Many people confuse Product Manager and Project Manager roles. Product managers and project managers often work together, they have distinct roles. While a product manager sets the vision, goals, and business trajectory of a product, a project manager leads the many projects to make those goals a reality. So if the product manager is a strategic thinker, the project manager is more of a doer.
In this article, we will give you an overview of the roles of the product manager and the project manager.
What does a Product Manager do?
They’re the ones who set and own the overall product direction, staying with it until they remove the product from the market. It is their responsibility to understand the user needs, translate them into a design or MVP (Minimum Viable Product), and lead a development team to build the product and meet those needs.
This involves typical tasks such as:
- Defines key metrics for product success
- Understands consumer needs and relays them to the product team
- Works with cross-functional teams—like engineering, design, and marketing—to develop and pursue product strategy
- Finds ways to improve or grow a product through market analysis and other research
- Keeps an eye on product performance
- Tests and monitors new product features
- Monitors competitors
You may be interested to read this: 25 Best Product Management tools for 2022.
What does a Project Manager do?
They have to take the product vision from the product manager, develop a project timeline around it, and plan the work for the development team to hit important goals and deadlines. Their responsibility is to successfully bring a project to completion within the agreed budget, time, and quality – one project at a time.
Project managers can do the following specific tasks:
- Determine key goalposts like project scope, timeline, and budget estimates
- Collaborate and communicate extensively with leadership and stakeholders
- Create and maintain processes for changes in the project
- Use project management software to keep track of tasks and schedule
- Make sure teams are collaborating well, and staying motivated and on schedule
You should now have a good idea of what makes a product manager different from a project manager. While a product manager is generally more focussed on the specific creation and development of a single product, a project manager is more concerned with the complete lifecycle of a team and project – from development to execution and delivery.
Product managers drive the development of products whereas project managers oversee the logistics and execution of those development plans. Inevitably, while there are significant differences between the two roles there is also an element of overlap.
Both project and product managers are concerned with the experience they are providing their customers, how they can best manage team members and how they can produce the best end product with the tools they have. Both roles require excellent communication and organization skills, as well as a knowledge of the relevant market.
A successful project or a successful product depends on a manager knowing their role and using their skills to fulfill their functions properly.
Confusion and overlapping competencies aside, product managers and project managers form a powerful duo after all. Their differences complement each other and ensure the long-term success of a company.
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