How to Be Data Driven with Product – SF Talk Night Recap

Nancy Samahito ·

Carbon Five San Francisco hosted Product Talk Night to discuss the importance of being data-driven in software development and product management.

Allie O’Connell, Senior Product Manager from Carbon Five Chattanooga, discussed her personal experiences with product analytics and shared insights on how to effectively align product success metrics with overall business goals.

Opening the discussion, Allie shared key steps product managers can take to create a more data-driven approach, including:

  • Starting with a baseline
  • Tracking the vitals
  • Defining a North Star
  • Defining and prioritizing assumptions
  • Creating and tracking experiments
  • Reviewing and restarting as needed

As Allie walked the audience through each step, she also addressed several assumptions and analytical myths that are often held as truths. A few important points shared during the discussion include the following:

Qualitative data is equally as important as quantitative data.

Numbers are often held as hard facts, but there is no substitute to evaluating the effectiveness of your product and work without one-on-one user interviews. Qualitative data points are just as important and significant to guide both product and business decisions. Understanding qualitative data points can successfully help nurture user growth and strengthen retention.

Your “North Star” will change as your company grows.

The “North Star” data point is the core metric that defines the relationship between customer problems and the revenue the business wants to generate. If you’re a startup, it might be how many client accounts are created via user referrals. If you’re growth stage, it might be how many uploads users are contributing on a weekly basis. Keep in mind that this metric will likely change as your company grows and your product matures. It is the metric you should always be evaluating.

Conduct experiments to validate your assumptions and test new ideas

Constantly staring at data and crunching numbers can quickly become overwhelming. With the array of tools and metrics that are available at your fingertips, it can be easy to feel lost in it all. Focus on baseline metrics you created as the first step in the process. Then keep a prioritized list of assumptions and new ideas to vet and test to move metrics forward.

Analyze, review and restart as needed.

Being data-driven is cyclical. You’ll either be analyzing, experimenting, reviewing or restarting and that’s OK. Keep evaluating your North Star. Remember your goals and evolve your metrics as your product continues to grow.

For more information about the discussion, check out #C5ProductTalk for live tweets from the event. The next SF Talk Night will be co-hosted by San Francisco Design Week on Universal Accessibility in Design on June 26th, RSVP today!

Interested in attending future Carbon Five events? Join the Carbon Five Meetup group to receive alerts on all upcoming Talk Nights and events hosted in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chattanooga, New York and Seattle.