Understanding the difference between a Product Manager and a Product Owner is quite important and it is also something that takes time for people to understand. To be precise, there is some overlap in the job responsibilities (which is the reason why it gets confusing) but overall the job roles are quite different.
There are many factors that influence how these roles, Product Manager and Product Owner, operate in a company. It operates differently in a different company setting. Some of the factors that influence how the roles are carried out are the size of the company, maturity of the product, and how the agile practices are operated in that particular company.
Let’s first understand the meaning of the product.
A product is anything that solves a problem or satisfies a consumer’s wants or needs. A product can be anything from a physical product (book) to a software (book inventory management application) or a service (on-demand ebook subscription service).
Products go through a lifecycle that consists of multiple stages. First, the product is conceived and then developed. Then the product is introduced to the market where it grows in acceptance until it matures. When a product reaches maturity, its sales tend to slow down or level off after reaching a peak. Although companies generally attempt to keep the product alive in the maturity stage as long as possible, the decline for every product is inevitable. Finally, the product is retired when the need for it diminishes.
A Product Manager is responsible for the development of product strategy, and for setting the product direction throughout all the stages of the product lifecycle. It is his/her responsibility to gather requirements by talking to the end-users, to translate them into a design or MVP (Minimum Viable Product), and to lead a development team to build the product and meet those needs.
A product manager’s job is more business-oriented and requires a keen lookout for growth opportunities. Since a product manager is responsible for strategy development and product vision, he/she tends to communicate with other departments, such as marketing, sales, or product team, a lot in order to align the organization around a cohesive plan.
The product manager discovers what users need, prioritizes what to build next, and rallies the team around a product roadmap. Product managers are strategic. They focus on the product’s vision, company objectives, and the market. Product Managers need to be the expert of the product and customer.
The product owner’s job is more tactical than it is strategic. Product owners are responsible for translating the Product Manager’s strategy into actionable tasks and make sure the tasks are executed according to the requirements. Product Owner is a role that is usually present in an organization that follows agile development methodology. Product Owners work with cross-functional agile teams and coordinate with them to build products.
The product owners create and manage the product backlog. They create user stories for the development team and communicate the voice of the customer in the Scrum process.
Product owners order the backlog items and optimize the value of the development teams’ work.
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