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.

product management

6 Soft Skills Every Product Manager Must Have

Soft skills Product Managers must have

Organizations have known the importance of product management when it was not even an official term yet. Today in every field ‘the product’ determines the success and failure of those who have launched it. No matter which industry you look at, product management is the soul, and those who know it and nurture it to be the strongest pillar of their organization experience unparalleled success. Product management encompasses a variety of responsibilities and skillsets, which makes defining it challenging. The hard skills required for a product manager may be different for different industries, individuals, and products. However, there are certain soft skills and core competencies that form the foundation of a fantastic product manager.

Who is a product manager?

One of the most asked questions in the web world has no simple answer. A product manager is not only the go-to person for product related queries but is also the voice of the different teams building the product. The product manager is the one who streamlines what the customer wants with the technical teams and sets the right bar between the expectations and the reality. You may easily call a product manager – a superhero! 

Now, let’s jump right in and talk about some of the important superpowers, soft skills, a product manager should possess.

Communication Skills

One of the most salient and crucial qualities of a product manager is excellent communication skills. As all the information about the product reaches the product manager, it is the product manager’s responsibility to properly and efficiently deliver the right message to the right team in the right way. Yes! It is that important. So if you have, in all your working experience, learned the art of communication you are already armored with the most effective tool for the job.

 In the words of Nick Hynes, the principal product manager at LetGo,

“Product Managers are directly responsible for synthesizing the voices and needs of senior stakeholders, the product team, and customers. As such, they are the communication hub within their business.”

Good Listening Skills

The next soft skill required is good listening skills. This may not sound like a big deal but it is much more than that. Good listening skills give a product manager the extra edge in understanding the client’s needs and this results in better planning and execution. Time and time again it has been proven that just by listening and understanding the needs of the clients a product manager has been able to deliver above and beyond what was expected. Such results make everlasting bonds between people and organizations. According to Deloitte, customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than their peers.

Listening as a skill was highly underrated but now it is pretty clear that active listening is a must if one really wants to succeed. This includes listening to the team and listening to the users. Keeping an ear out for important information and nitty-gritty details help product managers understand the pain points and the challenges of the users.

The same level of active listening is required when dealing with the team because when a product manager knows its team and understands it well, half the battle is already won. Managing crisis or conflict situations comes down to listening to each party, identifying and acknowledging their concerns, and identifying the root causes of the issues. Thus, finding the right solution. In an article by Product Talk, It is said that we should focus on what the speaker is saying and not on what we want to hear. 

Customer-Centric Approach

It is imperative for a product manager to always keep the customer in mind. Once the customer’s needs and aspirations are clear to the Product manager then it becomes easy to reach the end goal and come up with a successful product. Although let us be clear about one thing: having a customer-centric approach does not mean overlooking any over-ambitious approach of the customer or being blind to the faults. Always be the mirror and show the right image to the customer and to the teams working on the product. This will help in clearing any grey areas that exist.

Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking may look like something that businesses always work on. However, in order to be absolutely efficient strategic planning must include forecasting, being in line with the company’s vision, goal-setting, keeping all teams on board with the product life cycle, and launching the product in the market. 

Be able to Influence

This may seem very poetic but I cannot stress enough how important it is. A product manager is not just invested in the success of the product from its inception till it is launched and even after that but a product manager is a guide who lights the way for all involved parties towards the destination. Having the ability to influence helps in talking and molding your customer through tough discussion. It also helps in managing the many teams and individuals involved in the process. A good product manager becomes a great leader when they learn how to bring this positive factor into play.

Delegation

Sometimes the easiest of all skills becomes a mammoth task and delegation is such an underrated skill. A product manager should always know what and how to delegate. Taking on all the responsibilities and micromanaging only burns the energy of a leader and keeps them from looking at the other more crucial aspects of the product development and product-related features. To be able to delegate work and responsibilities not only eases some responsibilities off the product manager’s shoulders, but it also sends out the message to the team that they are trusted. This little skill usually works like a charm and helps in bringing out the best in everyone.

Learn on the Job

Learn on the job! Although this holds true for almost all the jobs out there however, it is quite literally the thing in product management. You may know your field of expertise very well, you may even be technically sound and have knowledge about the product, the teams involved and even about the client and their requirements, however, nothing beats the experience that you would gain when working hands-on with a product. This experience that we are talking about is now being shared by many product managers in various blogs, articles, and in our course at Knowledge Officer. Product management, though essential to every organization, still lacks an official course or degree and that’s where we step in to help you boost your career a decade further. Our course is made with the help and guidance of some excellent product managers with a wealth of skills and experience.

Bonus: Important Activities of a Product Manager

Just to shed some more light on Product managers and their responsibilities, let us take a sneak peek into some of their important activities. The most important activity In a nutshell the Product manager should conduct research on the product and the market. This research should encompass addressable market and market expectations. If there is an already existing product in the market, then its drawbacks and plus points should also be taken into consideration.  

Once the research is done then comes the strategy-making which helps the team and the clients to know the various stages of the product and also keeps everyone on the same page. It also helps in minimizing confusion and misunderstandings. A product manager needs to be a good storyteller in order to communicate the plans to the various teams and the stakeholders. One of the best storytellers in this field is Steve Jobs, well, no one can weave a future plan and enthrall the whole world about Apple and its products the way he did. And look where the company is today.

Next comes seamless coordination, this may sound like a part of communication but there is a reason why we have listed it as an individual factor to be remembered. All meticulous planning and research can be in vain if there is a lack of coordination while developing the product. By now, you know who shoulders this crucial responsibility. Yes! It is the product manager.

The final thing which we consider to be quite essential and without which the entire framework may crumble is collecting and working on the feedback. This can be quite an exhausting task as the feedback may not always be glowing and bright, sometimes it may be harsh and yet be constructive. It depends completely on the product manager how they utilize the feedback received. As Elon Musk said,

“Pay close attention to negative feedback and solicit it, particularly from friends. Hardly anyone does that, and it’s incredibly helpful.”

So, by now you may have realized that being a Product manager means developing yourself as an all-rounder with sound technical knowledge, hunger to learn new things, being open to communication, constructively working on feedback, etc. Before I wrap up, here’s a mantra I hope all you future product managers always remember: to treat all your projects as if they are special and to remember that no two products are the same. So keep your mind open to new possibilities & uncharted heights and keep on learning!

Knowledge Officer Career Accelerator Pro Product Management program

We at Knowledge Officer organize a 6-month remote Bootcamp program that will prepare you to excel in your first Product Manager job or to make a smooth transition to a leading Product role in your current/new organization.

Throughout the program, you will become familiar with a broad range of topics such as Product Discovery, Product Roadmap, Market Research, Agile, Scrum, Product development, and planning: which will provide you with a strong foundation to become a skilled Product Manager. 

You will get a chance to develop and work on a lot of skills that are required of a Product Manager. What better way to learn it than from the experiences of the seasoned Product Managers from top companies.

Program Highlights:

  • 160+ hours of online learning
  • 10 live learning sessions
  • Bi-monthly Mock interviews to better prepare you for your future job interviews
  • Hands-on projects & case studies that will give you a real-life experience of working in the Product role
  • Bi-weekly 1:1 mentorship session with leading professionals at top tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Booking.com, Amazon and more
  • Job placement or money-back guarantee


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.