The Product Newsletter #45

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) How much responsibility should PMs have for user analytics analysis?

2) People Management while PMing.

3) As non-technical PM, would you rather improve your existing skills or acquire the ones you lack in particular?

Top Learning Resources:

1. Why Your Team Needs a Weekly Metrics Review

2. The 10 Fastest-Growing Apps in 2023 (some will certainly surprise you)

3. Analytics and Product-Market Fit

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Top Discussions

Question 1How much responsibility should PMs have for user analytics analysis?

Hello party planners! Regarding user statistics and product management, I have two inquiries.

  • Do you have an interface that handles user data analysis for you, or how much of it is your responsibility? It would be good to know your title and the size of your company.
  • Do you know of any analytical courses or resources for product management?

I’ve been a PM at a start-up for almost three years, thus I have these questions. We are only now in a situation where we both need and are able to invest in our user data analytics to inform feature development and decisions due to very limited resources. I have little experience with SQL and analysis, therefore I’d like to know

  • how much it is required of a PM to have and use these skills, and
  • what tools are available to me to assist me build them.

To be clear, I believe these are useful skills to have, and I want to study them in any case. Additionally, I just want to be sure I’m making good use of my time as there may be other options (like hiring someone) for filling the gap in our user analytics study.

As a BI/Analytics tool, we now use Looker. Another team is in charge of pushing our user events (as well as other kinds of business data) into Looker, with the goal of providing “non-technical” stakeholders with a single source of information for all of their queries. I’d like to answer some rather complex questions, and this is the skillset gap I’m attempting to close.

A word on how we set up our user event database: We decided long ago to track all user events ourselves while we develop features instead of using a product event tracking vendor because of our healthcare situation. We choose which events are worthwhile recording as part of each feature release, and then the engineers collaborate with our analytics team to agree on name and definition. After that, the analytics team sends the data to Looker.

Your valuable inputs and insights are welcome.

– Bobby Duncan

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Discussion

A] The short answer is yes. You need to understand whether consumers are using your features, whether evidence suggests they like them, and whether there is opportunity for development. If you can’t provide facts to support any claims lower than mere revenue, all you have are people’s opinions or the loudest voices.

The long answer is that you acquire the information you have time to gather. I was shocked to discover that we hadn’t previously collected page views on certain significant features, let alone more useful data, as I am currently working on a project that is defining needs for metrics. So, I’ll have to harass the developers to do some time-consuming queries for me to retrieve the data. I don’t do SQL and doing it right now wouldn’t be a wise use of my time. Therefore, the procedure will be more difficult because someone in the past didn’t ensure that a feature had at least Google Analytics level of analytics. You can sure that one of the tasks we undertake in the future will be to obtain at least basic analytics for each product we implement in order to spare our PMs this kind of suffering.

– David Mercy

B] I’m in charge of it. Despite working in an independent, corporate-sponsored “startup” and holding the position of VP, I currently manage a smaller team. I’d want to have a full ProductOps function, similar to DevOps, with staff members who are more skilled in data science than I am, but that will have to wait for the time being. If necessary, I can rely on the data science and analytics team from a large corporation. My tech lead is also skilled in Tableau and SQL.

However, I only utilise my Pendo dashboard and data explorer tools to look at instrumentation data of what my consumers clicked on. Similar tasks can be accomplished via MixPanel, Amplitude, and Google Analytics. To find out more about what is often done, I would consult the resource that these suppliers publish.

A tip specifically for the healthcare industry: be careful while using these technologies to ensure that PHI isn’t unintentionally captured. We adhered to some of Pendo’s recommended practises in this area.

I wanted to add that Pendo, at least, collects whatever it can see after it is installed in your product. Therefore, you may go back and ask questions regarding clicks, page views, and other things that you didn’t configure in the beginning. This relieves you of a lot of the analytics/data science stress related to “have I thought of everything” Simply deploy the application (Pendo even offers a free entry level tier) and begin answering some of the fundamental questions, such as “which browsers do my users use? understanding that you may look back to the day you implemented the tool in your app to get more advanced later.

– Dianne Stinger

C] The answer to “is the product manager responsible for” Yes is the answer. A product manager is conceptually thought of as the product’s little CEO. To create the finest possible product, you turn into the person who must solve problems.
It’s no longer someone else’s job to analyze data. Practically every position in a firm requires data literacy.

