Strategies to Define KPIs with Former Expedia Product Lead

Last week, Product School hosted Riah Sathe, Former Product Lead at Expedia, for a special #AskMeAnything session. Riah has a lot of useful frameworks and strategy tips to share. Read on to learn her approach to metrics and see her favorite Product resources.

Meet Riah

This week, Product School hosted Riah Sathe, Former Product Lead at Expedia

Riah Sathe is an enthusiastic Product Leader who focuses on the customer to create key defined results. She recently worked as a Product Lead for a global product line at Expedia Group. Her customer care platform supported millions of travelers all over the world each year. She also worked as a Product Manager in Expedia’s first APM cohort and as a Global Product Manager intern before that.

What are the top 3 tasks a PM should prioritize?

  1. Talk to users! This is first and foremost.
  2. Strategy – I spend time doing competitive research & stay up to date on new trends.
  3. Looking at the right data. It’s important to define the right metrics and focus on 3-5 KPIs and continually measure those.

Check out: Do’s & Don’ts of Interviewing Customers to Build Great Relationships

Specific strategies to define KPIs?

photo of dart stuck in the middle of dart board. the dart is in focus, the board is blurry.
  • It’s good to have a mix of leading and lagging indicators. You’d want to be able to proactively track data as well as respond to change.
  • I say 3-5 KPIs as a general guideline so you’re looking at the highest priority items.
  • Also define a North Star.

What tools and frameworks do you recommend for creating roadmaps?

I have used multiple tools in the past, right from JIRA portfolio, to simpler tools like Google sheets or powerpoint. I’d first identify the goal of your roadmap. Some roadmaps are meant to be more strategic, while others are tactical. I find JIRA portfolio great for tactical roadmaps where you can directly track work. For leadership/customer facing roadmaps which are more strategic, I believe figma would be great to follow.

When launching a new feature for your Product or strategic business unit, how do you define which events to track?

I like to use a framework when I’m approaching metrics called Goal-Question-Metric (GQM).

  • Start with 1-2 high level goals
  • Hone in on questions you’re looking for answers to. What is it that you want to accomplish with the launch?
  • Once you know what you want to measure, you’d identify your metrics. 3-5 of those would be your key metrics (or KPIs) and you might have additional metrics to give you the complete picture.
  • I’d approach analytics/engineering on getting the right events and tracking those only after you’re clear on what has to be measured for success.

What technical skills are required as a PM?

PM roles vary across the board so the level of technical skills needed vary as well. If working in a technology company however, it’s best to have a high level understanding of the architecture of the product you’re looking at.

It’s valuable to understand upcoming technology trends so you can make important strategic decisions as well. For Platform Products, strong technical skills would definitely be a plus. For example, being able to understand APIs, basic technical architecture etc. System design is typically not asked in the interview process except for a few companies.

How should I customize my CV per job description?

person seated at a wooden table, with their head out of frame. the person is wearing business casual clothes and writing with a pen on a sheet of paper on a clipboard

I’d do a few things:

  • Identify what problems the role is specifically going to be focused on.
  • If you have relevant experience to that specific domain, I would highlight that in your resume. Sometimes we may not have the exact same experience, but have worked on a similar problem space, similar industry or with the same user segments. In that case, I’d also highlight that.

I do not have any examples to share, but these are general guidelines.

I am a new Product Owner. Should I get certified?

Thank you for your question. Product School offers a great program & there are many free resources available. I have in the past seen Product Owners or TPMs get a PMP certification, however it is related to Project Management & not Product specific. In general, I find that certificates are not mandatory or an expected standard for PM roles. I’d focus on the skills you’d want to develop and go from there.

New Product Managers have limited resources or time to learn the business. How can they best learn the business of the product?

One way I like to approach things is by doing some preliminary market research.

  • Start with the business first. Identify competitors, the landscape, geographies, etc. Identify the top 3 problems faced by your organisation as a whole.
  • Get into your individual product space & repeat this. This is exhaustive but it helps to start with the most pressing problems first and take it from there.
  • Talk to users as early as possible! Dive into former user studies and take a look at frequent support tickets. This should tell you what’s the biggest customer need.

This takes time and is always a changing landscape. Sometimes companies like Gartner or consulting firms are also a great starting point as they have done the initial research in that field. Their reports are usually available.

I’m looking to pivot from operations to Product. What learning resources would you recommend?

a headshot of someone holding a black book open in front of their face, so that the book hides their face

It’s great to be curious and develop that, as you come across products in your day-to-day. Operations can be a good starting point, as you’d be strong in the execution aspect of things. I’d recommend building a focus on strategy & Product Design to complement that skill set. I recommend Stratechery as a blog for building strategy skills. I will post a list of Product books towards the end of this chat.

Read next: Transitioning to Product Management From ANY Background

I have been assisting my current PMs from the position of software engineer. I need guidance on whether it’s better to shifting internally to the PM role vs outside directly?

That’s a great way to start, by shadowing PMs around you. I find that moving internally can help since you already understand the product/business and can focus exclusively on honing Product skills. However, sometimes, external programs (like an APM program) help you cover multiple dimensions in a more structured and intentional way. I would say it depends on what stage of career you’re at.

I am evaluating the best path to get into Product Management. I’m thinking I can start as a Tech Program Manager (TPM) and then move to Product Management. Have you seen people make this transition?

I have seen several people transition via the TPM route so it certainly can be a stepping stone. That being said, you’re already in Program Management and if you feel ready to apply, I’d encourage you to do so! I would focus on building Product design & strategy skills and showcasing that in interviews as you would likely already be strong in execution with your current background. Good luck!

How do you get your foot in the door? Most roles I see call for someone with experience.

There are several APM positions nowadays that are designed for individuals with 0-3 years of Product experience. I’d recommend applying to those as the interview process is more centered around Product sense and lesser on your former background. Another way is to move within your current organization. Find an interesting problem to solve and see if the product team would be open to a rotation.

Any final tips?

My advice is to go ahead and apply/do not be afraid of making the shift. It can appear difficult but I’m sure with the right approach you can break into the field!Some resources I personally like for strategy & design:

  1. The Stratechery blog by Ben Thompson
  2. Hooked by Nir Eyal
  3. The Design of Everyday Things
  4. All things Product School! You will find tons of great resources on the YouTube channel for all these topics.

I will try to answer all the remaining questions! Feel free to connect on Linkedin.

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