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What level of data and analytics competencies are needed for a Technical PM?

Navin Ganeshan
Navin Ganeshan
Amazon Head of Driver Products, Amazon RelayJune 1

To be blunt, I think they are critical. Data is the currency for any decision-making, and analytical competencies are exactly what empower product managers, technical or otherwise. For technical PMs, there is also an expectation of data self-sufficiency where they are not as dependent on BI or other engineers for extracting and analyzing data. While I wouldn't necessarily imply that SQL capabilities are absolutely critical, let's just say that analysis and visualization can be a substantial super-power. Whether it's being able to analyze feature-usage, page-flow dynamics, browser-metrics or build retention-matrices, using off-the-shelf dashboards can be limiting. Newly launched features may not always be accompanied by ready-to-reporting. In these cases, data competencies ca help a PM bridge that gap. Product managers who can access, analyze and visualize data also have a substantial speed and efficiency advantage over others.  

What skills are useful? Specifically basic data-modeling, simple SQL, analytical tools for performing historgrams, scatter-plots and simple visualization using tableau, PowerBI etc. Another benefit to this data self-sufficiency is that PMs can engage in higher quality story-telling around their product area. It frees them to express what's happening using a data-centric or visual language that can often make the difference between a good PM and an exceptional one.  

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Deepak Mukunthu
Deepak Mukunthu
Salesforce Senior Director of Product, Generative AI Platform (Einstein GPT)May 6

Here are some of the key competencies that a technical PM should possess:

  1. Understanding of data and analytics concepts: A technical PM should have a basic understanding of data and analytics concepts such as data modeling, data warehousing, data governance, and data visualization. They should be able to understand the data requirements of the project and communicate with data analysts and data scientists.

  2. Ability to read and interpret data: A technical PM should be able to read and interpret data to gain insights into the project's progress and performance. They should be able to use data to make informed decisions about the project and communicate insights to the project team.

  3. Familiarity with data analytics tools: A technical PM should be familiar with data analytics tools such as Excel, Tableau, and SQL. They should be able to use these tools to analyze and manipulate data and generate reports.

  4. Understanding of data security and privacy: A technical PM should have a basic understanding of data security and privacy requirements. They should be able to ensure that the project complies with relevant data security and privacy regulations.

  5. Collaboration with data analysts and data scientists: A technical PM should be able to collaborate effectively with data analysts and data scientists. They should be able to communicate project requirements and understand the technical constraints of the project.

Overall, a technical PM should have a basic level of data and analytics competencies to manage projects that involve data and analytics effectively. They should be able to understand data requirements, analyze data, and collaborate with data analysts and data scientists to ensure the project's success.

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