Knowledge Series · product management

Know the difference: Product Manager vs Product Owner

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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.

Product Manager

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.

Product Owner

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.

If you are all set and ready to transition into Product Management and land that dream job of yours, you can apply to the upcoming cohort of Knowledge Officer PRO Product Management Program Here.

Knowledge Series · product management

What is Product Management?

Product management has carved a niche for itself by becoming the force that not only drives innovation but also exponentially improves the growth of any business. It is one of the most important organizational roles across both startups and enterprise companies that is gaining a lot of attention.

Product Management is a little difficult to define because it doesn’t completely fit into any one of the traditional roles that we are all familiar with: business strategy,  marketing, engineering, support, or design. In fact, Product management is a discipline that draws on all these fields and requires cross-functional leadership to succeed.

History

Neil H. McElroy, who had spent most of his years working at Procter & Gamble, is credited with the conception of the term “brand man“. In his words, the brand man was responsible for a specific brand right from its inception to its entire life span. McElroy created this concept of product ownership within the context of marketing.

Modern product management was created around this idea of product ownership. Product management requires taking full responsibility for the product through its lifecycle. In recent times technology firms and other businesses followed suit and started using the power of product management. The impact that the deep understanding of product management has on the growth of the company is unparalleled. 

Definition of Product Management

“Product Management is an organizational function that drives and manages the strategy, development, marketing, launch, and support of a product throughout its lifecycle.”

Product management is a very crucial link in organizational machinery. It is multifaceted and interdisciplinary reaching across various teams involved in planning, designing, and modifying the product on a continuous basis.

Product management closely focuses on two very important things. One is creating products that provide value to customers. The other is aligning product strategy to business strategy to meet measurable business goals like revenue, and profit margins, etc.

Roles & Responsibilities

Product Management requires a wide array of skills in order to be successful. Traits such as insatiable curiosity, being thoughtful, and being excellent in an organization sets a product manager apart from others. Also, being customer-centric especially aligning the needs and wants of the customer with the various teams and the product’s vision is a crucial skill.

Product manager’s duties combine both internal and external product management responsibilities. Internal product management requires performing research, gathering competitive intelligence, and studying industry trends. It also includes strategizing and managing the product development roadmap.

External product management incorporates product marketing, branding, customer communication, new product launches, advertising, PR, and events. 

Future of Product Management

Product management has quickly risen as one of the most sought after careers. It is a well-paid and rewarding career. As the experience of a product manager rises, so does the roles and responsibilities. Product management titles can range from the entry-level role of an associate product manager to a senior chief product officer who leads the entire product team.

Product management is witnessing a continuous expansion. The demand for product management is only growing and well-qualified product managers are being welcomed in every organization. Product managers usually face quite a challenging interview wherein their technical knowledge, decision-making skills, business acumen, and product sense are tested. 

At Knowledge Officer, we offer a structured Product Management boot camp that helps candidates pursuing product management to hone their skills to the utmost perfection and excel in their field.

Knowledge Series · product management

Know the difference: Product Manager vs Project Manager

Product manager and Project manager are two of the most important roles in every technology company. That is why understanding the difference between them is so crucial. Although both the job roles involve quite different tasks and responsibilities, they are often mistaken for each other. 

If you have to explain the difference between a Product Manager and a Project Manager to someone in just a sentence or two, I think this common saying making the rounds in the industry does the job of explaining it pretty well.

“A Product Manager is responsible for the What and the Why.
A Project Manager is responsible for the Who, When, and How.”

I am sure if you are still reading this, you are interested in knowing more than that. To make things clearer, let’s simplify the process by first understanding what a product and a project are.

Product vs Project

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.

Project

A project is a set of activities that are necessary to create a product or a service or to bring some aspect of the product to a specific outcome.

A project is usually a temporary endeavor with a start and end date and a well-defined outcome. It usually goes through five stages – project initiation, project planning, project execution, project monitoring, and project closure.

It’s important to understand that product development requires a set of activities, i.e. a project, to reach the desired outcome, and that multiple projects can occur within a product’s life cycle.

Product Manager

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.

Some of the common tasks Product Managers are responsible for:

  • Talking to users/customers to gather requirements
  • Identifying problems and opportunities
  • Prioritizing product and customer requirements
  • Defining the product vision
  • Communicating vision to the stakeholders and different teams involved
  • Creating and maintaining the product roadmap
  • Working with different teams to keep everyone aligned to the product vision and business goals

Project Manager

A Project Manager is responsible for the execution and the successful delivery of the project within a specific deadline and budget. They take the product vision from the product manager and create a project timeline by breaking down initiatives into tasks and allocate resources. A project manager is also responsible for the completion of the tasks and communicating progress to the stakeholders.

Some of the common tasks Project Managers are responsible for:

  • Breaking down the plan into doable tasks and planning the project timeline
  • Allocating project resources efficiently to save time and money
  • Managing team workload and monitoring accurate project time-log
  • Identifying potential problems and managing risk
  • Monitoring task completion and communicating progress to stakeholder

Conclusion

In short, a product manager and a project manager require a different set of skills to excel in their particular role. At some small companies, and sometimes even at larger corporations, one can find some overlap between the roles of product managers and project managers. But rest assured, the roles and responsibilities of one are completely different from that of the other. Having said that, there are certain skills that both a product manager and a project manager must have/develop in order to be successful: strategic thinking, delegation, listening skills, problem-solving, and effective communication. Keeping the confusion and their overlapping skills aside, it is clear that the product manager and project manager are two of the most crucial roles in a tech company and that their differences should complement each other well in order to be successful.

If you are all set and ready to transition into Product Management and land that dream job of yours, you can apply to the upcoming cohort of Knowledge Officer PRO Product Management Program Here.