Product management is part science and part art. Product managers are maniacally focused on taking a compelling product to market and driving adoption. In doing so, they often rely on their inherent knowledge of the product and the industry. However, this is changing; product managers are amping up the science part of the equation with a greater focus on using data to create and launch new products. A systematic, data-driven approach allows product managers to supplement their intuition with data and leverage “sense and respond” processes in driving key decisions.

A typical product management lifecycle involves the following steps:

Each of the steps that product companies must go through to build and launch successful products can be informed by data. For products to be successful, companies need to focus on driving acquisition, adoption, expansion and, in case of SaaS products, renewals as well. There is a multitude of data that is associated with each of these focus areas. The broad categories of data that aid the product charter are:

1. Voice of Customer Data: As companies are becoming more customer centric, they are institutionalizing the way they capture customer needs via quantitative and qualitative methods.

2. Product Usage Data: Products are increasingly being instrumented to capture usage data covering both activated licenses as well as feature adoption within the product.

3. Sales/Orders Data: Typically, this can be pulled out from the CRM system leveraged by the company.

4. Support/Services Data: Support and services groups keep a pipeline of requests and issues on a per customer basis. This also typically covers the status of the request / issue and the time for completion and resolution.

5. Customer Feedback Data: Companies track customer sentiment by capturing overall Net Promoter Score (NPS) or transactional customer satisfaction scores (CSAT).

Once companies have identified the data and metrics that they want to capture and monitor, the insights from the data can help shape key product decisions. Let’s take the specific scenario of a company with an established product portfolio that is launching a new adjacent product. An illustration of the specific kinds of insights that would be helpful in informing specific product lifecycle phases is laid out below.

Although the specific data and the nature of insights will vary across companies and products, companies need to have a deliberate strategy around leveraging data in developing, commercializing and improving products. Product managers who successfully leverage data focus on:

  • Instrumenting the product/process to gather pertinent customer and product data
  • Developing a data strategy to monitor and analyze the data captured to derive key customer and product insights
  • Supplementing the art of product management with an intentional approach towards the science by leveraging the insights and incorporating them into the decision-making process


Should you wish to discuss this topic in greater detail or explore strategies for leveraging data in your organization’s product management efforts, please feel free to contact me.

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About the Author
Manisha Mishra

Manisha Mishra is a Manager at Waterstone. Manisha brings over 10 years of experience working in technology and strategic advisory, with a focus on product and growth strategy. While at Waterstone, Manisha has managed the definition, development and launch of a content management product for an enterprise company. In addition, Manisha has also worked on SaaS transformation and Customer Success initiatives.