Often, a product owner and a product manager may be a part of a project team. Both positions play an important role in a project, sometimes with a crossover of responsibility. Overall, though, these are two different product roles with unique responsibilities. Not everyone may fully understand these roles and how they tie into a project, so let’s take a closer look at each and identify how they are similar and how they are different.
Read more: Manager vs. Project Manager
Owner vs Manager
What Is a Owner?
A product owner is a project’s key stakeholder, who engages all other stakeholders, including users, customers, leadership, marketing, sales, and customer support, and connects them with the agile development team. They are responsible for supporting the development team by specifying requirements and outlining and prioritizing the product backlog to help determine the project’s outcome. owners serve as an internal customer expert for both engineering and development teams, answering questions and clarifying requirements throughout the entire project.
What Is a Manager?
A product manager is responsible for the development of products for an organization and leads the development and marketing of a product through all stages of its life cycle. They understand and connect business strategy, design knowledge, and customer needs together to develop a product that is achievable, relevant, and valuable. managers own the business strategy for a product and get involved in detailing its functional requirements, supporting its development, and managing its launch. managers are well-respected professionals, even though they’re among the least understood.
Read more: Best Management Software & Tools for 2021
Owner and Manager Roles Compared
The terms product owner and product manager are often used interchangeably, which may be because they both include “product” in their titles. There is some overlap to the responsibilities, but mostly, the roles are distinctly different. owners translate the product manager’s strategy into actionable tasks and work with cross-functional agile teams to execute those requirements. managers are more strategic, with a focus on the product’s long-term strategy, the product vision, market trends, company objectives, and identifying new opportunities. Let’s take a look at both roles and compare the job functions’ similarities and differences.
How Owners and Managers Are the Same
Both roles guide the product through the development process and work with several of the same teams and people across the organization. In some organizations and instances, a product owner may take on some of the more strategic roles of a product manager, and vice versa, depending on the context and the stage of the product. In this scenario, the product owner might be seen as a type of product manager if they are more tactical and more internal-facing in an effort to keep the product’s progress on track.
How They Are Different
The line between when a product owner’s role ends and the product manager’s role begins, and whether or not these two functions are just two different aspects of the same position is not always clear. With the overlap, it is possible for a single person to perform both functions simultaneously. However, it is important to point out how they are different:
- A product owner is more tactically focused, while a product manager is more strategically focused.
- A product owner “owns” the product backlog and works with the development and scrum teams to create the product. A product manager is the expert on the product and the customer, developing the product roadmap and supporting the business through the positioning and marketing of the product for sale.
Tips for Project Managers Working With Owners and Managers
Project managers work with “how” and “when” questions on a project, while product owners and product managers deal with the “what” and “why” questions. Together, these three roles can be a powerhouse of achievement. Project managers have an opportunity to optimize the working relationship with product owners and product managers. As a project manager, the following is a list of tips to help you best work with product owners and product managers:
- Act as a single point of contact for the project team, so product owners and product managers can use their time and resources efficiently
- Collaborate and plan together from the beginning of the project
- Sum up discussions and make details available immediately following
- Delegate to-dos and follow up on action items
- Make sure no task is duplicated and no task is left undone
- Ensure everyone on the team is informed and on the same page through mediation and communication
- Proactively manage risks and and head off issues early
- Manage scope changes promptly so they have minimal impact on progress and budget
Featured Partners: Project Management Software
If you’re interested in learning more about top rated project management software, the editors at Project-Management.com actively recommend the following:
Tackle complex projects with Wrike’s award-winning project management software. Break projects into simple steps, assign tasks to team members, and visualize progress with Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and calendars. Manage resource allocation and forecasting with software that’s easy to launch. Automation and AI features strip away time-consuming admin tasks so you can do the best work of your life. Streamline your practices, align your team, and ensure you hit deadlines and stay on budget.
monday.com Work OS is the project management software that helps you and your team plan, execute, and track projects and workflows in one collaborative space. Manage everything from simple to complex projects more efficiently with the help of visual boards, 200+ ready-made templates, clever no-code automations, and easy integrations. In addition, custom dashboards simplify reporting, so you can evaluate your progress and make data-driven decisions.
Start and deliver each billable and non-billable service by centralizing communication. Collaborate with teammates on tasks in real-time, streamline best practices, and let clients in on progress.
Stop spreading work across platforms. Subscribe to tasks to track progress, assign date ranges and deadlines, and check granular steps off with TODOs.