7 Things All Successful Data Product Managers Have In Common

By Grace Lau

Published on February 2, 2023

A Data Product Manager smiling as she shared her laptop screen with a colleague.

Data product managers are in high demand these days. In 2020, Glassdoor rated product manager as the 4th best job in the US. This makes it more important for aspiring data product managers to stay ahead of the competition.

So what sets data product managers apart from the pack? What skills do they possess that make them successful? This post will unpack the top 7 traits that successful data product managers have in common. Sounds exciting? Let’s start!

1. Successful Data Product Managers Know Their Data and Analytics

If a product data manager wants to excel in their field, they must analyze data and analytics effectively.

Data can be complex and ever-changing. Successful data product managers are friends with data. They know how to interpret and harness it effectively. They can identify key trends in data that may lead to better business decisions or opportunities for growth. Many are subject matter experts for a particular kind of data, which enables them to spot anomalies in that data quickly, understand the root cause, and resolve the issue.

Circle chart sourced from theproductmanager.com displaying the typical time spent by product manager

Further, they can quickly create helpful visualizations from the data they analyze. This helps them communicate their findings to other members of their teams or stakeholders.

In project management, planning, tracking, and executing tasks required to complete a project is crucial. Being able to navigate through these areas is pivotal to solving project management problems when working with data products.

A successful data product manager knows their data inside and out. They understand the different types of data, how it flows through the system, and what needs to be done to keep things running smoothly.

Understanding data and analytics ensures that data is used effectively and helps troubleshoot any problems. These core capabilities are necessary for successfully managing a data product.

2. Successful Product Managers Use the Right Tools & Technologies

The right tools and tech stack can make or break a project. Successful data product managers understand this and look to use the right ones for their data-driven projects. Becoming experts in their field, so they can answer questions like what is monolithic application and how it compares to microservices architecture.

While they are not a program, they are data savvy. They are knowledgeable about the different tools and technologies used in the industry, such as programming languages, data processing frameworks, machine learning libraries, databases, and analytics platforms for call history. They know how to choose the best tools for the job and use them effectively.

Having the right tools is essential for any successful data product manager focused on enterprise data transformation. Not only does this help them complete their tasks efficiently, but it also streamlines the whole development process, setting future projects up for success.

When choosing the tools for a project, whether it be the CIO, CDO, or data product managers themselves, the buyers must see the big picture. They must align on key strategic objectives – and understand how the data they are collecting will be used to achieve those objectives. Only then can they make the right tool selection.

3. They Have Technical Background & Business Acumen

Product managers have solid technical and data backgrounds and business acumen to develop efficient products. They can quickly understand complex systems and technology.

Product managers must keep up with technology trends to create innovative solutions to problems. They need an understanding of how customers will use their product to optimize it for maximum results.

A young woman sitting down in front of her laptop computer smiling as she’s getting her picture taken.

Good data product managers are not just technical literate; they also understand the business aspect of their products. They know the strategies, processes, and tactics to develop successful products.

A key trait that every prosperous leader in the tech sector shares is foresight. The same goes for data product managers. Successful data product managers have the business acumen to turn their ideas into reality without waiting for a call back to get things done.

This combination of skills is essential for anyone who wants to be successful in the tech industry. And it’s something that can be learned from a book or in a classroom. It can only be developed by getting out there and doing it.

So start by developing a visionary mindset by honing skills and gaining more industry experience to become a master data product manager. Then, combine it with a solid technical background and the ability to execute plans.

4. Effective Data Product Managers have a Proven Process

Successful data product managers don’t rely on their intuition. They have a proven process for defining the requirements for developing successful data products. A good data product manager will use a system that tracks progress and success, so they can measure their success, track their progress, and improve as needed.

The process should be well-thought-out and cover all the necessary steps from start to finish. Moreover, sticking to this process is important to ensure consistency and avoid mistakes. They can be confident that they’re constantly moving closer to their goals.

