Product Champion vs a new tool: how not to fail at implementation stage?

The implementation of a new tool is a success when all the people involved can cooperate and work together. That can be guaranteed not only by the provider's representatives, but also a Product Champion on the customer's side of the business. But who really is a Product Champion and who could become - and should - become one?

Arkadiusz Terpiłowski

Co-Founder

Project Management

18/6/2022

Product champion

Table of contents

Who is the Product Champion?

According to the simplest definition, a Product Champion is a person from the company interested in a given solution which is responsible for choosing and successfully implementing a tool. 

In general, he acts as a company’s representative, and he handles all the communication, decisions, and processes related to the product. By definition, he should define the essential requirements, stay in touch with the interested parties and drive the change by making decisions and adapting processes. 

But what does it really mean? 

What are the responsibilities of a Product Champion? 

In short, a product champion participates in all the activities resulting in a choice and implementation of a new tool. In most cases, they are formed into a smooth process that includes all the activities: from the initial analysis, to the implementation of a new tool. 

Responsibilities of product champion

Who should become a Product Champion for your business? 

Project Champion acts as a connection between company and provider; as a result, he is responsible for the success of a new tool. Therefore, his actions cannot be left to chance - he needs to have specific characteristics that will help him succeed. Those include: 

A reputable position in the company. A Product Champion cannot be an intern or a newly recruited specialist. Preferably, he should be a manager or a C-level executive with significant experience in the business. He should also know how to communicate with other managers and interested parties to successfully determine their needs. In other words, he should know how to solve or know who to go to with every single issue he discovers on his way. 

Access to the data in the company. Implementation of a new tool requires a large-scale data flow. However, not everyone in the company has access to them and the ability to share them with the third party. A Product Champion should have such an option at all times! 

Understanding the processes. The company has dozens of processes - and the Product Champion should be aware of them all. That’s because he is responsible for identifying key issues and opportunities that should be reflected in the new tool. 

Identifying the parties interested in the tool within the organization, i.e., management, board, and employees, and identify their needs. His knowledge of their perspective will enable him to verify whether the processes can be reflected accurately in Primetric. 

Will to drive the change. Some people stick to the old ways because they just find them familiar, not because they understand the processes behind them. If a person understands the origin of data, they are open to improvements and new possibilities offered by a new tool and benefit from new, better indicators. 

Soft skills. As a Product Champion is responsible for both internal and external communication, he needs to address the use cases and understand the provider’s point of view at the same time. He also has to be flexible and persuasive to satisfy the needs of both sides involved in the implementation. Additionally, fluency in English is a must in the case of international implementation. 

Position of the Project Champion - who should become one? 

In general, a Project Champion should be either a manager or - even better - a C-level executive. In general, Project Champion can be: 

  • a delivery officer, 
  • a CEO, 
  • a COO, 
  • Internal Project Managersuppose the company in question struggles with finnces, wants to improve profitability and control billings and wages. In that ca
  • CFO,
  • another high-level manager.

However, the list is still long - then how to make a choice? 

It depends on the company and its primary use cases that need to be defined before a Product Champion is chosen. 

For example, if the company in question struggles with finances, and wants to improve profitability and control billings and wages, it should choose someone with experience in finances for a Product Champion - for example, a CFO. 

If the company focuses on allocations, growing benches, and increasing the number of experts with different specializations, its COO should be considered as a candidate to become a Product Champion. However, if the company wants to manage its project effectively with the new tool, it should nominate an Internal Project Manager for the role. 

In some cases - usually in large companies - there are people employed as professional Program Managers. Their task is to introduce new products and crucial organizational changes and improve its processes. If there’s such a person in your organization, he should naturally become a Product Champion. 

What does one need to become a Product Champion? 

Being a Product Champion is not only about skills and characteristics - it’s mostly about knowledge and resources. There’s no place for missing info here - Product Champion needs to have all of the following things:

Product champion skills
  • time to spend on choosing the tool. C-level executives and managers tend to be preoccupied with numerous duties. However, a Product Champion should have time to act as such; a person who struggles with his current responsibilities will not perform a detailed analysis, will not understand crucial processes and, as a result, he will not choose a tool tailored to the company’s needs. 
  • knowledge of internal structure and processes (planning, finances, etc.). A Product Champion should understand how his company works. If he doesn’t, he won’t be able to reflect these processes in the tool he is about to choose, making the work harder for all the employees in the company. 
  • ability to identify the users of the system and access levels necessary. A tool may be helpful for developers, testers, managers, HR, executives, marketing, and dozens of other groups of interest. A Product Champion should determine who can really benefit from the software, and what features that involves.

Key steps for successful evaluation and implementation

Stage 1. Determining the key objectives for a prospective tool. 

Blind pick is not an option for choosing a tool for your company. Before a Product Champion goes on to make his choice, he should first perform an exploratory analysis of the features that his company really needs to have in its prospective tool. 

To do so, he should: 

  • analyze the processes in the company, 
  • determine the crucial issues and bottlenecks in the processes, 
  • interview all the parties interested in using the tool in the future, 
  • browse the available data to discover any other issues that may have been omitted earlier. 

