Thomas Edison once said, “vision without execution is hallucination”. And at Pinwheel our implementation managers partner with our customers - from fintechs to large financial institutions - to ensure their amazing ideas, strategy, and vision are brought to life. In this conversation, Liz Jacobs, an experienced Implementation Manager at Pinwheel walks us through how we continuously surprise and delight our customers through the process of implementing our payroll data connectivity APIs. Liz talks through our consultative approach and how new Pinwheel products have been built out of customer needs from implementations.
Q: Liz, I’d like to first get started with hearing about your background. I know you have a lot of prior implementation experience across industries and company size.
A: Well, I’ve been in implementation almost my entire career. I first worked at a Benefits/HR platform, helping small to midsize companies with implementation. From there I moved to a data aggregation company working on implementation for the government. Most recently, I was at ADP for 5 years implementing payroll and HR for their national enterprise level accounts. While at ADP I received a few certifications, PMP, PHR, SHRM-CP.
Q: That experience translates perfectly to being here at Pinwheel, a payroll API. Can you talk to me a bit about how implementation works here?
A: The implementation here is not just implementation at all. We offer a consultative approach when working with customers. Our customers tell us how they want the Pinwheel product to work with their app, what their goals are, and we provide guidance and recommendations to help each customer on a case by case basis. Because we have years of experience with customers of all sizes, we are able to help new customers by learning from the past and building best practices into our daily work. For example, if customers want to build their own platform search functionality, we are able to easily assist and provide guidance on what payroll providers and employers are the most searched.
Q: And what does the whole process look like for a customer?
A: After a customer has officially signed, we hold a kickoff call that includes all the key stakeholders at Pinwheel and the customer. On this call we go over the timeline, the specific use cases the company has, and the goals of the company. The implementation timeline is broken down into three key phases, 1) Scoping 2) Design and Build 3) Production. During all three phases we meet regularly to discuss everything from what endpoints they want to call, how they’ll use the data, what they want the design to look like, and more. During each phase the goal of our approach is to be consultative and provide continuous guidance and feedback. Our implementation team also meets regularly with product and engineering, ensuring our team is constantly hearing directly from customers to help shape future products.
Q: What if the customer is facing issues during implementation?
A: As with any implementation, there will always be things to work through but our goal is to provide resolution as quickly as possible. We provide our customer access to three environments to encourage thorough testing opportunities as they integrate with Pinwheel - Staging, Development, and Production. To ensure a smooth implementation, we work closely together to plan the rollout phases, test webhook delivery, QA the flow, and monitor the launch. We closely track progress along the way, troubleshoot immediately, and stay closely connected both during the launch and after. We actually recently had a customer decide last minute that they wanted to utilize a customization that required development work. So to help ensure their needs were met, we had design, product and engineering teams all come together and complete the release for this customer within a day of the initial request!
Q: What happens after launch?
A: After launch is when the fun really begins! An account manager will take over about a month after launch as our customer transitions out of implementation. We ensure a smooth transition by keeping the account manager up to date on the progress of the implementation. The account manager then works with the customer to talk about conversion, metrics, and any other goals they might have. We don’t expect our customers to look at the data and understand immediately what's best, so we offer continuous help throughout the entire journey with regular check-ins and quarterly business reviews where we share trends and learnings. Reviewing metrics regularly allows us to identify potential improvements, make recommendations and give feedback to our customers on ways they can utilize Pinwheel to better reach their end goals!
For example, in a recent quarterly review meeting we walked through a customer's direct deposit switching promotion strategy. We were then able to offer concrete guidance on how to improve the strategy and increase conversion.
Q: You mentioned that product and engineering teams are involved with implementation. Is this a typical process most companies follow?
A: It’s actually something special we do here at Pinwheel that I haven’t seen much in the past! Our team is always interested in learning from our customers by hearing their goals and listening to what they're looking or asking for. This allows us to continue to build new features and products to support our customers. Ultimately, because of this, we are able to make better decisions based on customer feedback. We don’t build what we think a customer might want, we build what they actually want. It’s actually helped us shape a number of products!
Q: That's very interesting! What big products have come out of implementations?
A: Quite a few actually! One example came from helping a company implement a version of earned wage access; we realized quickly how difficult it was to implement and from there decided to build an entire product to help our customers better understand income data. Pinwheel Earnings Stream was developed entirely out of a new use case we realized was important for our customers.
Another example is Link No-Code. We learned that some customers - particularly large banks and enterprise customers desired a low lift proof of concept approach with zero engineering requirements. Link No-Code can be deployed in days with no engineering effort. In both of these cases, the feedback loop between implementation and our product/engineering teams have resulted in new and improved product offerings to our customers!
Q: Do we provide our clients with additional resources?
In addition to our API documents which are extremely intuitive and comprehensive, we’ve also started to do marketing and design consultations. We get lots of questions about how to best market and message direct deposit switching to end users, so we created a guide to help and share with all of our customers. This quarter we will also be building out a resource center for our customers in implementation. It will be a place they can go and easily have questions answered as well as download a ton of helpful resources. Stay tuned for more…
Get in touch with us to learn more about how Pinwheel helps to set our customers up for success through our consultative approach to implementation.