Project Management vs Product Management

These positions are often considered interchangeable, if not synonymous. Although they grow from different disciplines, requiring different knowledge and skills. Some companies try to assign both roles to one manager.

Product or project?

What is the difference? It is enough to take a superficial look at the characteristics of these concepts.

A product is something tangible, it is not limited in time, its development continues indefinitely (when it stops, the product begins to die).

While a project is a process that has a clear framework (time, budget). Work on a product consists of many projects, but a product cannot be obtained from a single project.

What does the project manager and product manager do?

The product manager determines the application development strategy, prioritizes releases, communicates with customers and defines a set of functions. Goal: create an application that users love.

The project manager coordinates the work of the application development team, implementing the strategy defined by the product or top management. Purpose: developing the application on time and on budget.

Exploring the audience, analyzing data, communicating with users, testing dozens of hypotheses in close collaboration with marketers, designers, sales and support, the product manager ultimately decides what the user needs.

Using tools and methodologies, utilizing team resources, assessing and reducing risks, the project manager decides HOW to create the product, meeting the deadlines and budget. And in his daily work, he is responsible for achieving this result.

What is the difference between the product manager and the project manager?

The difference between these roles in several key things:

Focus. It is impossible to make 10 good products at the same time. A “lead” and “hand over” 10 projects is possible;)

Team. A good product for the team is protection and support. The project manager, alas, thinks more about the timing, budget and customer.

Time. A product can afford to plan for several years ahead. For a project, the planning horizon is limited by the duration of the project.

Your contribution. The product manager must have the right and courage to decide for the entire product, and be responsible for this. The project manager manages the execution of someone’s decisions.

Customers. For the product, the customer is the user. For a project, product owners and stakeholders are most often the customers.

The product manager must develop the right product, and the project manager is responsible for the proper development of the product.

-Silicon Valley Product Group founder Marty Kagan

What questions do the product manager and project manager answer?

The product manager answers the question What and Why? What needs to be done and why it needs to be done.

The project manager answers the question How, Who and When? How to make a project, who will do it and when the project will be done.

Can both roles include one person?

Practice shows that combining both roles in one person is difficult. These are two poles, two different types of activity, different working methods, different approaches. Of course, you can combine all in one, but the result will be less effective than if they are different people. the reason is simple, switching from one activity to another, switching from one management tool to another. A good analogy is the loss of a project manager when switching from one project to another.

Have any questions? Looking forward to hearing from you soon!


Canada: Montreal

Ukraine: Zaporizhya