Product Manager vs Project Manager: What’s the Difference?

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Product Manager vs Project Manager

While both are leadership roles and the titles are similar, there’s a difference between a product manager and a project manager as Jennifer Bridges, PMP, explains.

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference!

These are the different roles of a product manager and a project manager

Of course, these roles can also vary greatly depending on the types of products or projects being executed in the organization. For example, manufacturing product managers are responsible for tangible products, while software development product managers will have different teams and agile workflows to assist in the software product launch.

Additionally, while both roles are technically geared for the delivery of products and projects, there are different processes and best practices required. For example, many project managers are accustomed to working within the PMI guidelines for best project management practices. Whereas product managers might rely on agile product development, lean manufacturing processes or lean software development methodologies.

What Is a Project Manager?

A project manager is a leader who oversees cross-functional teams through the project life cycle to guarantee successful project completion. Project managers are in charge of managing teams during the initiating, planning, scheduling, monitoring and closing phases of a project.

Let’s take a look at the most important project manager responsibilities.

Project Manager Responsibilities

Project managers have many different roles and responsibilities throughout the project life cycle, as each stage has its own challenges. Here are the most important responsibilities of a project manager.

  • Assemble and manage a project management team.
  • Develop a project plan.
  • Create project management documents such as a project budget, project schedule, resource management plan and risk management plan.
  • Use project management skills and project management tools to manage each step of the project life cycle.
  • Monitor all the project management knowledge areas of a project, such as task, resource and time management.

Project Manager Skills & Certifications

There are several ways to become a project manager. Here’s a quick overview of the most common project management skills and certifications.

Skills

Certifications

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification by the PMI.
  • Project Management Professional (PMP) certification by the Project Management Institute (PMI).
  • PRINCE2 Foundation/PRINCE2 Practitioner certification by Axelos.

What Is a Product Manager?

A product manager leads a team through the product development process. This involves being responsible for overseeing the product strategy, product roadmap and product life cycle.

Product Manager Responsibilities

Here are the main responsibilities of a product manager throughout the product development process.

  • Create a product vision.
  • Supervise the market research process and define customer needs for the product team.
  • Define KPIs for product performance and product success.
  • Create and manage a product roadmap.

Product Manager Skills & Certifications

There are several ways to become a product manager. Here’s a quick overview of the most common skills and certifications for a product manager.

Skills

Certifications

  • Product Manager certificate by the Product School.
  • Product Management certification by the Pragmatic Institute.
  • Certified Product Manager Credential by the Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM)

Video Transcription

Today we’re talking about a product manager versus a project manager. They sound similar but the roles are different. Let’s take a look at how.
First of all, the product manager is responsible for leading the team to deliver the end product. They’re responsible for the strategy, the product roadmap, as well as the feature definition of the product.

There is also a separate product life cycle for delivering that product that the product manager is responsible for managing. They also are responsible for leading the product team. The product manager also can work directly with the project manager as well as the customer and the product team.

The project manager is responsible for leading the team to deliver a successful project. They’re responsible for the strategy and the process flow of the project. They’re responsible for the project plan as well as the requirements for the project.

And, there is a separate project life cycle the project manager is responsible for managing. They also have an entire project team that they’re responsible for leading. The project manager can work directly with the product manager. They can also work directly with the customer and the project team as well as the product team.

Both roles can be perceived as CEO-like. It depends upon the complexity and the span of control and if it includes being responsible for the profit and loss statement or forecasting for the project. Then, there are a couple of areas of conflict that can arise. First of all, who owns the product road map? Of course, you would suspect that the product manager wants to own that, but sometimes the project manager does as well.

So, you have to determine who really owns and is responsible for the product road map. And then, who gets to talk to the product team or the customer? Both can, but as you can suspect, then it can get confusing if too many people are going to each and asking for input or provide status.

If you need a tool that can help you manage your product or your project, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.

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