Developing Analytical Skills as a PM

Welcome to our Product Newsletter, a biweekly email highlighting top discussions, and learning resources for product managers.

What We Will Cover In This Edition:-

Top Discussions: 

1) Becoming more “analytical”, is it difficult for a PM?

2) Do you think Product Management is a “Real” Career?

3) How do you communicate effectively with stakeholders about product decisions and updates?

Top Learning Resources:

1. Product case study — Enhancing Google Pay

2. Analytics and Product-Market Fit

3. All Frameworks: Product Manager Interview Questions

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Top Discussions

Question 1Becoming more “analytical”, is it difficult for a PM?

I’ve been constantly hearing that I could be more analytical throughout the last five years of my job. Although I’ve always been confident handling and manipulating data, I believe it’s been challenging to translate that data into useful ideas.

Next week, I’m switching careers to become a product manager, so I wanted to get some insights from you guys on how to become more proficient in this field.
Any suggestions are welcome?

– Bethany Grey

Discussion

A] The key, in my opinion, is to use statistics to support your conclusions.
We’re taking this action because it will lengthen usage time by Y%.

Our user discovery revealed that 60% of our consumers value B more than A, although we now spend 80% of our engineering time on A. As a result, we will increase our investment in B.

I must admit that there are situations when data is not required to get conclusions that are blatantly clear, but providing evidence increases its credibility significantly. When you provide numbers, people take you more seriously.

– Rohit Kumar

B] The next time you write a proposal, look it over and make sure everything makes sense. There are no established facts; everything could be false. Start by identifying the most dubious claims and providing evidence for them. Then, add your facts to your plan and revise it in light of what you discovered.

Spending all of your time seeking to disprove yourself is a sign that you have mastered the art of work not done. There are occasions when you’ll realize you made a mistake and shouldn’t complete the task. Sometimes you’ll be able to articulate how the work will effect your North Star Metric and zero down on which aspects of it will matter the most because you’ll have already shown to yourself that it will.

– Gary Houston

C] Treat your upcoming project proposal like a college research paper, if just as an exercise. Links to inquiries from whichever business intelligence platform your organization employs should be used to support all of your claims. Reference your sources.

That should force you to become more proficient with the toolchain used by your organization and give you the reflexes to constantly be looking for data.
It’s not usually the end of the world if you can’t refer to particular proof to support a claim, but you should be aware of it. Understand and be clear about the risks you’re taking (or asking your audience to accept).

I find that after doing that a few times, people just assume that if I’m saying something, it must be credibly anchored in data. Of course, that’s overkill in many contexts, and few people will actually click through to check your research.
Bonus points: Since leaders are the ones who will most likely examine your citations, you have the opportunity to win their favor on a budget.

– Kane Morgan

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Question 2) Do you think Product Management is a “Real” Career?

I recently attended a PM meetup, and I received a lot of backlash when I asserted that being a PM is not a predefined profession like being an accountant, lawyer, or developer, and that instead, we are expected to “be like a liquid that fills in the spaces wherever needed” and that this varies from company to company and even from division to division.

My point of view is that we are meant to be “jacks of all trades” who concentrate on what brings the most value to the company, and that this can change from time to time and place to place. This was thought by some (including some high profile Product Directors) as being defeatist and leading to poor product development. So what are your thoughts?

– Elvin Henriques

Discussion

A] Does any profession have a set definition?

I worked as an engineer for many years, performing various tasks that aren’t often associated with engineers. Why? Because there existed a need and no one was willing, able, or accessible to fill it.

– Mario Romero

B] It’s a ridiculous question, as has been said by others.

What you said has some weight because, in most cases, it is up to us to ensure that the product is accurate, delivered on schedule, etc. Since we are most at risk for product failure, it is most expected of us to go above and beyond the call of duty to succeed (within reasonable limitations).

Regardless of how extensive our overall responsibilities as PMs are, I’m not a tax accountant, a lawyer, or anything else. I must yield to those who are authorities in their fields. You can push, test, or question them, but the engineers and they are the experts. In a good company, an accountant shouldn’t just coast along; they should also be alert to problems that lie on the edge of their knowledge, searching for creative solutions to concerns, etc.

