Solita employs a myriad of professionals in project and service management. This is a fairly large number of specialists, and Solita’s Slack project management competence community has more than 170 professionals who are enthusiastic about project management sharing competences and best practices with one another. The growth of our business operations leaves an ongoing demand for new project and service managers in Solita’s various areas of expertise.
We collected some of the most common questions puzzling job applicants about the job of a project manager at Solita, and Eevi Kilpeläinen and Tuomas Tuunainen promised to give us their answers.
Tell us about yourself! Who are you, and what do you do at Solita? Can you also say a couple of words about your background?
Eevi: My name is Eevi Kilpeläinen, and I’ve been at Solita for two months. I’ve been in the IT sector for a few years. Previously, I was strongly involved in software robotics (RPA), and when I came to Solita, I moved to solutions in the cloud sector. In the current customer relationship, public cloud solutions are growing rapidly, so there’s plenty of work ahead.
Most solutions have been built on AWS, but GCP has also become a topical solution. My own current customer account doesn’t have any large, active cloud project deliveries in progress (there are others, sure, but I’m not involved in them). Most of the projects are in production, so the solutions are in maintenance, and active further development is being done on them in addition to maintenance tasks. Besides a project manager’s duties, I also perform a service manager’s tasks. At Solita I’ve thus far joined one customer relationship that has several different projects/services underway. However, I look at these as “one package”. We work in close cooperation with the customer.
Tuomas: My name is Tuomas Tuunainen, and I’ve worked as a project manager at Solita for approximately three years. A project manager’s role at Solita varies quite a lot, depending on the account, project and individual. I’ve been able to work on many different customer relationships at Solita, and although every one of them has been its own type in a different way, I’ve always been allowed to do things in my own style, without constraints from above. I’ve worked in the IT sector in general for approximately five years, from software design to the duties of a service manager, project manager and team leader. I am a Master of Science in Engineering in data management, which I feel has given me a good foundation for the matters I face in my work.
Tuomas, can you please describe your time at Solita in detail and explain how you have been able to develop yourself?
T: During my career at Solita, I’ve become familiar with numerous different technologies and projects of various styles, such as integrations (on-prem, hybrid, iPaas, e.g. Oracle, Dell Boomi, Azure, MuleSoft), Web development (Episerver, Custom implementations), and data-related work (Data platform, datahub, masterdata – e.g. Azure, Snowflake, ADE, SQL server, MDS, etc.). In addition to project work, my work days can include service/customer relationship management, sales-related duties and various in-house tasks.
In larger customer relationships, we usually have several teams from different solution areas, such as data/integrations/cloud/dev. I’ve been primarily responsible for one development team’s operation, and cooperation between other teams and the customer, but also for projects requiring cooperation between numerous different solution areas. Projects like this require more planning, coordination (between Solita, the customer and other suppliers) and steering than projects done with only our own team, but they are also educational and rewarding. Smaller customer relationships may revolve around one larger project or service, where the project manager can be in charge of the customer relationship more comprehensively.
What are the customer relationships like?
E: I’ve been assigned to one account where I can carry out a broad spectrum of different duties. This is a major strategic client for Solita, so it’s been great to be able to work on this customer relationship from the very beginning. Working on an account with one large customer is also good, because it involves other project and service managers, people in a PO role, and an account director who provides plenty of peer support. This was important for me as a new Solita employee. The cloud includes many different accounts of varying sizes. The cloud’s clientele includes customers from both the public and private sectors. However, I believe most of them are private enterprises.
T: It depends on the size of the account and the kinds of delivery made to the customer. Generally speaking, Solita aims to ensure that we work as entire teams or at least as partners with clients, to avoid selling individual consultants as “pairs of hands” to the customer. Acting in this way also helps spread Solita’s culture and team spirit, and keep them unified. With larger strategic customers, Solita may have dozens of people doing the work, and the accounts function very independently, like a low organisation. Sometimes you may feel like you’re in your own miniature company within Solita when you’re working on a large customer relationship. In the case of smaller accounts, deliveries or projects, you may have a crew of 2–10 people that is scaled according to the customer’s needs. In these smaller accounts, you notice how you can spread good practices and experiences from one account to the next, because the job rotation between accounts works well, and we can flexibly respond to customer needs.
Can the work be done remotely even after the coronavirus restrictions are eliminated?
E: Telecommuting is not an obstacle as such, and some tasks can also be performed from home in the future. At Solita, you can work from other places than the localities where Solita has an office.
T: Before the coronavirus pandemic, most employees telecommuted at least occasionally, and I believe that remote work will be an increasingly popular custom when the pandemic is over. Since teams are often dispersed by locality, it doesn’t matter much whether individual employees sit in an office or at home if team work is handled virtually in any case.
What sizes of projects and services does Solita provide?
E: The sizes of services and projects provided by Solita vary a great deal. Some projects and services may be small ones, but we also have larger deliveries.
T: Solita has projects and services from one end of the spectrum to the other. The smallest projects may be assignments lasting a few or a few dozen days, while the largest ones are projects worth tens of millions of euros. With accounts, Solita typically strives for a partnership in which the company can provide added value through its ongoing project and service deliveries and expertise.
