• Serhii Tolstoi

How to become a Product Analyst?

Who is the Product Analyst in a software company?

A product analyst has a deep understanding of the product, owns the KPIs, and works to identify areas of improvement and potential product opportunities.

What product analyst do in the company:

  • Defining and monitoring KPI(Key Performance Indicators) for your product.

  • Analyzing data (user experience, performance data, support requests, external data) to find product growth points, understand user behavior, and make business recommendations (cost-benefit, forecasting, impact analysis, etc.).

  • Deliver effective presentations of findings and recommendations to multiple levels of stakeholders.

  • Planning, conducting and interpreting A/B test results to optimize existing and implement new product features.

  • Develop and automate reports, iteratively build, and prototype dashboards to provide insights at scale, solving for business priorities.

  • Be the data and analytical lead in various projects and work closely with different teams across the company.

You can check Guide to Product Analytics or The Product Analytics Guide to better understand product analyst tasks.

Generally, every product analyst is expected to have the following skills:

1. To extract data from databases:

  • SQL: You should be able to query and manipulate databases.

  • Python/R: For companies that require it. Python/R also allows you to extract external data through API (ex. Twitter data or open databases), analyze, automate processes, and much more.

2. To analyze data:

  • Excel/Google Sheets/Tableau/Power BI: You should know how to use spreadsheets to manipulate data, create pivot tables, and visualize data.

  • Abstract analytical skills: You should solve tasks with many unknown factors and ask the right questions.

  • Basic Statistical Concepts: You should know how to frame and conduct hypothesis tests, analyze A/B tests, etc

  • Python/R: You can use it for advanced tasks, like Machine Learning, etc

3. To visualize data and make dashboards:

  • Tableau/Power BI/Excel/Google Sheets/Python/R. You should be able to visualize queries and insights using various data visualization tools.

4. Soft skills:

  • Presentation and communication skills.

  • Exceptional problem-solving skills and impeccable business judgment.

  • Product thinking.

How to become a Product Analyst?

As you can see, a product analyst needs to have a bunch of different skills.

I would recommend you start from a minimum required set of skills:

  • Google Sheets / Excel for data analysis.

  • SQL for data extraction from databases.

  • Product thinking.

It should be enough for most companies to extract data, do research, and give recommendations. I think that to learn them as separate skills without project-based practice is not effective.

Of course, you can take full specializations as:

But I believe that more productive work on a specific project because you think about the product/business, how to improve it, and work on real problems.

The question:

Where to get the real product that you can analyze and improve? Be creative.

I can propose a few options:

  • find a business that doesn’t have analytics expertise and propose to work for free. You can go on some freelance platform(ex. UpWork) to find people who need analytics.

  • find an analyst/product manager/owner who needs help in analytics. You can visit product meetups, online communities and search there.

  • create a blog/business on some platform (ex.Wix). It can take a lot of time to get free traffic, but you will be the owner and think like the business owner.

  • find open tasks/datasets for analysts on the internet, solve them, and then compare them with the best solution. You can find some tasks on Kaggle.

So before you started to work on a project, it’s good to have some fundamental skills. You can google them. Below are some examples:

1. Google Sheets. Google Sheets Fundamentals and Intermediate Google Sheets.

2. Play with Google Analytics Demo Account. How do they collect data, aggregate, and visualize the data? Play with data, think where they can improve their Google Merchandise store.

3. SQL. SQL Fundamentals or w3schools SQL tutorial, SQL for Business Analyst.

4. Product thinking it’s a bit broad concept. Here I mean that you should think about a product in terms of product value, user experience improvements, knowledge about how other companies improved products, etc. Here I recommend some resources:

  • The Amplitude Blog. Perspectives and best practices on product management, building products, user retention, growth, engagement, and more. Try their demo account, see what graph they show, and think why they suggest these graphs.

  • Try GoPractice Simulator. In this simulator, you’ll work with data sets in Amplitude analytics to understand the situation, design and analyze experiments, and make decisions that move the business forward.

  • Read some books like Product Analytics PlayBooks: Mastering Retention, User Engagement, Guide to Product Analytics.

And after that, I recommend you to start working on your project and continue to learn other topics:

After you get your first job, talk with your Team Lead about your development plan, to know the exact skills you need to bring more value to the company.

Good luck, bring value and have fun :)

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