Sorry, but I don’t have a boot camp or course I can recommend. Regardless of the business intelligence product your firm uses, there are probably training films available for you to watch.

– Herbert Warnick

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Question 2) People Management while PMing

I’ve worked in the product industry for six to seven years, and I’m currently a senior product manager at a large company.

No matter how many books, courses, conferences, or YouTube videos I watch about product management, I’ve discovered, it makes no difference. I have researched all strategies and techniques. It makes no difference how sound my reasoning is or how adept I am at solving problems. But the subject of people in product management is something that neither a book nor a methodology can educate.

Unless you have a competent team that works well together and has wonderful internal dynamics no matter what, you can have a terrific product, amazing technology, a solid business plan, and great processes, but these things frequently don’t matter because there are people issues within the team.

There are numerous people-related abilities that you just cannot learn by reading a book, including interpersonal skills, creating a high-performing team, stakeholder management, aligning the team around a vision, dispute resolution, mentoring and coaching, and many other people-related areas. Nowadays, people are the center of everything.

What knowledge or advice do you have to provide on the people aspect of product management?.

– Whitney Chard

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Discussion

A] For me, developing “people skills” begins with understanding what “work” entails for you. This will change the way you perceive the people around you, which will change how others perceive all of your words and deeds. You can be clumsy or socially uncomfortable and things will still work out if they believe you have their best interests at heart. If not, no amount of “people skills” will be able to save those connections.

It’s great that folks in Silicon Valley are passionate about “building cool stuff” and “making an impact,” but there’s a delicate line between saying something is important to you and saying it’s your life’s work. If the latter, then other individuals are by definition only a means to that end in your perspective, and they are aware of that. Serving a purpose greater than the people around us is admirable, but it can also be perverted and lead to a lot of suffering. Elizabeth Holmes is a prime example of this.

For me, I don’t practice religion, but if I’m wrong and I end up in purgatory (or whatever version of purgatory you believe in), St Peter will ask me, “What cool stuff did you build?” If that is the standard for what is good in the world, then the people I most want to spend the hereafter with won’t be there, so I would probably ask to go to hell instead.

But more likely, the questions posed at that gate will be along the lines of: “Did you love the people around you? Did they feel like you cared about them? Were their lives enriched because they spent time with you, or were you just a hurdle they had to overcome? ” I’ve read a lot of books by people on their deathbed, so I’ll probably ask myself these questions near the end.

The other things (what we launch, the metrics we’re attempting to move) are merely there to support that, and for me, work is a place to confront those questions.

You requested advice/insights, so I apologize if this came across as a bit preachy.

– Eva Richardson

B] Some people simply can’t learn how to get along with others, even outside of the field of PM. It depends a lot on the individual and their background and is probably pretty common in the PM world because those who “take matters into their own hands” and are “doers” and other euphemisms for being a control freak are favoured.

Spend a week observing your research or support staff, since I’ve discovered those jobs generally have good empathy and EQ both internally and externally. This is one way to expose oneself to different business areas. They teach us a lot about how to interact with people.

The correct mentor or boss makes a major difference as well. Many fail to teach people-first ideals in their direct reports, despite the fact that this should be a key component of any employee’s development.

Instead of always engaging my more aloof coworkers on work-related topics, I’ve had excellent success in simply chit-chatting with them in the workplace and accepting whatever small talk they’re open to sharing. Getting someone to open up about their interests, family, pets, etc. without being intrusive is a terrific approach to build a stronger personal and professional connection.

Hope this is helpful!

– Dan Coelho

C] I stumbled into working with products early in my career out of necessity. I came to the conclusion that I was the only co-founder who had a thorough understanding of the market we were aiming for.

After around 20 years, I’ve discovered that this is the area of a project where I typically bring the most value, whether it be for a brand in which I have an ownership share, a product being developed for a partner, or a consulting position with a business.

The products which I concentrate on are almost always premium in the context of the segment and always hardware + software (firmware, for sure, but perhaps more).

When advising, I typically put everything up, including the supply chain, pricing, factories, and engineering help from semiconductor vendors.
When I was visiting an important client in California a few years ago, I experienced an epiphany.

I and the executive team had decided on something of a broad concept.
I had two meetings that day with every team, including operations, engineering, marketing, and sales.