How large are the teams headed by project managers?
E: This also varies a lot, depending on the size of the delivery and the account. You may have small teams of 1–2 people or of 10 individuals, and obviously everything in between.
T: Typically, a project manager has a team of approx. 3–10 people to lead in one account. Teams larger than that usually do not work effectively enough, so it may be necessary to divide the crew into several teams. In projects with one or two people, on the other hand, the project manager’s role may be smaller, but even then, the PM often manages the progress of the project delivery and administrative work on a part-time basis.
What kinds of role are there in teams of experts?
E: The roles also vary, depending on what is being delivered. You can have junior developers, senior developers, specialists, and architects, for instance. With regard to experts, projects and services tend to include at least one junior + senior combination and an architect if necessary. Solita has a wide range of expertise in various sectors and technologies. Many accounts also require a different kind of competence, so experts from different units can be used.
T: A team’s roles depend on the project and the account. Typically, a team includes at least one senior, one junior, a project/service manager and possibly an architect. In larger projects, the number of people is scaled up as required. With some projects, it may be impossible to work with a full allocation, so an individual expert/project manager can belong to two teams of experts, with the time is divided between them.
What kind of responsibility does a project manager have for accounts?
E: Project managers have a great deal of responsibility for customer relationships. In principle, a project manager continuously deals with employees working on accounts. Usually, opportunities for additional sales are observed when you talk to different people and hear what is happening with the customer account. The account director has primary responsibility for the account, and Solita’s account directors work in close cooperation with project and service managers. The various sectors of a customer account can be increased through joint efforts.
Is it possible to participate in the organisation of personnel events at Solita?
E: I don’t have any experience of this, but I would think so.
T: Absolutely – everyone who is interested can organise events or take part in the organisation.
Is Solita a hierarchical organisation?
E: No, it isn’t. One of the best things about Solita is the absence of pointless bureaucracy. This is manifested in daily life in many ways, like not needing to seek separate approval from different people but instead relying on a project manager’s experiences and views of matters. Also, Solita does not place excessively precise structures for work; instead, you can do things according to your own tastes and styles. Of course, instructions and assistance are always on offer, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
T: Solita does have a hierarchy, but it is fairly low and practically invisible in everyday life. People work very independently on customer accounts but can still utilise the services and opportunities Solita offers, so they can flexibly respond to customer needs. All kinds of micromanagement are conspicuous by their absence, and the time spent on reporting is usually minimised.
What kind of team would I be able to work in?
E: My own team (the Cloud & Connectivity project manager team) is really nice and has people all over Finland. We hold joint monthly meetings and have coffee with the team, so you can also get to know the members in a more relaxed atmosphere. The team has about 10 people at present. Another good thing is that the team has many beginners, so there’s definitely a circle of support.
What kind of pay model and which employee benefits does Solita have?
E: Solita’s pay model comprises a monthly salary, as well as really good employee benefits, which include a good phone and subscription benefit, a sports and culture pass, an employer-subsidised commuter ticket and an employer-subsidised bicycle. In addition, Solita has different hobby clubs that employees can attend according to their own interests. Massage therapy is also offered at the office twice a week.
How agile is the way in which projects are carried out at Solita?
E: As a rule, projects at Solita are performed agilely (at least to my understanding), and Solita is an extremely Agile company. Solita also invests in agility and understanding it by means of different training and bulletins, for example. This helps bring the Agile way of thinking to customer accounts too. Of course, a certain project’s level of agility also depends on the client, and their strategic intention and ways of working.
T: In principle, projects should be carried out by agile methods such as Scrum. Solita has a number of top-notch Agile coaches whose professional skills can be utilised if the customer is unfamiliar with agile methods, and the goal is to proceed from traditional project models in a more agile direction. Lean thinking is strongly manifested in Solita’s daily project life, and agile methods and the Agile way of operating are reviewed at Starter events organised for all new employees.
How are Solita’s values manifested in your daily life?
E: Solita’s values are caring, courage, passion and an easy-going attitude. These values are also visible in a project manager’s everyday life. Even project managers must embrace the values to ensure that the project team operates in accordance with the values. Solita employees are clearly open-minded and easy-going people, and working with them is pleasant and easy. This helps create a more relaxed feeling for customers, and we often laugh throughout our joint meetings! People at Solita have the courage to highlight clear problems and intervene in them, and boldly think of different procedures to make daily life easier. Even in this short time, I have also noticed that people here clearly care about one another, and everyone has a burning desire to do their very own thing.
T: Solita’s values are not mere catchphrases on recruitment slides – they’re actually manifested in our work and in the kinds of people who work at Solita. I would say that the best thing about Solita is that the values really are followed, and they steer the decisions that are made. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Solita employs smart and motivated people who naturally share the same values and attitude towards work. Personally, I’ve always been able to be confident that I can get help from a colleague when necessary, and that problems won’t be swept under the carpet. After all, Solita mainly sells thought-based work where, I believe, satisfied and motivated employees are one of the most important success factors. When you look after employees, and are transparent and committed to the values, this must be conveyed in the quality of work with customers and helps create sustainable business operations that benefit everyone of us.
Thank you Eevi and Tuomas for your answers!
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