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  • Ajay kumar Sunnapu

Can We Make Better Decisions Using Product Instrumentation?

Introduction


In Product Management, Instrumentation is your ability to measure and track key metrics of a product feature. You get to know the importance of product instrumentation only by laying a good foundation for easy and insightful analytics. Only then you’ll be able to make decisions based on data, not feelings.


In this blog, we’ll look at the What, Who, and Why of Product Instrumentation along with few examples on how to go about instrumenting your product.


What is Product Instrumentation?


It is your superpower to track and measure essential metrics, like user acquisition, adoption, retention, etc. of a product.


Who is using it and measuring what aspect?



Why do we need Product Instrumentation?


Most of you would agree that Product Instrumentation is to track user behavior. Yes, that is partially correct. Additionally, It can also be used by the Engineering team to measure the system health by the Design team to check on user journeys, by the Quality Assurance team to debug user issues, by the Marketing team to measure their campaign performance, etc.


Read on to find out how to instrument your product right!


How to instrument it right?



The most necessary and initial step in any event-based analytics platform is the identification of the events.


Event Naming - An Event should always be a verb since it is an action by your user. You should define the event action well, as this would be used by other teams as well.


Event Properties – They describe the attributes of an event, such as screen name, location, object values, etc.


User Properties – They show you the characteristics of a person using our product. Some examples are joining date, age, referral source, user app download store, etc. It is always recommended to track a counter of critical actions as user properties i.e., number of orders placed or number of sessions booked. This will allow you to see how a threshold is crossed and its impact on user retention.


User Properties vs. Event Properties – User properties are attributes of users that help you understand the current state of the user. They are useful because user properties can change over time, and as such, these properties would not be unique to events and are instead mapped to the user. Event properties are attributes of an event and help us understand the state at which the event was triggered. Wondering why not just use Event properties instead of User Properties? Here is an explanation of it. One of the major reasons is it is much faster to compute user properties than to compute event properties. Few analytics tools do not allow Cohorting on event properties for some use cases. It is also important to understand how your data will map in your integrated tools.


Cross-Platform – One of the most significant learning from any experienced product manager is to keep the event names across all the platforms. Period. Be it Offline, Web, Android, or iOS platform. This will save you more time than you thought of.


Out of Session and Inactive events – Out of Session events are not considered part of the current session as they do not extend it. This might be useful if we are logging events triggered by push notifications and measuring the engagement, frequency correctly. Inactive events are the events that measure the actions that are not done by the end-user. It helps to measure the Daily Active Users and Retention correctly.


Summary


Product Instrumentation not only helps you understand your user behavior but also keeps you stay ahead in your target market. Once you start generating insights from all the metrics tracked, you will start observing how your product helps your users achieve their needs.


Let us know what you think of instrumenting your product down below in the comments and share how you make better decisions on Product Instrumentation. You can connect with me on my social media channels (LinkedIn, Twitter).


This whole post is inspired by Abhishek Kejriwal(LinkedIn, Twitter) talk on Better Decisions using Product Instrumentation by The Product Folks. He is currently working as Director of Product Management for Pratilipi, A platform to read stories, write your own and share your favorite ones in ten Indian languages. He is an alumni of IIT Bombay. You can view the session here.


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