As a product manager, you’re probably looking at data day in and day out. Either you, your boss or other stakeholders need it to make decisions.
The thing is that, many times, that data is not accessible. It doesn’t quite have the format you’re looking for, or simply, there is no easy way get what you or others need.
You might or might not have a person dedicated to getting that data for you, but even if you do, that person has a thousand things in their to-do list, so you’ll need to wait for them to get to your request.
Once they get back to you, you realize there’s something that needs adjusting, or something else to be looked at, and the cycle continues.
This is way too slow. It’s time to do things in a different way.
There are a couple of easy skills that I learned as a developer that have really helped me with all-things data: Python and SQL.
I had forgotten what a superpower programming is until I became a product manager. Any request I get for reports or data I can code it so that the next time I need it, it’s already done.
It’s even better when people expect you to take hours or days to get back to them and you’re like: “bam, there you go”.
With Python, you can do easy things very easily. You can make one or multiple APIs requests to get the data you need, query databases, create an excel sheet (or a Google Sheet), draw charts, you name it.
Programming is easier than everyone wants you to believe. It gets harder as complexity increases, but for simple things it’s really simple.
Another language that’s getting in your way to the data is SQL, which is a query language more than programming one per-se, used to extract data out of databases. It looks like this:
SELECT name FROM User WHERE id = '1234'
You’re just telling the database to give you the name of the user that has a certain id. Simple, right? It gets harder from there but the concepts are easy to grasp.
I don’t have any good references on learning either Python or SQL. Since I’m no expert by any means, I’m constantly looking stuff up on Google and Stack Overflow.
I won’t say that any of those things are super simple to learn, but they’re not as hard as you think they are. Programming gets hard when you have the equivalent of a spreadsheet with a dozen tabs, all interacting with each other in subtle and convoluted ways.
However, with Python and SQL, doing simple things is easy, and that’s all you need to get a superpower.