At the same time, they remain flexible and open to new ideas.

A light bulb fixture surrounded by crushed notepad papers in a dark background

As a product manager, it is important to be confident in changes that need to be made to achieve success. So even if there is a proven process, there is always the need to recognize when adjustments need to be made. Being agile and able to adapt quickly is key.

5. Best Data Product Managers Are Customer-Centric & Team Leaders

The top data product managers are always thinking about their customers. They understand that their product’s success depends on meeting users’ needs. They work hard to collect feedback and user data.

Why? They can use this information to decide how to improve their data product. They are constantly thinking about making their product more user-friendly and easy to use. In short, they are customer-centric.

Another important trait of successful data product managers is that they are great team leaders. They can provide complete project visibility to their team so that everyone can work together efficiently. They motivate and inspire their teams to push boundaries to reach success.

Product managers have a lot of responsibilities and need to trust that their team members will get the job done. They can bring together the right people and create an environment of collaboration.

A group of successful data product managers collaborating in an office space.

No matter how great an idea is it will only succeed through collective team efforts. So ensure to foster a team-first culture where everyone works together towards the same goal.

6. Top Data Product Managers Communicate Effectively

Great data product managers are excellent communicators. They understand how to clearly articulate the goals of a project and ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page.

They also know how to communicate effectively with stakeholders. If they cannot effectively communicate the value of their product, they will not get any buy-in from investors or other decision-makers. So, always appreciate effective communication.

In addition to being communicators, successful data product managers are also facilitators. They encourage collaboration and facilitate conversations between team members. They understand that communication is key to success.

They can get the most out of their team and produce high-quality products by fostering a communication culture. For example, a team web conference to brainstorm ideas can be a better way to understand how a product should look than taking a top-down approach.

7. Successful Data Product Managers Can Tell a Great Story With Data

Data is the lifeblood of any successful data business. And a data product manager can tell a great story with data. You might even call them data storytellers!

With data, successful product managers can:

  • Provide insights into customer behavior.

  • Show the progress of a project.

  • Reveal areas of potential growth and risks.

  • And help to track progress towards key objectives.

But for data to be truly useful, it needs to be presented in a way that is easy to understand and actionable. This is where top-notch data product managers come in. They can take raw data and turn it into something appealing to stakeholders.

This involves cleaning and organizing data, analyzing it, and finding ways to tell a story with it. Worry not; it isn’t necessary to be super artistic about visualizing data. Just keep it simple and easy to understand. And communicate the findings of the analysis.

An older successful data product manager working from home while she takes notes on her notepad

Data product managers communicate the value of their data product in an engaging way, increasing the chance that stakeholders will also help drive success. All of this is aided by a deep understanding of the data itself, to see the story it depicts.

Final Takeaway

Successful data product managers do a lot of things under one belt. They use the right tech stacks to inform their decisions and take actionable insights out of the data. Furthermore, they have a proven process and stick with it.

But the best data product managers are agile and able to adapt quickly. They think customer-first and have strong leadership skills. They communicate effectively, facilitate conversations between team members, and can tell a great story with data.

In short, a great data product manager knows how to see the big picture while creating products that make an impact. The 7 traits mentioned above are shared among the best in the field. By embodying these traits, they are successful and, ultimately, help their company reach its goal of becoming a data driven organisation.

type: entry-hyperlink id: 6aDJayPA5q4kvgTYg7M2GN Author Bio

Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, a hosted PBX and AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.

  • 1. Successful Data Product Managers Know Their Data and Analytics
  • 2. Successful Product Managers Use the Right Tools & Technologies
  • 3. They Have Technical Background & Business Acumen
  • 4. Effective Data Product Managers have a Proven Process
  • 5. Best Data Product Managers Are Customer-Centric & Team Leaders
  • 6. Top Data Product Managers Communicate Effectively
  • 7. Successful Data Product Managers Can Tell a Great Story With Data
  • Final Takeaway
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