing is like collecting pieces of a puzzle, analysing risks and possibilities and it demands lots of communication, internally and with the customer. This time, we managed to fit the pieces together and I felt we had quite a nice resourcing solution for each of the projects.

We also had the first internal onboarding session for a new developer joining our customer project from Tallinn. We went through some really practical things related to our customer, project kick-off meeting, and traveling. This is important since at this point of the project everything is new for the team member, especially if you haven’t worked for the customer before.

My own projects

After resourcing and onboarding practicalities I moved my focus to my own projects. First I discussed with the customer’s Project Manager about project invoicing and agreement regarding a project which has been in maintenance phase for quite some time. We also double-checked next week’s production update schedule and practicalities.

Then I jumped to my project’s daily meeting together with my project team. We were mainly discussing the project situation and the status of tasks.

I think it is also important to discuss other topics that are not purely related to the project in the daily meetings. Especially in times like this when people are still mainly working from home.

This time the discussion topic was different languages within the project group. We discussed what happens when the language changes from native to English. Is it as easy to have small talk and chat about non-project-related topics also? We came to the conclusion that it certainly has an effect but should definitely not be a blocker.

All right, time to move focus back to customer lead stuff, some interesting things coming up. We have started planning our internal customer day where all the team members (over 30 Solitans already!) could meet, share thoughts, workshop, and just spend some time together. Today we planned the day with the facilitator – Solita has internal facilitator services where you can ask if someone is available to facilitate and bring new ideas for your event. At the same time, facilitators can practice their skills with various types of group sessions.

Also, some evening activities were planned, not only the formal agenda. Seems that we are having a really nice team-building event coming up in November!

Fresh ideas from the internal project management community

Time to grab some lunch and take a cup of coffee. The afternoon will be spent in Solita’s Project Lead Forum which is an active community focused on project management competence development, knowledge sharing, and peer support.

We started group discussions around the topic “Project Lead as people lead”, meaning that Project Lead is usually the closest person to team members in project life and therefore also people lead type of responsibilities are of course part of Project Manager’s daily life.

We also had a chance to hear experiences from the Project Manager’s “job shadowing” project, meaning that some of our Project Managers have visited other projects’ meetings and been giving feedback and inspiration on how to improve the project management methods. This has of course been done with the customer’s permission.

Last but not least we dived into the Project Manager’s competence mapping which can be utilised for example in Project Manager recruitment interviews and development discussions to understand and identify project management skills and the level of those skills and passion. The afternoon was very interesting and it gave me lots of insight outside my own projects! Definitely a forum that I must attend also in the future. Maybe I could also be active and contribute somehow to the community.

So, that’s about it. Maybe not a normal day at Solita as a Project Manager, but hopefully this sheds some light on what is happening inside our walls and what could be expected when starting as a Project Manager at Solita.

  1. Culture