An essential role here at Cascade is that of the Product Manager. They have their ear to the ground and are the linchpin between our software developers and our clients. So what does an average week in the life of a Product Lifecycle Manager entail? Polly Price, Cascade’s Payroll Specialist shares her experiences with us.
The week starts with our first daily development ‘stand up’ – a quick-fire opportunity for our payroll and HR software specialists to summarise the technical work they completed on Friday, before looking at their tasks for the day ahead. This ensures we all know what tasks our colleagues have to tackle, and it allows us to transfer payroll or software-specific knowledge and ideas, if we think we can help.
The rest of my day is spent digesting notes from the prototype launch of our new average holiday pay functionality. We unveiled this at a client user group last month, and invited comments from our customers. We’ve spent months refining what we think the technology should do and how, but we need to be certain it is delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible in the ‘real world’. This client insight, coupled with feedback from an employment law specialist, is invaluable prior to roll-out.
We conclude our day with a manager’s meeting, so we are in the loop about company-wide development.
I’m in Manchester today for a product owner’s course. The methodology will help me steer the ongoing development of our payroll technology and our ability to remain flexible. This is crucial given how quickly the landscape changes.
I catch up on some HMRC reading on the train back, before ending my day with a call to one of Cascade’s product consultants. A client has a more complex payslip requirement that needs further configuration, so we work through how the software can best uphold their request. By the end of our short session we’ve devised a way for everything to be automatically filed into the client’s general ledger at the end of every pay period. Before I know it, I’m home for some family time.
My goal today is continuous improvement. Client research shows our latest browser-based payroll technology has been very well received, so I want to share this success with the people behind the innovations. But then we have to think about ‘what next’.
We spend the day brainstorming ways to refine things, such as the speed of the system and user navigation to key fields. We dial our account managers in to share some of their thoughts too – all of their time is spent with clients so they usually have some great insight to share, plus it’s great to catch up with them as I used to have the same role. Then we move on to our Change Laboratory – a facility which analyses software usage statistics, legislative forces, client suggestions and our developers’ technical foresight. This is where ideas for new payroll functionality come to life.
We conclude by planning some routine bug fixes to the web based payroll software.
I have an early start today, as I’m travelling to London for a British Computer Society meeting. As this is the Chartered Institute for IT, it is important that our integrated payroll and HR technology evolves in line with BCS best practice. The seminars and forums prove really interesting, especially the legislative update, and I leave with plenty to debrief the team on.
Given I’m in the capital I make best use of my time and pop in to see a couple of clients. We have customers located throughout the country but I’m typically office based so don’t have much chance to visit them. However, it’s interesting to see how they’re using our software, when the opportunity arises. Both are very welcoming. One, a law firm, shows me how their HR and payroll teams are working more closely together and using the system to tackle Shared Parental Leave requests and remuneration among their workforce. I make some notes in case this would make an interesting webinar theme for our marketing team.
I start a little earlier than normal today, to give me time for an extended lunch with a colleague. I haven’t really seen her since our company trip to York Races over the summer, so we’re well overdue a catch up.
I knuckle down, beginning with my usual email inbox cleanse, before arranging my travel for the CIPP Annual Conference in Wales. Cascade is exhibiting there, but I’m attending as a delegate. Then it’s time for our end-of-week stand up. I take the opportunity to summarise some of my key findings from yesterday’s BCS visit, and schedule a meeting next week to go through things in more detail. I’ve picked up some additional inspiration that I think will feed into our continuous improvement process, and I’m excited to share it.
After my lunch I deliver a staff session on auto re-enrolment, as some of our clients are now at this stage of the pensions reform. It’s important we’re equipped to tackle any new needs that they have the second time around. Then I’m out the door, ready to tackle the Friday traffic! I can’t believe another week has flown by.