I believe you are purposefully causing a commotion. Respect the knowledge of others, gain their respect via your own knowledge, and maintain your humility.

– Malcolm Sequeira

C] A builder builds a building that someone thought it was a good idea to build, someone else submitted the idea to relevant authorities, someone else designed, someone else signed off budget for, someone else approved the whole project, etc. It seems to me that you’re considering none of the jobs involved before a builder starts laying bricks “real jobs”, and more broadly, none of the roles related to strategy, authority, decision making, “real jobs”, as if only people with tactical, strictly making-related responsibilities have one.

It’s true that our daily tasks might be quite different from company to company, even team to team, or previous iteration to current iteration of a single company, but none of this has anything to do with a profession being a real profession.

– Tina Greist

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Question 3) How do you communicate effectively with stakeholders about product decisions and updates?

At a small company without any formal product management, we’re trying to implement product management procedures. Throughout the various product management and NPD processes, such as developing a business case, MRD, PRD, Product Roadmap, etc., multiple stakeholders from various departments are involved. But how exactly should disputes between stakeholders be resolved? Currently, the stakeholders (department heads) must give their approval at each level of the NPD.

The PM is the head of the marketing department, hence they currently have an equal amount of decision-making authority to that of the other department leaders.

In most organizations, does the PM normally have more authority to make decisions pertaining to products?

Who normally makes the final decision when stakeholders are unable to agree?

Who at your company ultimately decides which products to sell? What happens during the decision-making process?

What happens when multiple stakeholders disagree?

How is this usually handled, I wonder?

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

– Fergus Xavier

Discussion

A] Final judgement belongs to the P&L holder for that business line. People typically realize that product comes first among equals, therefore we’ll make the decision before a disagreement is resolved by the P&L leader. I do not manage a business that is consensus-oriented and requires buy-in from all stakeholders.

Actually, it’s quite difficult to split that alliance as long as product engineering and sales are on the same page. These three groups represent the business’s growth engine, and I’ve seen numerous shared service CEOs try to sabotage them in the past.

If the PM doesn’t have the last say, that is a cultural issue. Nothing further. Because of their sheer quantity, services predominated the roadmap in the consensus-oriented strategy that I inherited. Within a year, product had taken over with an iron but soft fist, and we had begun growing our top line while reducing costs.

– Damian Marshall

B] This applies to our company also. Product has almost complete discretion, but in a significant disagreement, the P&L owner and product must reach a VP-level agreement. Since they control the budget that product receives, the P&L owner might theoretically reduce strategic funding.

However, we have strategic planning that is in line with the market plans even if they are not aligned at the project level.

Then, we have important stakeholders, such as the legal or ethical communities, who essentially have a degree of veto power over our roadmaps.

– Heather Kurtz

C] Depends on company culture. Set a precedent – especially one for handling HiPPOs. The Highest Paid Person’s Opinion (HiPPO) problem occurs when decision-making is dominated by the highest ranking (or most senior member), even if their views are not entirely objective.

– Maria Wilson

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Top Learning Resources

Google pay is a digital payments platform that makes it easy for it’s users to send and receive money from anywhere in the country. It’s one of India’s leading payment platforms most famous for them facilitating UPI transactions in India. They also have a bunch of other offerings such as paying various bills, splitting bills, buying gold and much more.

Analytics and Product-Market Fit

When developing new products, the big question we seek to answer is, “Does this product have product-market fit?” We are constantly experimenting with new and exciting products and features as we aim to better address people’s diverse needs and provide them with more value.

However, as we introduce new products and features, we must also hold ourselves accountable to a high bar of product quality. To use a Silicon Valley motto, are we building something people want?

Analytics plays a central role in addressing this question. Doing so fits squarely within our core principle of bringing an independent voice and analytical perspective into decision-making.

All Frameworks: Product Manager Interview Questions

Sometimes what we assume it is not necessary that the interviewer also thought the same, that is the reason you have to ask a lot of questions before you provide the solution. If you directly jump into the solution, then you are a solution-oriented person which is not a good sign of a great product manager. Adequate diagnosis is the first step towards a successful outcome. You can ask the following question to the interviewer in order to be aligned with the interviewer.

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