By Published On: 15 December 2021Categories: Articles4.3 min read

Project manager and product manager, have you ever thought that these two roles are the same? Did you know, even though they are both involved in the product development area, project manager and product manager have different duties and responsibilities?

product manager

The terms project management and product management sound the same at first glance and are often used interchangeably. It has also more or less blurred the distinction between these two roles. Even so, both turned out to be done with different and special disciplines.

Broadly, the product manager is responsible for driving product development. They prioritize initiatives and make strategic decisions about what your company wants to build. The product manager sits at the fulcrum between external (business goals, customer needs) and internal interests (the idealistic development team to build the product). In addition to external and internal areas, product managers are also responsible for technical, business and operational areas. This makes the project manager also considered as “Product CEO”.

In contrast to product manager, project manager are responsible for overseeing and completing the projects that have been assigned to them. Their involvement in the initiative does not begin until things have been determined. However, once the responsibility has been placed in their hands, they play an integral role in making it happen. Starting from managing work packages, creating timelines, allocating resources, monitoring completion status, and communicating them to project stakeholders.

product manager

According to PMI, there are three reasons why product management practices are important for an organization:

1. To develop the right products

2. To stop building the wrong products

3. The right product features at the right time

4. To ensure that people use the products

Having an important role, making product management activities has its own challenges. In product development projects, developers often have a different mindset and way of communicating with the client being handled. Their commercial preferences are often low because of their idealism to produce products as innovative as possible. Therefore, according to Project Management Trainer, Mike Clayton, the role of a product manager is needed to unite three different possibilities: Technology, business commercial interests, and customer preferences.

According to Mike, product managers have roles and responsibilities such as:

1. Bridging the Gap Between Stakeholders

There are many preferences that each stakeholder can have, and it is important to glue them into a single, mutually agreed set of preferences to form a product. One of the main tasks of a product manager’s role is about being a communicator. They must be able to emerge as future strategists who unite all stakeholders.

2. Setting Product Strategic Direction

In addition to ensuring that the products developed are highly innovative both in terms of functionality and visuals, product managers must also consider the commercial aspects of these products. They must be able to measure the commercial success of the product. Therefore, they must determine the strategic direction of the product from the stage of development, release, to the improvement cycle.

3. Become a Product Advocate Internally and Externally

Internally, product managers must apply for commercial support to meet the resource requirements needed during the development, release, and improvement cycles. So, product managers often carry the responsibility for profit and loss directly on their products like the product owner.

From an external point of view, the product manager must be responsible for forming a strategy to create a commercially profitable product. They have to follow market trends to understand the needs and priorities of their clients.

That’s an explanation of what project management and project manager are, duties and responsibilities, and the difference between a project manager and a product manager. Hopefully add to your insight about project management. 

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