Lir Cowman, Project Manager in London, United Kingdom
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Lir Cowman

Verified Expert  in Project Management

Project Manager

Location
London, United Kingdom
Toptal Member Since
April 8, 2020

As a senior leader, Lir has 25+ years of transforming companies and their digital delivery. Her unique skillset includes operations with tools, templates, and processes for companies to run efficiently; delivery of decades of project management and Agile/Lean/Waterfall/Scrum expertise; and coaching to embed transformational change and help leaders and teams achieve their full potential. She brings a pragmatic, calm, and collaborative approach to the most challenging environments and problems.

Project Highlights

Quick Operations and Delivery Improvements
Implemented many positive changes in ten weeks at a digital consultancy. Defined the delivery processes, improved resource management, and created a balanced scorecard while managing multiple projects and pitching for a new business.
Discovery Phase Uncovering New Solutions
Led and managed the discovery phase for a new client to uncover the issues underlying their project and find several new solutions/considerations, leading them to commission the agency for the full project.
Charity Site Challenge
Rescued a large, troubled, and complex project after the entire team left weeks before the launch was due.

Expertise

Work Experience

Process Consultant | Executive Coach

2022 - 2024
LotLinx, Inc
  • Improved the processes used by the product team to deliver, support, and optimize their SaaS platform, supporting automotive dealers to enable the team to scale rapidly.
  • Interviewed around 10% of the team to uncover pain points and successes and document current processes.
  • Identified and agreed to a broad swathe of changes to the roles, team structure, processes, documentation (roadmaps/templates), environments, and tools.
  • Drove the rollout of these changes with a light touch—intermittent check-ins on status, actions, and next steps over the following 9-month period.
  • Wrapped with a final 1-year check-in set of interviews with the original interviewees to ensure improvements are firmly embedded.
  • Coached senior team members to support the transformation process and ensure the managers thrived through the changes.

Asana Expert

2023 - 2023
The MBS Group Ltd
  • Performed a rapid analysis of the best Asana approach for MBS's specific needs. Worked on the customization and training in Asana for the team, documentation of processes, and creation of custom Asana training materials. Did all the work with under 25 hours of effort.
  • Analyzed and documented current project processes with task flow diagrams after stakeholder interviews, with recommendations for process improvements to improve efficiency and reduce risk.
  • Created and iterated a range of Asana templates and defined best practices to optimize the team workflows for different project types.
  • Created training materials for the team, covering basic Asana usage for new team members, the details of the company's specific best practices and processes, and tips and tricks for advanced users to improve efficiency.

Website Redesign Project Manager

2023 - 2023
The University of Tulsa - Communications & Marketing
  • Analyzed all their websites, approximately 12,000 pages across over 20 subdomains. Proactive custom analysis tools and methodology were needed as there was little existing data available.
  • Mapped out the main sites, creating a breakdown of sections and pages. Created custom GA reports to prioritise areas of work by popularity.
  • Planned and managed the restructure and rewrite of the content.
  • Managed a team of up to 10 Toptal designers, writers, and developers as the project progressed, planning and reviewing their work.
  • Worked closely with the Tulsa marketing department throughout, building strong relationships within the teams and coaching and training individuals as the team grew.
  • Revised the process and project management tools for the Tulsa University team, defining how the Monday.com project management tool is used, improving the process, and providing training materials for the team.

Project Manager

2023 - 2023
Lloyd's Register
  • Successfully designed and built the new LR.org website on a new technical platform within eight weeks.
  • Joined shortly before the launch date to review and manage the development agency's work and to onboard and manage the incoming content migration team.
  • Audited the site content, mapped out the current structure, and analyzed how these would migrate into the new structure.
  • Managed the content migration team, prioritizing the movement of thousands of pages.
  • UAT'ed all work by the agency and recommended a practical set of changes to optimize the work for launch.

Delivery Consultant | Fintech App

2021 - 2022
Animo Services LLC
  • Defined and iterated the project process in a rapidly changing environment, where senior leads requested extensive change monthly.
  • Selected tools and optimized them for the team, with frequent changes to ensure alignment with process changes, supported by constant training and documentation.
  • Defined and supported the team with planning and provided support for product owners and business analysts, working out the structure and hierarchy in an environment of constant flux.
  • Coached senior team members to help them succeed in a challenging environment.
  • Scaled the team from less than five to more than 100 within three months, monitoring the productivity and efficiency of a globally dispersed team.

