A Day in the Life of a Product Analyst
When I started out as a product analyst, I had a limited understanding of what I would do on a day-to-day basis. I had some experience in user experience design and had always been drawn to teams and building out ideas, but product analyst is not a job you grow up hearing about.
What is Product Management?
Product management is a role at the intersection of business, design, and technology. Product managers are often referred to as the mini-CEOs of a company because they work on an idea from initial vision to final production. When you work on a project as a product manager, you continue to define and iterate on the initial idea, solving any issues that come up, all the while keeping the end user of the product in mind.
As a product analyst, I have different responsibilities than a product manager, the main difference being more focus on the day-to-day implementation of a project with my team.
A Day in the Life of a Product Analyst
8:30 A.M. Drink my first cup of coffee of the day and head into the office.
9:00 A.M. Arrive at work and scan through emails for any bugs with products that may have come up overnight. Answer any emails that can be addressed in under five minutes, so that I’m not a blocker on responding to anything. It’s pretty quiet in the morning and the development teams haven’t come in yet, so it’s one of the few times I’m completely not distracted.
9:15 A.M. Scan through product and technology industry news by looking through my Twitter feed, Nuzzle, and the many newsletters I’ve signed up for.
9:30 A.M. Twice a week I have a meeting with one of the lead product managers on my team. In this meeting, we touch on topics from specific initiatives I’m working on, to thinking big picture about the news and media industry and evaluating what upcoming megatrends and megathreats are. We’ve also gone rogue a few times and just got bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches down the street.
10:00 A.M. Daily scrum with the team on the current projects we’re working on. A scrum is a meeting where we address what we worked on yesterday, what we’re working on today, and any issues that are blocking our project from moving forward.
10:30 A.M. I usually try and block out this time to do some actual head-down work. In this time, I’ll either be working on mocking up a wireframe of what a feature could look like, or putting together a data model to understand how something we’re planning to build could impact our business.
11:30 A.M. A meeting either with my team, various stakeholders, or a brainstorming session.
12:30 A.M. Lunch. My go-to is sushi because it’s delicious and somewhat healthy. I try and get outside of the building sometimes and/or go to lunch with a co-worker.
1:30 P.M. Look through our backlog in JIRA, a product management tool, to see how various tasks that are part of our larger projects are prioritized. Continue to expand on user stories in these tickets and provide business justifications for why certain things should be built. At this point of the day, I’m on my second coffee.
2:30 P.M. Work on an influence piece, such as a presentation or continue to collect data, that I can take around and roadshow to various stakeholders to rally support for an idea. The product managers I work with will generally give me valuable feedback on these pieces, and advise me who I should talk to in order to move the project forward.
3:30 P.M. Meet with stakeholders to pitch an idea we’re thinking about to them. This can range from the user experience teams to the marketing teams, and we work to get them on board with an idea and to take any input or feedback they have into consideration.
4:30 P.M. I’ll have some more time here to chat with the product managers and work to figure out any issues they’re having with the projects they are currently working on and how I can help fill in any gaps. This may range from meeting with our data teams to understand what we should be tracking in a product to mocking up the user flows to better understand interaction in a feature.
5:30 P.M. Prepare to wind down and answer any final emails that I haven’t yet responded to throughout the day. Schedule meetings with appropriate stakeholders for later in the week.
6:00 P.M. Note any tasks I didn’t get to finish today and add them to my to-do list for tomorrow.
6:15 P.M. Head out, go to the gym and get my sweat on. Sometimes, I’ll try and get in a game of ping pong with the developers before I leave.
Weeknights vary from attending networking events, working as a teaching assistant at General Assembly, and getting drinks & catching up with friends.
9:00 P.M. Eat, sleep and get excited for the next day!
Product Managers do all kinds of things, and need to be a jack-of-all-trades to do their jobs well. There are lots of generalists in the world but to do all of these skills well is difficult. It’s true that many Product positions require a CS degree, but it’s also true that most do not. I’ve met a fair amount of Product Managers with backgrounds in the liberal arts, which translates well because Product Managers need to be good listeners, open to new ideas, and work well with people from a variety of backgrounds. Working as a Product Analyst and learning from the Product Managers in my company, it’s clear that great Product Managers sought after, highly paid, and key members of any good company.