What kind of data and inputs should I be collecting?

Product managers can’t do anything do anything without data. And they should not.

Without data, you can’t make a hypothesis. Without a hypothesis, you can’t run a test. And if you can’t test your changes, you have no way to prove you’re doing anything worthwhile.

Without proper data and inputs, you’re in danger of setting up entire teams to work on projects without a clear purpose.

The only kinds of decisions you should be making are data-driven decisions - so insist on collecting the following (and get creative if you can!):

  • Ideas - Ideas can come from anywhere. You might formally collect them at meetings, but they also happen in those off-the-cuff remarks between meetings or in your #random Slack channel. (If you use ProdPad, you can set up a hashtag to send an “#idea” straight into your system.)

  • Usage analytics  - What customers tell you is usually very different from what customers actually do.  Knowing how users are actually behaving within your product will help you hunt for those discrepancies. Tools that you might want to look into: Kissmetrics, MixPanel, Nalpeiron, Customer.io and Frontleaf.

  • Customer Feedback - Customer feedback adds context to your numbers. It’s not a metric in itself, but this qualitative data helps you pick up on details data can’t give you. These comments will also help you slowly build the business case for your future product decisions.
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