Consultant | Roadmap Tooling

2021 - 2021
Google
  • Analyzed the complex business processes of a large (1,000+) Google team within days of starting the role.
  • Identified how best to use the selected tool, Asana, to work with the process, gaining support and insight from the many stakeholders.
  • Tested, iterated, and rolled out this approach, with training, to senior Google management, within the tight 2-month deadline.

Project Manager

2021 - 2021
GlaxoSmithKline
  • Joined the GSK NEXT Innovation Oral Health team to manage and launch their first project, a real-world evidence behavioral science experiment using IoT-enabled toothbrushes.
  • Initiated and led the discovery process, with hypothesis formation workshops, research coordination and strategic direction analysis.
  • Managed a third-party partner launching a novel offering in the consumer service area.

Consultant | Trello

2021 - 2021
Molecule2Medicine
  • Defined processes and Trello templates for a wide range of types of projects and operations, collaborating with primary stakeholders to refine and adjust.
  • Integrated Trello with a range of power-ups, e.g., TeamGantt for project management and planning; Unito to improve flows of cards between boards.
  • Created a training deck on Trello usage to take the company from beginner to expert level and enable them to continue improving as they evolved.

Consultant | Process Improvement

2020 - 2021
AIIR Consulting
  • Defined requirements for the PM toolkit; analyzed several options against the requirements; recommended Asana as the best fit for their needs; set Asana up and rolled it out.
  • Analyzed and defined the current project management process; devised and rolled out process improvements.
  • Defined roles and responsibilities for account and project management teams; devised a quantitative approach to team planning.
  • Created a wiki for internal knowledge management within the first weeks. The wiki became the primary living source of process and company knowledge.
  • Created a pricing model, enabling the team to estimate pricing and margins easily based on deliverables and costs, and created a new tool to select and manage the FL coach team.
  • Trained and coached the team through a period of disruptive change for the company.

Consultant | Project Management

2020 - 2020
Azrieli Ecommerce Ltd.
  • Delivered a light-touch project as a scrum master, keeping the agile team unblocked and joining in the scrum rituals with just a few hours per month.
  • Defined a process with the team, moved ticket management from Trello to Jira, and introduced Asana for project management and planning.
  • Led the developer and QA team recruitment; defined the job descriptions and the onboarding and offboarding processes.
  • Coached the leadership team and senior team members (CTO, POs, and technical leads) through transformational change.

Consultant | Process Improvement

2020 - 2020
Joorney LLC
  • Reviewed and documented the client's current sales and operations processes then proposed and drove process changes to improve efficiency and transparency.
  • Evaluated tooling options for project management and sales teams. Defined requirements, assessed options, and led selection for the new toolset.
  • Drove fundamental changes to the usage of Wrike for project managers (e.g., workflow automation).
  • Defined the executive team’s product improvement and new product innovation process.
  • Created and populated a company-wide wiki to improve knowledge transfer and company communications.

Delivery Consultant

2019 - 2020
YLD
  • Optimized operations for YLD. Developed a balanced scorecard: a company dashboard with objectives, metrics, and targets with the leadership team. Further improved internal communications. Proposed changes to the sales CRM.
  • Delivered MVP for B2B SaaS in the finance sector. Led an embedded YLD and client development team to deliver a successful MVP over ten weeks as the Agile Coach, leading to further work.
  • Led the discovery workshop for a new publishing client. The rapid analysis uncovered several approaches to accelerate development. The client engaged YLD to support them for the remainder of the project.
  • Coached C-suite team members to clarify and enact change.
  • Led the new business team in complex, documentation-intensive responses, including creative concepts, work schedules, and budget planning for a one-year delivery, and ensured compliance with legal and procurement requirements when delivering the RFP.

Project Director

2019 - 2019
AKQA
  • Configured and adjusted the tooling throughout the project: Jira for the development teams, Abstract and Zeplin with InVision, and Sketch for the design and UX teams.
  • Led the remote development team in Poland as a scrum master using classic Agile Scrum for the development work while working concurrently with the creative team in London using Kanban to create a design system.
  • Provided Agile coaching and project management for a SaaS location services client based in Germany; delivered the Drupal upgrade in less than the two months allocated.

Delivery Consultant

2018 - 2019
YLD Consultancy
  • Defined the delivery process; created all the necessary documentation, lifecycle, playbook, templates, roles and responsibilities, checklists, and supporting sales assets.
  • Identified issues and optimized operations; proactively introduced a company-wide wiki and new resource management tools.
  • Acted as a delivery lead for an existing large corporate SaaS client, completed MVP, and agreed on a six-month team extension. Also delivered a new business with a gambling company, heading the intensive two-week discovery and project initiation.

