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Product Manager Vs. Project Manager – The Differences Between Two Similar Professions

by Samir Nazic
Product Manager Vs. Project Manager – The Differences Between Two Similar Professions

There are no two jobs that are more ambiguous than these. To understand the purpose of this post, ask any product manager how frequently they have been mistaken for a project manager or vice versa. Both positions depend on teamwork, occasionally overlapping duties, and have similar names. The dispute between product and project managers has been at the forefront for several reasons.

This seemingly innocent muddle, however, could point to future regions of conflict. Who determines, for instance, what goes on the product roadmap? Who oversees the backlog of products? And who works in tandem with whom? Should a product manager use a hands-on or a strategic approach? Should a project manager prioritize meeting client demands above execution?

The two positions must clearly define their tasks and responsibilities, delineate their respective spheres of authority, and identify opportunities for collaboration because they are both essential to creating new products and will inevitably cross paths.

You will discover in this article what product management is, how it differs from its counterpart project management, and what tasks product managers and project managers are responsible for. It should make the argument between product managers and project managers clearer to you.

Project Vs. Product

Person touching tablet

Anything you can sell to a market to address a need or fulfill a desire qualifies as a product. Products go through a cycle with several phases. The process of creating a product starts with its conception, continues with its development, management, introduction to the market, and retirement when its demand declines. A product team often creates products.

A project is a straightforward undertaking started with the intention of developing a unique good or service. What must be provided by a specific date in time is clearly defined in a project. Projects are often carried out by a project team, similar to the previous item.

Avoiding the decline phase is a product’s ultimate objective. A product development team might thus launch several projects under its purview to enhance, broaden, or diversify product offerings.

What Does a Product Manager Do?

Product manager

The position of a product manager is quite strategic. They are responsible for managing the whole product lifecycle.

This includes:

  • recognizing user demands and business needs
  • deciding which items or features are worthwhile to produce, and then creating a product vision
  • establishing a product strategy with a budget and goals
  • Taking charge of every step of the product development process and post-production till the product’s life cycle is complete

They continuously assess the market and the state of the competition, releasing new features to beat competitors and sensing unmet consumer demands. Key performance indicators, including sales, user adoption, retention, and other success indicators, are tracked after a product launch.

Excellent product managers develop solutions with high user acceptance, exponential revenue growth, and maybe industry disruption.

Product managers collaborate closely with sales reps, project managers, QA engineers, designers, and developers. Unofficially, they are in charge of maintaining harmony between these many teams and resolving conflicting requests from the senior leadership and consumers. Engineering teams are led by product managers, particularly in SaaS businesses. Engineering is available to help, but they are the ones that know what consumers need best.

What Does a Project Manager Do?

Project manager

Conversely, a project manager is more tactical and more concerned with execution. They dissect large-scale strategic plans into manageable tasks with distinct KPIs and oversee a single project or project from beginning to end until they produce the precise results that the organization requires. Project managers also manage risks by spotting possible bottlenecks and taking steps to reduce them.

The primary responsibilities of a project manager are to carry out the vision and strategy that the product team or leadership has communicated, set a timetable, allocate resources, and provide a thorough action plan to complete the project on schedule and within budget. Overall, project managers compromise on schedule, cost, and quality.

They are skilled at translating ideas from meetings and design sprints into subsequent concrete actions. Employing project managers helps businesses optimize productivity and income by ensuring that projects are finished on time and within their allocated budgets.

Day-To-Day Responsibilities

Person showing on paper

Product Manager

  • Describe your product strategy and vision.
  • Choose when to release products.
  • Develop concepts for upcoming and new product developments.
  • Identifying customer requirements and suggesting product features.
  • Developing cross-functional skills.
  • Carrying out market analysis.
  • Establishing product roadmaps.
  • Planning alternative product strategies.
  • Ensuring efficient communication between the parties.

Project Manager

  • Budget and resources are distributed.
  • Creating a project schedule.
  • Scheduling project activities and choosing project scopes.
  • Delivering definite business results by a deadline.
  • Fix existing and upcoming bottlenecks.
  • Cost and time estimates.
  • Track developments and possibilities.
  • Assess and control hazards.
  • Observe and manage quality.
  • Make ROI calculations and share them with the stakeholders.

Wrapping Up

Definitions from textbooks may not always apply as well as we would want in the real world. In practice, it is not unusual for a project manager to adopt a more strategic posture or for a product manager to handle more tactical or task-based duties inside the organization. In actuality, these jobs converge more than you may think. They are both working toward the same thing, a successful product.

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