People and Culture

How an accidental project manager ensures Zühlke’s delivery excellence

Tuong Tran makes ambitious work achievable through interdisciplinary collaboration. Read more to learn about delivery excellence at Zühlke.

6 minutes to read

  • Explore what delivery excellence means at Zühlke

  • Learn what it takes to ensure true project agility

  • Discover how interdisciplinary teams work together across a variety of sector-specific projects

Tuong Tran, known to colleagues and friends as “Steven,” never intended to have a career as a project manager. He started out as a Data Entry Supervisor, spending his days finding bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas for improvement.

He soon found his knack for process improvement dovetailed perfectly with helping teams achieve Delivery Excellence — the ability to consistently deliver high-quality services and outcomes to our clients on time and within budget. Simply put, it’s about exceeding our clients’ expectations. Consistently.

“That’s when I fell in love with project management. When I realised all of these skills could come together to help empower people to do their best work,” he says.

Although it happened partly “accidentally” at first, Steven found more opportunities to be the bridge between developers and clients. Skills grown through happenstance quickly snowballed. He held various challenging project management roles for over 10 years, working at a digital agency, an outsourcing services company, and a SaaS open platform provider.

Then, he made the move to Zühlke.

“I chose Zühlke because I felt a lot of respect from the company immediately. And I liked that the team in Ho Chi Minh City wasn’t working on outsourcing projects. They communicated directly with customers and contributed to projects across the whole software development lifecycle.”

Steven started at Zühlke only a year ago, and in that time has covered a lot of ground. He’s helped build a culture of delivery excellence across several projects in some of the most highly-regulated industries — healthcare and financial services.

Want to know more about delivery excellence at Zühlke? Keep reading…

Delivery excellence at Zühlke

Innovation lives and dies by good processes. Zühlke depends on delivery excellence leaders, like Steven, to carry our teams from initial vision through to development, deployment, production, and beyond.

What is delivery excellence? At Zühlke, delivery excellence is the practice of continuous customer-focus, process optimisation and cross-team collaboration to achieve the best results in the most effective and streamlined manner.

“It’s about clear communication between our stakeholders, managing expectations, and building trust. It’s also about risk management, preventing costly disruptions.”

According to Steven, the most important part of delivery excellence is adaptability.

“The difference between teams that consistently provide value and achieve successful results and the teams that don’t is adaptability — a culture of continuous learning.”

In a Scrum framework (the Agile methodology Steven uses), adaptability allows teams to respond to changing customer needs or market conditions by adjusting priorities and features during each sprint. It helps developers incorporate feedback from stakeholders and end-users, adjusting their approaches where necessary. And it continually places customer needs at the centre of the project.

These delivery excellence principles equipped Steven to act as a Scrum Master on his very first project at Zühlke: leading a team of six developers across Singapore, Hong Kong, and Vietnam to develop a mobile application and web portal for a leading national clinical provider.

In the next section, we outline two project delivery excellence examples. Keep reading to learn more…

Undertaking projects that set a new standard of success

Learning by doing. That’s the culture of Zühlke. In Steven’s second week at the company, he was asked to lead a project as one of three Scrum Masters to drive delivery excellence within a dynamic, new project.

Bringing together multiple developers across three different countries takes extra care. Singapore Time (SGT) and Hong Kong Standard Time (CST) are an hour ahead of Vietnam Standard Time (VST). So on this large-scale project, which required the quick ramping-up of teams, effective communication depended on the ability to adapt.

There was a risk that Zühlke’s healthcare client wouldn’t receive a consistent experience. So as a protective measure, the Project Leadership Team notified the German team to redesign communication channels from a project-level to team-level.

In the Agile way of working, a team consists of members with cross-functional skills. Making the switch to team-level communication enhanced collaboration, clarified roles, improved transparency, and ensured alignment with project goals.

“It helped me see the power of effective communication, especially on a big engagement like this project. Now we know how to handle the next one.” The Agile tactic put Steven’s team back on track for delivery and fostered a positive relationship with a valuable stakeholder.

Steven brought these lessons in delivery excellence to his next project in the financial services sector. Zühlke in Asia was tasked with developing a Design System as an internal product for an international bank.

The innovation team’s task was to build a foundational design system that could be used — and iterated on — by the client’s internal teams. “We were so tempted to replicate everything we did in the healthcare sector project. But really, we all had to be open to learning new things and even unlearn what might have worked in the past.”

Although the team did follow a few Agile approaches from previous projects, Steven’s focus this time was not on standardising every process, but instead on ensuring every member of the team could be heard.

“At the conceptualisation part of the process, we still had time to explore. And as a leader, I wanted to know that we had tested every idea or approach and really celebrated the diversity of thought that was available to us on the team.”

The result: Steven’s team delivered the first version of the product that was considered "innovative and groundbreaking". The openness to embracing fresh perspectives created a dynamic working environment that culminated in the delivery of a proof of concept that not only met high standards but was satisfying for every innovator involved in the project.

With all these delivery excellence lessons in tow, we asked Steven: what’s next?

An unplanned path to leading project management

Steven’s path to project management was far from conventional: “In a lot of ways I didn’t choose project management, project management chose me”. Now, with each project, Steven continues to hone his skills and build on his innate ability to shape projects, teams, and outcomes.

“Because it’s not uncommon to work on diverse projects for different industries, I have ample opportunity to do different things that leverage my strength in delivery excellence.”

Steven stands as a figure of purposeful leadership at Zühlke. He’s in the process of advancing his project management knowledge with a CAPM certification and is a testament to the remarkable transformation that employees can see when opportunity and intention align.

Employees in this article

  • Tuong

    Tuong Tran

    Expert Project Manager


    Tuong is an experienced Project Manager and has been with Zühlke since September 2022. Prior to this, he has worked in various roles, from Services Delivery Manager, Project Manager, to Scrum Master, with a Swiss leading SaaS Ticketing solution company. His main area of expertise includes project management, process improvement, communication, and cross-functional collaboration. He is passionate in cooperating with people, and being a servant leader.

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