The Five Key Elements of a Product Champion
If you are passionate about making sure people have a smile on their face when they open their payslips, you might have what it takes to become a product champion at ADP.
We spoke to one of our Product Leaders who had years of experience implementing ADP’s product development approach, recently leading the GlobalView Core Payroll product for the APAC market. He shared five elements of our product development framework that helps turn product managers into product champions.
“When I first joined ADP, I had worked in supply chain and fintech for 15 years, but the payroll domain was new to me. As a product manager, I knew that my role was to envision how to build products and what features we needed, but I wasn’t sure how to best understand my end users to do my job better,” the leader said. “Fortunately for me, ADP has a framework that guides the learning and skill-building needed to take a person from a product manager to what I like to call a ‘product champion’—someone who takes ownership of their work, leading products team to make people happier.”
Although our product leader believes each piece of the framework is essential, he highlights two foundational components: passion and empathy. “No one does everything perfectly, but if you have passion and empathy, the following five elements will help you become a product champion,” he said.
1) Speak up for the customer
When developing new products, a product champion needs to put the customers first and advocate for them, especially when there are different ideas on moving forward. It’s common for a product manager to make many decisions on different architecture types and marketing strategies. Since users cannot give feedback at every stage, it helps if the product manager thinks from the customers’ perspectives.
A true product champion understands the users and their pain points. What makes their lives easier? What solutions are available? The goal is to save time and money, helping the customers better serve their employees. The shift in perspective helps solve the customers’ absence in the product-building processes. We are confident that we are solving the right problems when we advocate for the customers along the way.
2) Know the market
In addition to becoming a customer’s advocate, a product champion needs to be a market expert with a solid understanding of the trends and competitors within the space. We design irreplaceable unique strategies our competitors can’t easily copy in the development stages, creating long-term life cycles for our products and businesses. Remember that our products should make us stand apart, and understanding the market helps create this differentiation.
Product managers benefit from the massive amount of data we have here at ADP, enabling real-time understanding of what people want and need. In addition, we hire highly strategic research analysts dedicated to market research. A product champion connects and learns from these experts to benefit from their expertise, pairing qualitative data with quantitative analysis. This extra step helps a product champion paint a complete picture of what’s happening.
3) Zero in on the goal
We measure success by outcomes, whether a single feature or a whole new product. One of the most critical tasks in product management is to track the team’s steps and measure if they will lead to the desired objectives and outcomes. Progress is incremental, but we can increase business awareness and gain more sales and new users while increasing customer satisfaction with it.
How do you track whether 38 million people and 920,000 clients are happy or not? At ADP, we know when our users find and use new features. Even if a new function is three screens deep, we know immediately when clients navigate through them or have problems with the latest features through our deep user research. Product champions look for and understand these choke points, and they use artificial intelligence (AI) and other tools efficiently, monitoring the outcomes of the enhancements.
4) Build teams and consensus along with a product
Every product manager is a builder. Behind the scenes, we evaluate how fast and efficiently our teams are moving. A product champion sits at the center to coordinate engineering teams, ensuring we progress towards the final products and keeps everyone on the same page.
Coordination often becomes challenging when every team member has their vision of an ideal project. The solution to this challenge is what differentiates a product manager from a product champion. A product champion builds consensus allowing the team to work together while delivering what the customer needs.
5) Empathize and influence
Part of the building process is selling the product’s vision and communicating the customer’s pain points to the teams involved. A product manager who has empathy will speak up for customers and build consensus. If you know what makes the customers’ business operations difficult, you can identify their needs and improve their lives by providing better solutions. This approach also applies to internal teams. It’s also crucial to suggest alternatives when an expectation is not feasible.
At ADP, product managers have the opportunity to learn from people with deep expertise who allow us to elevate our work to the champion level. “We can’t quickly draw a line between what’s in our responsibility and what isn’t,” the product leader said. “A product champion claims both success and failure, always looking for improvements.”
Becoming a product manager is a huge commitment, so passion is a deciding factor in hiring. People who are passionate and dedicated will go the extra mile to become product champions. “If you are passionate about making sure people have a smile on their face when they open their payslips, you might have what it takes to become a product champion at ADP,” the product leader said.
Interested in Product Management positions at ADP? We’re hiring!