Operations Director

2013 - 2018
Potato
  • Defined and improved processes, tools, and practices to enable quality delivery across the multimillion portfolio of 50+ projects across all disciplines. Led and line-managed operations team to support the 100-strong wider team.
  • Coached and led the project management team. Managed risk and monitored the health of budget, scope, and timelines across up to 50 concurrent projects for the main client, Google. Provided hands-on project management as needed.
  • Identified opportunities and managed relationships with senior stakeholders at Google (Potato's main client, 90% of the work), growing the account by 200%. Acted as the ultimate point of contact and escalation.
  • Mentored and coached teams. Served as a line manager for the whole PM team and senior team members in UXD and development teams. Achieved team growth from 30 to 100+ with a low staff turnover of <5%.
  • Defined and improved processes and reporting for resource utilization, project budget, schedule analysis, sales and revenue forecast, pipeline management, and team planning.

Project Director

2012 - 2013
MRM McCann
  • Delivered almost £1 million of work over several months as the contract project manager.
  • Launched the first-ever Vauxhall mobile site, built on AEM CMS.
  • Led a complex data integration project, co-coordinating many third parties and senior client stakeholders.
  • Reskinned and rebranded the existing Vauxhall site of several hundred pages within a fixed deadline of three weeks.

Head of Digital

2011 - 2012
J. Walter Thompson
  • Reduced project overages by 85% by improving the project management processes and estimation.
  • Grew the digital account portfolio by 30%, working directly with senior clients, such as Unilever and Duplo.
  • Defined digital processes and trained the wider non-digital, non-agile agency to work with digital, agile teams. Created templates and tools to improve delivery: source control, estimation templates, and many other elements.
  • Recruited new staff (20% growth). Improved efficiency by 10% by training non-digital staff to do digital work.

Freelance Project Manager

2010 - 2011
Various Agencies
  • Delivered a complex Umbraco CMS and data migration project, £500,000 to £1 million range, for a Wunderman Automotive client, Jaguar Land Rover.
  • Managed a complex Flash financial modeling project, from £500,000 to £1 million range, for MRM McCann for a financial services client.
  • Delivered Sitecore CMS and a large eCommerce build; from £500,000 to £1 million range, for TulloMarshallWarren's charity client, Marie Curie Cancer Care.
  • Managed Flash and Unity online game activation toolkits, from £100 to £500,000 range, for OgilvyAction's telecommunications client, Vodafone.

Operations Director

2007 - 2010
iris Worldwide
  • Optimized process, tools, and templates for the digital team of up to 80, covering project management, resource management, utilization analysis, new business and business development, estimation, sales pipeline planning, and revenue forecasting.
  • Completed hands-on delivery for some of the more complex projects for clients such as Lucozade and Sony.
  • Headed the project management team and drove quality throughout the project management process on all projects.
  • Grew the company from 20 to 80 over two years in the new digital arm of a wider integrated agency.

Senior Project Manager

2003 - 2007
MRM McCann
  • Delivered a wider range of projects as the senior project manager for this large online marketing agency. Clients included HP, MSN, UPS, and RBS Group. Budgets up to £500,000 per annum. Projects ranged from games, widgets, OLM, eCRM, and site builds.
  • Deputized as head of project management. Defined and improved project management processes, recruited and trained staff, and created documents, tools, and templates for the wider project management team to use.
  • Initiated and delivered internal operations improvements in areas such as resource management.

Quick Operations and Delivery Improvements

http://yld.io/

Implemented many positive changes in ten weeks at a digital consultancy. Defined the delivery processes, improved resource management, and created a balanced scorecard while managing multiple projects and pitching for a new business.

This was a brief contract. I made many improvements in how the company worked in just over two months. Given that they hired me again a year later, I could see that the changes were still being used.

I helped the existing delivery team define their offering and collaborated to develop improvements. I created all the necessary documentation, such as the playbook, templates, roles and responsibilities, checklists, and supporting sales assets. I proactively identified issues and optimized operations. Within the first week, I set up a wiki and began porting information from various sources. I also identified that resource management could be far more efficient with new tooling and began the rollout of this within the first two weeks. I developed a balanced scorecard at the request of the CEO, working closely with the senior management team to get their agreement on the metrics. While doing this, I also did hands-on project management. I was the delivery lead for an existing large corporate SaaS client and led the delivery of a new business with a gambling company, heading the intensive two-week discovery.

Discovery Phase Uncovering New Solutions

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/

Led and managed the discovery phase for a new client to uncover the issues underlying their project and find several new solutions/considerations, leading them to commission the agency for the full project.