These actions have only one goal - to create a list of use cases for the provider to use during implementation. 

A use case is a specific situation in which a product or service could potentially be used. In other words, a list of use cases contains all the problems, processes, scenarios, and moments in which a new tool will come in handy. It should include the perspective of all the stakeholders - only then it can help the provider to remove the bottlenecks in crucial processes. 

Importantly, the list of use cases does not have to include only the most important scenarios. In fact, it is advisable to divide the list into a few categories with different levels of significance. For example, you can mark some features as must-have, nice-to-have, or simply omittable.

Based on the list of use cases, you can easily set priorities for the implementation and choose the tool tailored to your needs. 

We analyze this part of the process in detail in our article on how to choose a project scheduling tool - feel free to browse our advice there! 

Stage 2. Testing a limited number of potentially useful solutions. 

There are dozens of tools available on the market, but there are only a handful of those that a chosen company may find useful. 

Based on the analysis performed in Stage 1, a Product Champion should be able to create a list of solutions that meet his company’s requirements. However, he should not limit himself to the theoretical approach; in this part of the process, he should try out the tools or, even better, book a demo to see its full potential presented by its creators. 

Thanks to such a proactive approach, a Product Champion will be able to choose the solution that fits his company best and rule out the ones that are somehow lacking. 

However, if there are more than just a few people in the company involved in the decisionmaking process, a Product Champion is also responsible for gathering their opinions and converting them into a single choice. That may be his greatest challenge in the job - the meeting with the provider is just a beginning in such a case! 

Stage 3. Discussing the details with the provider. 

If your Product Champion and all the other interested parties have already made their choice regarding the right tool, it’s time to jump into action and prepare for its implementation with the provider. 

At this point, the Product Champion should not hold back any information from the provider. He should clearly communicate his company’s needs, explain any arising issues and point to any matters that he finds concerning or necessary. 

In general, Product Champion should provide the tool’s creators with: 

  1. Requirements from different target audiences.
  2. List of use cases - they can later be used for test scenarios. 
  3. Introductions of key managers and stakeholders. 
  4. Key data acting as a base for use cases. 
  5. Any relevant feedback. 

However, this should not be a one-sided conversation. A Product Champion should be open to adjusting the processes within the company to the tool, as well as making any changes that might be necessary during the implementation. He should also handle all the communication between the parties to ensure that all the key issues are effectively conveyed to the other side. 

Stage 4. Implementation. 

The implementation stage may differ depending on the type of tool and scope of work involved. However, the differences still require extensive help from Product Champion. 

At this point, a Product Champion should: 

  • regularly meet with the provider to monitor the progress of work, 
  • share the necessary data with the provider and oversee its import to the new system, 
  • gather the use cases, issues and problems that should be addressed in the tool, 
  • analyze other needs of the organization that should be included in the new tool (i.e. roles, accesses, responsibilities, etc.).

What are the consequences of choosing the wrong Product Champion? 

Right now, you already know who a Product Champion should be. But what if he does not meet the requirements above, or a company simply does not want to choose him from its ranks?

Well, in that case such a company may face unpleasant consequences - both financial and organizational. These include: 

  1. Abandoned or delayed implementation. Product Champion needs to be a driving force behind the implementation of the tool; without his will and engagement, neither of the stages of the process can be completed. The responsibilities will not be assigned to one person and, as a result, they will not be addressed, causing the project to be delayed or abandoned. 
  2. Limited communication. Implementation requires a two-way information flow between customer and provider. Without it, the tool will not be adjusted to the needs of the organization, and arising issues will not be addressed. 
  3. Missing use cases in the tool. A software is chosen in response to particular problems and situations. Without Product Champion, they cannot be identified, and, therefore, reflected in the tool accurately. Consequently, the tool simply won’t live up to users expectations. 
  4. Incorrect processes. Every company has its own ways that need to be included in a new tool. Their identification and description is a responsibility of a Product Champion. His absence may cause chaos in numerous researches in different teams and departments and, therefore, inaccurate conclusions and incorrent processes in the tool. 
  5. Omitted needs of one or many interested parties. A single tool can be used by different teams, departments and specialists - and Product Champion needs to find them all and identify their needs. Without it, the tool may simply not be used to its fullest extent, wasting time and resources. 

Seamless implementation? Choose Primetric! 

The role of Project Champion is not an easy one - but it can be made easier by choosing the right provider. 

Our quick implementation methodology allows our customers to complete the implementation in just a few weeks, with all the use cases included in the tool. You can also count on our constant support and excellent communication praised by many of our customers, including itCraft

And that’s just the beginning of our journey. Thanks to the quality of our tool, over 95% of our customers have decided to stay with us for many years. You can find out why in our case studies

Sounds good? Then do not wait any longer - book a demo and see the power of Primetric in action!

Arkadiusz Terpiłowski

Co-Founder

Arkadiusz is Head of Growth and Co-founder at Primetric. Prior to that, Arkadiusz was at the helm of his own software development company where he oversaw operations. A great enthusiast of process improvements, his personal mission is to make software companies more profitable and efficient on their path to growth.

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