The term “big data” is trendy right now, but the use of data in product strategy is no fad. When building a product, a number of sources influence the decisions that ultimately help build something useful, powerful and one that truly solves a problem. Here at Desk.com, data and customer feedback are key drivers in determining how we shape our products.
Any time you make a decision, you want multiple inputs. But first you must determine what data you’re collecting and why. Listen to this conversation I had recently with Paul Joyce of Geckoboard on how data can be used to inform — and even drive — product strategy. Thinking about behavior in terms of data is a way to approach decision making and we hope this information is something you find useful when considering your own product strategy.
4 steps to start using data to shape product strategy
1. Identify key performance indicators.
Know the key performance indicators that matter for your business and have a timeframe for checking in on the results. Each part of the business will have unique factors to measure. Conversion, engagement, retention, how quickly and often something is shared, and customer acquisition cost are all standard KPIs for a SaaS product.
2. Set a strategy that uses KPIs to drive business need.
We use the Salesforce V2MOM process to help us determine the big things we’re trying to achieve in terms of vision, goals and steps. We focus on actionable metrics like user growth, conversion rate for new customers in addition to net promoter score and customer satisfaction. Always focus on critical numbers that matter.
3. Share the responsibility with your team.
Desk.com product managers monitor the metrics and use a scorecard to track and report progress. They manage toward our KPIs and have a plan to review and reevaluate those numbers frequently.
4. Know when you need to iterate on your goals.
It pays to be clear and flexible. Keep an eye on the adoption of specific features and have a goal of how many people you want using specific features or products. If you’re starting from scratch and don’t have a baseline, have a plan for adjusting your goals. The key is to have clear specific definitions of your goals and how they’ll be tracked and to take the time to check in, reevaluate those goals and make sure they still make sense.
Using data to help build products is a powerful way to shape your strategy and roadmap. Data can help you identify what products to build, how to build them and optimize them once they’re built. They can help you kill a feature that seemed promising at the time, but just didn’t pan out the way you hoped. The right data allows you to look back at the decisions you’ve made to see how they’ve performed.