Inside ADP’s Innovation Lab

By Jay Ruffin, Rick Pastore, Roberto Masiero, and Don Weinstein
December 6, 2021
Season 2, Episode 20

The Hackett Group Director Jay Ruffin talks with Senior Director Rick Pastore, ADP Senior Vice President Roberto Masiero and ADP Corporate Vice President Don Weinstein about the evolution of ADP’s Innovation Lab, which has helped drive transformational technology change for the HR management software and services vendor.

Show Notes

Welcome to the Hackett Group’s Business Excelleration Podcast, where – week after week – we hear from experts on how to avoid obstacles, manage detours, and celebrate milestones on the journey to world-class performance. This episode of the podcast, hosted by the Hackett Group’s Jay Ruffin, discusses the rationale for investing in building a sustainable innovation culture and capability, focusing specifically on technology enabled innovation.

ADP has been on a long journey of innovation with the desire to foster a culture which feeds innovation. They decided to take their employees out of the day-to-day delivery operation role and put them in a space where they are motivated to innovate. This new innovation, emerged in October of 2015, was a physical platform for ideation and piloting due to the technology’s processes. Their new lab nurtured a collaborative environment by making it feel comfortable to work and innovate. ADP is spearheading several innovations which are truly changing the user experience.

Joining us today are Rick Pastore, Senior Director of Technology Research for Hackett’s advisory program, Roberto Masiero, Senior VP of ADP’s Innovation Lab and Don Weinstein, ADP’s Corporate Vice President of Global Product and Technology. Both Roberto and Don have been instrumental in initiation, sustaining and transforming the lab at ADP.

As the conversation gets underway, Roberto and Don explain the look and operations of the Innovation Lab. The lab, located in New York, is a physical building boasting about 300 people with fresh perspectives and a startup feel. Here, ADP’s most innovative products are really being pushed. The space is indistinguishable from many tech hubs in Manhattan, but what sets it apart is that its operations go beyond the physical space. The goal was to create an incubation space separate from their typical corporate building to encourage experimentation and collaboration. Leveraging the public cloud, they run the most advanced type of computers needed. Unique to ADP is the data capability to create benchmarks in their own space of human capital management and outwards.

Then, they discuss the different ways the lab has changed since the initial launch in 2015 and the uncertainty regarding the environment in a post pandemic world. In the beginning, the lab made a special effort to hire diverse outside talent. Now, they are home to a mix of people with history with the company balanced with new engineers. When bringing together a combination of market knowledge and forward tech-based thinking, magic happens. ADP Mobile, the first product which came out of the lab, was a breakthrough in the industry as it allowed employees to manage their HR responsibilities in a single app. There are now over 25 million people relying on the app on a daily basis.

Next, Roberto and Don highlight a few of the hurdles faced by the Innovation Lab. Early on, there were some internal rivalries which the team needed to overcome. The toughest stumbling block was figuring out how to merge the cultures together in a way to preserve the strength of each while still capturing synergies throughout. The balance between the experienced and new talent coming in was and still is critical. It was also important to choose the right ambassadors to move between the lab and ADP. Factors to be considered when seeking ambassadors are mindset, drive and passion.

Finally, we hear what’s in store for the suture of the Innovation Lab. Their next generation of payroll and HCM are just starting to come to market and they are hoping to reach a good level of maturity and velocity with them. Then, they will be able to focus on new products and their pipelines. They have only just begun to scratch the surface of the capabilities of data and analytics in HCM.


  • 0:41 – Welcome to this episode, hosted by Jay Ruffin.
  • 2:12 – Welcoming today’s guests, Rick Pastore, Roberto Masiero and Don Weinstein.
  • 2:46 – How does the ADP Innovation Lab look and operate?
  • 6:20 – What kinds of technologies does the Innovation Lab offer?
  • 8:47 – How has the lab changed since the initial launch?
  • 14:30 – Discussing the balance in staffing.
  • 20:00 – Breakthrough products from the Innovation Lab.
  • 22:25 – Discussing returning to the office.
  • 26:18 – Hurdles faced by the Innovation Lab.
  • 36:00 – Formula for finding the right ambassadors.
  • 40:28 – The future of the innovation lab.