Project Manager Vs Product Manager
By Arijit Banerjee
Product Managers and Project Managers are often mistaken one for the other, even in industries that employ both of them. Although their titles may sound similar, their responsibilities differ and require different skills as well as tools. So what exactly do they do?
- Product managers drive the development of products. They prioritize initiatives and make strategic decisions about what gets built. Their primary focus is the customer’s needs, which is an external objective.
- Project managers, on the other hand, often oversee the execution of plans that have already been developed and approved. Their primary focus is tactical to the company, which is an internal objective.
To quote Ian McAllister from Quora: “Product Managers own ‘What’ and ‘Why’. Project Managers own ‘How’ and ‘When’. ”
Project Managers are ultimately responsible for the successful delivery of a project within a predetermined time frame and budget. The role of a project manager has a start date and end date as he/she works towards the defined result/goal. Project managers are responsible for managing the scope of the project to ensure that it meets the objectives by balancing the cost, time, quality and people, and even managing risks and issues within the set boundaries.
Once a project is successfully completed, the project manager picks up the next project and moves on. To summarize, a project manager owns the following:
- Cross-team organizations
- Status updates
- Problem Resolution
Product Managers are responsible for the satisfaction of the needs of the customers and to ensure that the product adds value to the company. Product Management stretches beyond the lifecycle of the product. It includes gathering customer requirements and prioritizing them to define a product vision and working in cohesion with engineering, sales, marketing and support to ensure that customer satisfaction goals are met. In addition to all of this, the role of the product manager is also to ensure that the above efforts support the company’s goals and strategy. To put in a nutshell, the product manager owns the following:
- Profit & Loss
- Organizational Training
Despite the stark difference in their respective roles, certain skill set requirements overlap between the role of a Project Manager and Product Manager.
- Time Management
- Organizational Skills
- Interpersonal Skills
Therefore, organizations often ask Project Managers or Product Managers to fulfill the role of the other as well. However, it is ideal to separate the roles. They both see the work with different coloured glasses and for the benefit of the company, it is better that they collaborate and work together as individuals and not take on each other’s roles.