The agency had begun working with a publishing client who was worried that a significant internal project would not hit its deadlines. The purpose of the discovery phase was to assess the project and problems in more detail to plan how the agency would best assist the client.

The issues outlined by the client were relatively simple. They wanted additional help to reduce the risk. After 12 interviews with assorted project team members, I realized that part of the problem was a difference in understanding the requirements. The development team believed it had to build a complex, future-proof platform, yet what was driving the imminent deadline was a much smaller problem. Specific areas needed to move off an existing platform to complete a contract. Neither the development nor the management team was aware of this requirement difference.

The client was delighted by this analysis and recommendations and commissioned the agency to do extensive further work.

Charity Site Challenge

https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/

Rescued a large, troubled, and complex project after the entire team left weeks before the launch was due.

The project was a large, complex, new site development for a leading charity, enabling them to receive donations of money online for the first time. Their financial projections relied on this eCommerce enablement happening on time. However, the existing development team had left the company abruptly, with no handover notes or materials other than a set of thousands of stories in Mingle.

What I did:

• Quickly onboarded a team of five new developers.
• Managed the client's expectations around the launch date and risks ahead.
• Reset budget expectations with senior stakeholders and the agency board of directors.
• Ran a gap analysis to identify the full scope, what had been completed, and what was left to be done, and replanned the remaining work, obtaining approval from all on this redefined project scope and timings.
• Launched within ten weeks with a pleased client and team.
2021 - 2023

Post Graduate Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching

University of Chester - United Kingdom

2006 - 2010

Master of Business Administration Degree in Technology Management

Open University - United Kingdom

1992 - 1996

Bachelor of Arts (First Class) Degree in English Literature, Psychology

University College Cork - Cork, Ireland

AUGUST 2022 - PRESENT

Associate Certified Coach

International Coaching Federation

MAY 2020 - PRESENT

Professional Agile Leadership (PAL 1)

Scrum.org

MARCH 2020 - PRESENT

Stay Lean with Kanban

LinkedIn

JANUARY 2020 - PRESENT

Scaled Professional Scrum

Scrum.org

MAY 2019 - PRESENT

Professional Scrum Master

Scrum.org

JUNE 2010 - PRESENT

MBA (Technology Management)

Open University

DECEMBER 2006 - PRESENT

Project Management (M865)

Open University

DECEMBER 2005 - PRESENT

PRINCE2 Foundation

Office of Government Commerce

JULY 2005 - JULY 2009

Project Management Professional (PMP)

Project Management Institute (PMI)

Tools

Wrike, Asana, Google Sheets, G Suite, Jira, Trello, Basecamp, Harvest, Miro, Excel 365, Project Management & Work Tracking Tools, Zoom, Slack, Visio, Salesforce, HubSpot, Microsoft Excel, Confluence, Microsoft Project, Microsoft Visio, Podio, GitHub, GitLab, Zeplin, Sketch, Balsamiq, Google Analytics, Auth0, InVision, Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), Optimizely, Figma

Platforms

Google Sites, Monday.com, Omniture, WordPress, Zoho CRM, Drupal 7, Drupal 8, Umbraco

Paradigms

Management, Key Performance Metrics, Agile Software Development, Agile Project Management, Agile, Agile Leadership, Change Management, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Agile Delivery, PMBOK, Agile Workflow, Waterfall Delivery, Lean, Kanban, PRINCE2, Lean Project Management, Scrum, Agile Product Management, Requirements Analysis, B2B, Acceptance Testing, Design Thinking, Team Development, User Acceptance Testing (UAT), Marketplace Platforms

Industry Expertise

Digital Marketing, Digital Agencies, Professional Services, Healthcare, Consumer Products, Higher Education

