For any modern SaaS business, it’s vital that data become central to the way products are managed.
Without it, we’re left with no clear way to prioritize roadmaps, no way to understand customer/user sentiment, un-earth latent needs, nor clearly communicate value.
So how can product managers ensure that data becomes an actionable, foundational component of their business? Here are some starting tips:
Use Data To Find Hidden User Pains
The average SaaS product experience is far from experience-centric – only 37% of B2B SaaS products boast a frictionless signup journey, and a similar number don’t greet new users with a welcome screen. And when the experience isn’t central to your product? Say goodbye to user engagement. PMs can utilize data to identify two distinct types of user pains:
- Experience bottlenecks that are hurting engagement and maybe compelling users to switch to a competing product
- Product possibilities that users may or may not be aware of, where a competing player might have a first-mover advantage
You can initiate a culture of feedback where users regularly answer a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey, giving you insight into how likely they are to recommend the product to others. This unearths valuable information around customer loyalty, helping you nip churn risk right at the bud.
Apart from NPS, analytics can help map and mine product usage patterns to reveal the most critical areas of engagement, bottlenecks, and untapped possibilities.
Use Data To Make Smart Decisions and Prioritize User Jobs
Once you’ve identified your users’ primary pain points, prioritizing them into a coherent roadmap is the next big ask.
Research from our friends at ProductPlan reveals that the #1 challenge for PMs is product development prioritization and sprint planning, which is virtually impossible to do without data.
The absence of sufficient insights and a clear roadmap direction lead to 35% of PMs having to deprioritize their backlog every week.
Advanced product analytics help streamline roadmap prioritization, highlighting which features have the biggest impact on the customer journey and are, therefore, the most urgent priority.
By correlating meaningful product analytics KPIs, PMs can recreate the user journey to identify what intervention is required (and at which step). Equipped with the necessary interventions and pain points to address, PMs can:
- Start with unweighted scorecards that assign unquantified KPIs like value, cost, complexity, risk, effort, etc., to each feature
- Bolster this with a weighted scorecard where user, customer, and developer feedback informs a percentage score for each KPI
- Meet with stakeholders on the value chain (customer success, deployment teams, etc.) to confirm the scorecards and finalize prioritization
Become a Data-Driven Communicator
Analyzing and assigning weightage is only one first step towards making data work for product teams.
PMs must effectively communicate roadmap details and the “why” behind it all to get buy-in from other key stakeholders along the value chain.
A good communicator is someone who, with a keen focus on business growth, can convince others of roadmap priority, drive speedy development, and enable on-time delivery.
It’s no surprise, then, that the report we mentioned above found communication to be the #1 skill for Product Managers. Yet 4 in 10 PMs feel just average about the efficacy of their communication process, which is often attributed to varying levels of technical knowledge and data literacy amongst product teams.
Despite a growing appetite for data, pure-play data science isn’t something that piques everyone’s curiosity. That’s probably why HBR found a gap between popular opinion and actual implementation: 86% of enterprises agree that it’s “very important” to extract value from existing data resources, but only 30% believe that they’ve been “very effective” in achieving this.
To avoid confining product data to an ivory tower, PMs need to communicate via data storytelling by:
- Preparing the UX for non-technicals by complementing concrete data with DataViz best practices
- Visually representing the roadmap for faster adoption from sales, marketing, customer success, and other teams
- Getting buy-in for roadmap priorities from (even non-technical) senior management by narrativizing the product’s value proposition
- Personalizing data stories to align different teams and stakeholders towards a shared goal
- Offering a sneak-peek of data capabilities so that customers and prospects “crave” the insights that only you are capable of delivering
There are sooooo many benefits to establishing a data-driven business foundation . This article is just the start.
No matter how good a product is, success is virtually unobtainable without leveraging the data within it, both internally for your team and externally for your users.
Read more about being a data-driven product manager at Toucan Toco.