The topic of the first meeting was the product. It was an extremely thorough text-based product brief that listed individual features, their advantages, pricing ranges, and general sales channel/positioning information.

Feedback from the second meeting allowed me to vanish and carry out my plan.
I attended each initial meeting. They went very well. There are many good questions.

A study of human perception by accident was conducted during the second round of meetings.

Despite having the same brief, it was obvious that each section had a different conception of the final product. There are occasions when doing so would be fundamentally at odds with the goals and missions of other departments.
All of my product briefs are now heavily visual, and wherever I can, I show up with a mockup to discuss on day one.

This aids in shifting the focus of the product discussion from “what if” to “what’s next”.

According to my experience, starting with a mockup massively accelerates time to market because everyone is uniting around a tangible goal.

– Hannah Borges

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Question 3) As non-technical PM, would you rather improve your existing skills or acquire the ones you lack in particular?

Hello everyone!

I’m considering investing a year in honing my technical knowledge and abilities because I’m a non-technical PM. I haven’t determined how I want to approach this yet. But I’m thinking about doing either self-training or earning MS in Computer Science. However, the more I debate on this, the more I understand that perhaps I should be spending time on really diving deep with my business expertise and finally become the best version of business expert in the PM sector that I could ever be.

This is because, even after a year, I won’t be able to become an expert in technology and be able to handle complicated technical tasks, which, in most cases, I won’t even have to do since I’m a project manager. However, having a lot of ideas swirling in my head I want to be able to create MVP myself and maybe it will grow into a profitable startup someday. All those concepts are currently dead because I am unable to construct them.

Would appreciate your thoughts on this! Thanks.

– Jesus Rojas

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Discussion

A] A MS in computer science is not something I’d recommend. You’d be on the verge of becoming the most hated of PMs: the PM who believes s/he can build the best solution.

Of all the strongest PM’s I’ve known, it was not their technical expertise that made them better. It was their capacity to understand the demands of their clients, find the chances to productize those needs in a way that produces actual value, and communicate that productized answer to a team of professionals who could deliver it.

Keep in mind that PMs specify the Why and the What. Your experts deliver the How.

– Malcolm Sequeira

B] I’d advise taking a beginner’s course on Coursera, Treehouse, Pluralsight, or any of the hundreds of MOOCs available if you’ve never programmed before. To better grasp how software functions and anything relevant to your specific field, you might read one or two high-level books. I think you can stop there if you want to be technically proficient. Read Hacker News, High Scalability, and/or listen to relevant episodes of Software Engineering Radio to keep current.

The ability to recognise new opportunities brought about by technological advancements is crucial for a PM. It’s also crucial to keep in mind that you offer the why, what (and when), and the specialists deliver the how, as other people have mentioned. However, understanding the “how” a little bit better will benefit you in the following ways:

  1. Know new how’s open up
  2. Aid your team’s communication
  3. Aid you in recognizing when you are stepping into the how
  4. Knowing how software is delivered will help you identify any potential vulnerabilities in a team and who you need to enlist for support if you ever find yourself working with a team that isn’t doing well.

– Bina Campos

C] Whether you are technical or not, you are a PM first. Technical know-how is always advantageous, but if you find yourself coding as a PM, you should consider how effectively you are using your time and value.

Get a tech cofounder (if you can’t, that says a lot about your soft or selling talents) or hire a dev house are two options if your ultimate goal is merely to bring your ideas to live. It might be better to build it yourself, but in my opinion, you should spend your time making sure the correct product is made and let someone who is far more qualified handle the construction process.

– Luis Neilson

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Top Learning Resources

A weekly metrics review should be short and sweet (think 5–15 minutes, typically at the start of a regular team meeting) and led by the data person who walks the group through the key metrics for your collective area of work (e.g. new user growth, revenue, conversion rates, tickets resolved).

This is not an overstatement: apps have become an integral part of our daily lives. There are tools to carry out multiple tasks — from design to security, communication, marketing, travel, HR, cloud apps, development, collaboration… the list goes on.

So how to decide which ones are worth our time and attention?

Okta’s recent Business at Work report is a good start.

They have analyzed data from more than 17,000 global customers to point out the Ten Fastest-Growing Apps in the World (by user numbers), with Year-over-Year Customer Growth ranging from 81% to an impressive 172%. We bring you the results!

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?
View learning resources

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