Product Manager vs. Project Manager

Product Manager vs. Project ManagerOrganizations that follow project management best practices are able to deliver good results that support business goals. Through project management, teams are able to bring value to the business in an efficient process, actively avoiding delays and high costs while maintaining quality. But in the last few years, business leaders suggest a shift from project-based thinking to product-based thinking. This shift leads to a product manager vs. project manager issue. Will the product manager now lead the project team? Will the project manager transition to a product management role?

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What is a product manager vs. project manager?

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To understand the product manager vs. project manager issue, it is important to define a product and a project.

  • Product – Anything that can satisfy a need of a consumer. It can be a finished good, object, system, merchandise, or service that is made available to a market. Companies create, maintain, and support a product to continually provide benefits to or solve problems of specific customers and businesses.
  • Project – A unique endeavor with a start and end to accomplish a goal. It is a temporary setting or arrangement where a team composed of non-permanent members work together for a period of time along with other constraints and objectives. Companies initiate, plan, execute, control, monitor, and close projects so they can deliver change in an efficient and organized manner.

Who is a product manager?

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The product manager is a business professional whose role is to discover a product that is valuable, usable, and feasible. Product managers understand the business setting, so they focus on maximizing the business value of a product. They understand technology so they have an idea of the level of effort needed to produce the product, although they do not necessarily have to be experts. They also understand the customers so they can represent the customers’ need of a great experience.

Responsibilities of the product manager

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The product manager sets the long-term vision of a product and communicates this vision to all stakeholders. Product managers are responsible for managing the whole lifecycle of a product, from initial concept stage to end-of-life stage. The key responsibilities of a product manager include:

  • Research – to solve market needs
  • Set the product vision – to define the product vision and develop the strategy
  • Communicate to stakeholders – to communicate the product vision throughout the organization, to articulate and defend the need for the new product
  • Develop the strategic plan – to develop the business case that identifies and prioritizes critical product attributes and recommends pricing
  • Create and maintain a product roadmap – to break plans into actionable tasks, work with key resources to ensure products will meet users’ needs, oversee testing, and develop a marketing plan

Read also: Best Product Management Software & Tools for 2021

Who is a project manager?

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The project manager is a business professional whose role is to inspire and lead a team in the timely and cost-effective completion of tasks within quality standards that result in the successful delivery of valuable business goals. Project managers can comfortably look at the big picture to track project progress as well as breakdown and monitor work details to maintain task quality. Project managers possess people skills that allow them to develop trust among and communicate with all stakeholders.

Responsibilities of the project manager

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The project manager identifies a set of activities, and then plans, executes, monitors, and closes them to achieve a goal such as develop a product or deliver a service. Project managers are responsible for bringing together all the resources needed to execute the project plan and deliver expectations that can range in a variety of size and scope. The key responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Work breakdown – to define the project scope and break down large initiatives into actionable tasks
  • Plan the timeline – to create the project schedule and budget and to describe the outcome of every task
  • Allocate project resources – to bring together the team with the required skills capable of properly executing the tasks
  • Monitor task completion – to monitor status and progress as well as define the metrics that indicates successful completion
  • Communicate progress – to communicate with all stakeholders, to promote collaboration, and to engage with them to solve all issues

Product Manager vs. Project Manager responsibilities

Tools and software for the product manager vs. project manager

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Product managers need tools and applications that will let them track market needs or customer requirements, document the product vision, communicate the product strategy, establish priorities and time frames, and create estimates. In particular, they need roadmapping tools to manage the different stages of product development.

Read also: How to Build a Roadmap for Your Next Software Build

Project managers need software that helps capture project requirements, breaks down large goals into smaller tasks, and brings together timeline, schedules, and resources in several views. Project management software should be accessible to all team members. It works to facilitate collaboration with easy communication, automatically track progress, and provide alerts, reports, and notifications. Today’s project management software such as monday.com, Workzone, and Wrike are also flexible enough for product management. Features include dashboards that lets you view and review status updates, interactive charts that lets you manage priorities quickly, and collaborative task management for multiple users.

Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose is a subject matter expert and member of the writing team for Project-Management.com and Bridge24. He has written hundreds of articles including project management software reviews, books reviews, training site reviews, and general articles related to the project management industry.

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