Best Practices

How PMs can help build a culture of data-informed product discovery

Published Mar 19, 2024
Discovery is a critical part of the product development process. And yet many teams struggle to find the time and resources to do it well.

But here’s the reality: Skipping product discovery is detrimental to growth, and even costs businesses billions every year thanks to wasted time and resources. Building without your end users’ needs and goals in mind can also hurt your brand’s reputation and diminish customer trust. And ignoring signals from your product will result in wasted features (not to mention the time it takes to build them)—leading to thrash and frustration.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The best product teams leverage a fully integrated product experience platform—like Pendo—to streamline their discovery process and organize all the insights they need to make more informed decisions. They use quantitative, qualitative, and visual data to guide them. And they use tools that allow them to build scalable, repeatable, and contextual communications.

If you’re a product manager (PM) on a team that’s feeling the friction of a clunky or disconnected discovery process, read on for three tips you can leverage to help instill a culture of data-informed product discovery throughout your organization.


1. Democratize product experience tools and educate teams on data literacy

The best way to rally your entire organization around data is to help people get comfortable (and empowered!) using it—especially because you unlock the real magic of product data when it’s freed from siloes and used throughout the business. In product-led companies, product data is a central part of every team’s success, and is used to inform decisions that drive improvements at every stage of the customer journey.

Because PMs are closest to the product—and generally sit at the intersection of technical (e.g. engineering) and non-technical (e.g. marketing, sales, etc.) teams—they’re uniquely positioned to serve as the champions of product data. And by leading by example, they can inspire other teams to learn about the business impact of product and understand how their own actions can influence it. 

An easy way for PMs to start educating other teams on the value of product data is to include product analytics as part of broader company or executive-level readouts—telling a clear story about the role of product performance in driving business outcomes. A platform like Pendo (which was originally made for PMs, but designed to be accessible for non-technical teams) makes this easy. And by democratizing access to product insights, teams throughout the business can deepen their data literacy and take steps to improve all the parts of the product experience their work touches.


2. Use data at every step of decision-making

Product discovery is an ongoing, iterative process—not just limited to a single, early stage of the product management life cycle. To make product discovery an intrinsic part of your product team’s DNA, you need to leverage data at every stage of decision-making… not just when it comes time to launch a new product or feature.

PMs should encourage teams across the business to incorporate product data into their decision-making processes at every stage of the customer journey and product life cycle. From ideation and prioritization to testing and iteration, PMs should champion the power of quantitative product analytics, qualitative user feedback, and visual evidence in the form of session replays

Not only do all of these inputs serve as the “map” product teams should use to guide their own product development, they also serve as valuable insights to influence and inform other teams. For example, product data through a platform like Pendo can help teams like marketing, customer success, and enablement to better understand what’s working with their current programs and where adjustments need to be made to drive the desired results.


3. Promote a culture of experimentation and iteration

With their proximity to the product, data, and development teams, PMs are also in the perfect position to encourage a culture of experimentation and learning within their organizations. With a strong foundation of product data, PMs can work with teams throughout the business to pull on different levers (e.g. adding a tooltip to improve adoption, testing different in-app messaging to drive conversions, or playing with feature placement to see what yields the best engagement) to determine what actions most positively impact business performance. 

With a platform like Pendo, PMs can easily conduct experiments (e.g. guide experiments) and get customer feedback to validate decisions before going all-in on holistic product changes. Not only does this encourage a spirit of experimentation, but also serves as a safety net to ensure that any final decisions that are made have been fully vetted and supported by the data.

With a tool like Pendo Discover, product teams can build a repeatable, scalable engine of product discovery that allows them to test their ideas early and often, validate the direction of the features they’re building (with the people who will actually be using them), and easily communicate their plans back to relevant stakeholder groups. And because it’s part of the Pendo platform, other teams throughout the business will be able to see and learn from these actions, too—and apply those findings in their own work.


Want to learn more about how Pendo Discover can help PMs drive and champion data-informed product discovery? Join our interest list for updates.