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Self-service product analytics

Enabling Self-service Analytics

As a product manager, I’m happy to be able to rely on data during my everyday work. I know I can work in a flow without being interrupted by the absence of a needed insight. I aim to develop data literacy across my team by providing them with needed dashboards and helpful data visualizations. This helps us to stay on track and spot trends and performance changes beforehand.

But it wasn’t like this all the time.

I used to work with large Google Spreadsheets that had over 10k rows and were extremely slow. I was building a lot of pivot tables to analyze data and it took me forever just to wait for a result.

I saved myself from this by learning SQL. I talked to my manager and was allowed to test Google BigQuery and get some help from a data engineer. This laid the foundation of our self-service product analytics.

The power of self-service analytics for product teams

One of my current responsibilities is figuring out how reports should look like and how to build them. Working closely with a data engineer, we prepare all infrastructure to let our team make data-driven decisions.

We set up Metabase as our Business Intelligence tool on top of Google Big Query.

Through API I’m able to pull our third-party data and update it on a daily basis. Some data still sits in Google Spreadsheets but it is also now connected to Google Big Query.

Here is the structure: Raw data → Table by ad networks → Table by ad revenue

an image with data sctructure of Karen's project

an image with data sctructure of Karen's project

The final table showed revenue in the different periods. With this table, my team could analyze the data from different angles: by platform, by ad networks, by ad units, etc.

For many initiatives, I used Metabase and Google Data Studio to help me out. My team really likes to use the Metabase Dashboard Subscriptions feature which sends reports to our company’s Slack channel and brings the most important metrics in front of us. We also use Data Studio was for some of our self-serve dashboards.

Even though it took me a few months to learn and build the dashboards, it helped my team to better understand our performance.

As a product manager here is what I track with the help of dashboards:

  • Customer acquisition funnels for our premium plan: my team can see how many users signed up, tried premium features, and converted;
  • On-going experiments: we run a/b tests and monitor their performance. I usually build the dashboard before the experiment is launched enabling a smooth tracking process;
  • User journey: my team monitors how our users performed on the essential paths.

Dashboards helped my team to become more efficient:

  • Designers started to analyze which step may cause a friction for our users;
  • Engineers began to run more experiments;
  • Other departments adopted this mindset since it was reasonable for them to track how their initiatives were performing;

As the product manager, I benefit from this data-driven approach a lot. As any conversation arise, I can quickly pull all the needed information and make thoughtful decisions.

The best thing is that data usually talks for itself and unites the team. When we run experiments we all see how they perform and we do not spend time arguing about it anymore.

Contributed by
Karen Hsieh
KKFARM

Karen is Principal Product Manager at KKFARM, a subsidiary of KKBOX Company, the 1 music distribution platform supporting >7K artists in Taiwan and Hong Kong. You can read more from Karen at her website or find her on Twitter.

photo of Karen Hsieh