Other

Process Design, Process Improvement, Process Improvement Project Management, Operations Management, Operations Tools, Documentation, Process Documentation, Client Management, Scope, Scope of Work, Costing, Cost Management, Cost Control, Cost Modeling, Cost Analysis, Cost Reduction & Optimization (Cost-down), Variable Costing, Timelines, Time Management, Project Timelines, Global Team Management, Distributed Team Management, Team Mentoring, Offshore Team Management, Software Development Management, Professional Agile Leadership (PAL), Agile Sprints, Stakeholder Analysis, Stakeholder Management, Stakeholder Engagement, Stakeholder Interviews, Business Processes, Business Process Analysis, Business Plan Consulting, Business Process Optimization, Business Process Refinement, Business Process Management (BPM), Business Process Modeling, Business Process Flow Diagrams, Process Flows, Project Management Professional (PMP), Project Planning, Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), Process Optimization, Web Project Management, Workflow Optimization, Communication, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Hybrid Project Management, Client Delivery Management, Software Project Management, Business, Business Delivery Management, Change Leadership, Management Consulting, Team Building, Structure & Organizational Design, Organizational Leadership, Discovery, Issue Management, Risk Management, Risk, Risk Analysis, Risk Assessment, Pipelines, Process Definition, Resourcing, Resource Management, Resource Allocation, Digital Communication, Communication Management, Cross-cultural Communication, Operational Control, Workflow Tools, Balance Scorecards, Client Relationship Management, Conflict Resolution, Leadership, Agile Transformation, Startups, Remote Work, Remote Team Leadership, Mobile/Web Project Management, Project Management, IT Project Management, Project Budget Management, Agile Coaching, Account Management, Operations, Client Services, Schedule Optimization, Delivery, Project Delivery, Product Delivery, Web, Digital, Web Technologies, Google, Recruiting, Recruitment, Program Management, Agile Program Management, Scope Management, Scheduling, Scheduling Tools, Project Scheduling, Troubleshooting, Project Discovery, IT Projects, Projects, Contract Negotiation, Digital Solutions, Project Rescue, Coaching, Estimations, Project Estimation, Cost Estimation, Line Management, Digital Project Management, Project Management Operations, Teams, Team Leadership, Team Management, Websites, WebApp, Scrum Coaching, Backlog Management, Reporting, Reports, Data Reporting, Business Transformation Project Management, Estimation & Planning, Delivery Management, Staffing, Staff Management & Development, Third-party Management, Dashboards, Onboarding, PRINCE2 Project Management, Performance Analysis, Progress Reporting, Project Reporting, Collaboration, Executive Coaching, Leadership & Coaching, Business Coaching, Career Coaching, Mentorship & Coaching, Enterprise Coaching, User Onboarding, Request for Proposal (RFP), Proposals, Interviewing, Client Interviews, Customer Interviews, User Interviews, Process Analysis, Presentations, Client Presentations, Executive Presentations, Digital Transformation Program Management, Optimization, Business Operations, Opportunity Assessments, Workflow, Vendor Selection, Budgeting, Training, Cost-benefit Analysis, Software Implementation, Agile Practices, Advisory, Innovation, Operational Efficiency Improvement, Complex Problem Solving, Project Scoping, Process Mapping, Organization, Agency, Standard Operating Procedures Development, Small Business, End-to-end Implementation (E2E), System Implementation, Business Process Improvement (BPI), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Business Process Automation, Workshop Facilitation, People Management, Roadmaps, Sprint Planning, Pitch Decks, Automation Tools, Project Coordination, Portfolio Management, Automation, Microsoft Office, Vendor Management, Business Process Re-engineering, Growth, PMO Development, Detail-oriented, Evaluation, Operational Assessments, Project Tracking, Release Management, Certified Project Manager, Web Platforms, Planning, Best Practices, Task Management, Agile Product Delivery, Statement of Work, Relationship Management, Web Applications, Web & Mobile Applications, Project Management & Delivery, Product Development, Governance, Process Modeling, Consulting, Web UX, Objectives & Key Results (OKRs), PMO, Project Management Office (PMO), Business Analysis, Data Analysis, Notion, Zoho, IT Consulting, Google Apps, Prototyping, Training & Training Content Development, Business Development, Mobile, New Business Development, Digital Transformation, Technical Project Management, Technical Program Management, Scrum Master, Discovery Workshops, Compliance, Startup Consulting, Waterfall Methodology, Backlog Grooming, Feature Backlog Prioritization, Mobile Apps, Business Requirements, Finance, Forecasting, SaaS, eCommerce, Product Management, Healthcare IT, GDPR, Global Operations, Large-scale Projects, Financials, Fintech, Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Software as a Service (SaaS), Media, Human Resources (HR), Organizational Structure, Business Strategy, International Commerce, Marketing, Technical Hiring, User Stories, Edtech Design, Process Control, COE, Quality Assurance (QA), Mobile Applications, Technical Product Management, Lucidchart, CRM APIs, Airtable, Axure, Codebase Development, Workbooks API, Microsoft 365, Product Owner, Product Ownership, Requirements, Product Roadmaps, Sitecore, Scrumban, Design Sprints, Product Discovery, Discovery Management, Information Technology, Writing & Editing, Analysis, Scaled Professional Scrum (SPS), Scaling, PSM-1, Databases, Accounting, Web Development, HTML, Email Marketing, User Experience (UX), No-code Development, Strategic Planning & Execution, Auditing, Content Migration, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Event Planning, Biotechnology, User Interface (UI), Project Consultancy

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