Product management vs. project management – which is which? The two terms are often used interchangeably, but although they can both be part of digital product development, they are not the same.
As new, digital businesses continue to arise and grow, so do the roles that support them. The ability to see a project through from start to finish is crucial for any business, but it can be difficult to know where one role ends and another begins.
The terminology in the field of business can be broad, especially when it comes to management roles. Product and project management are crucial for any business that wants to successfully launch a new product or service. Each offers its unique skillsets that can assist in creating an end-to-end process for your business.
What is Product Management?
Product management is all about communication and details. The product manager’s role is to research and plan out a successful roadmap that will meet the customer’s needs as well as the company’s. That includes everything from defining specifications to resource allocation. In this capacity, it’s their responsibility to make sure that a project meets the project timeline and budget.
These managers have an understanding of the entire software development process, from beginning to end. They know what it takes to bring products into development and ensure they’re meeting quality standards and aligning business goals.
What is Project Management?
Project management is the process of creating a timeline, assigning tasks, and making sure those tasks are completed with quality. Project managers help to coordinate all aspects of a project from start to finish.
They can also guide the project team to make sure that everyone is on the same page and working towards a shared goal. A project management professional is responsible for ensuring that every detail of a project is accounted for.
Project managers oversee the development team and successful project execution. This way, any deadlines or restrictions can be met with plenty of time to spare.
How are Product Management and Project Management Different?
First, it’s important to note that product vs project management is not interchangeable. The product manager is typically responsible for the overall product vision, from development and design to final production. They often work with designers, developers, engineers, and marketers to create new products for the marketplace. The skills product managers need to have are strategic thinking, problem-solving, and ultimately responsibility.
In the product management vs. project management debate, project managers are often responsible for coordinating various team members throughout the project life cycle. The key differences are that they’re more focused on executing tasks with great time management and on budget. The project manager’s role is to focus more on short-term goals as opposed to long-term visions.
What are the similarities between Product Management vs. Project Management?
The terms product management and project management are often used interchangeably. What is the difference, though? Product managers generally work on the never-ending product management process, where they oversee the entire process and the product’s life cycle. Whereas a project manager works more in marketing, primarily focusing on the execution.
Both product and project managers are crucial to a company’s success, but each offers its own unique skill sets. The project manager’s job is to execute a project completion. Product managers oversee every step of a product or service’s life cycle.
With both project and product managers, it is vital to have an understanding of all aspects of the business to create an end-to-end process that offers full transparency and consistency. Your business must understand which role best suits its needs before implementing either one.
Product Management vs Project Management: Key Areas of Product Management
Product management, at its core, can be defined as the process of managing a product to meet your organization’s objectives. Products are created with a specific goal in mind, and management ensures that you reach that goal. There are many different areas, including:
- Market research
- Planning new products
- Creating the project schedule
- Launching a new product
- Establishing the design for the new product
- Setting the price for your new product
Product management is the process of maximizing the value of a product idea by anticipating and solving potential problems. It also includes tracking the progress of the product lifecycle.
Product strategy is one of the most important aspects of this management. Product managers are responsible for determining which features will be included in the final product and what elements need to be refined or cut altogether.
The first step in this process is defining the problem that needs to be solved. This requires research into consumer needs and wants.
After you have defined the problem, you will determine the project scope and prioritize it against all other project goals. A product manager will then develop task lists for what needs to be done for this project to be successful as well as when it should launch.
Finally, once all requirements are determined, a product manager will filter through possible solutions until you find one that meets your requirements without compromising on quality or customer satisfaction.
Product Management Process
Product management includes more than research and development. It includes strategy and design, as well as determining what features to include in your product.
After you have made these decisions, you will work with a product team to bring your product to life.
End-to-End Product Management Tools
Project management plays a crucial role in the process of product development. Product managers are typically responsible for determining what products to offer, as well as ensuring that each step in the production process is completed successfully.
They typically work alongside other departments to ensure that the final product meets company standards and is ready for distribution. They can be responsible for anything from designing a new website to creating the packaging for a new product.
Managers often use project management software to create schedules, track budgets, and communicate with stakeholders.
They help determine project feasibility, prioritize tasks, allocate resources, and monitor progress toward key goals throughout the project.
Project managers rely on tools like Microsoft Project or Basecamp to identify risk factors before they arise, maintain communication channels throughout all stages of a project’s life cycle, and ensure stakeholder satisfaction throughout task allocation processes.
Product Management vs Project Management: Key Takeaway
There are many benefits to having both product management and project management roles in your business. A product manager will be able to guide you through the process of developing a new product or service, while a project manager will be able to help you take that product or service to market. Any entrepreneur needs to know what each role entails and where it can fit into their company.
Product Manager vs Project Manager – What’s the Difference?
Several job titles fall under the umbrella of “manager.” The two most common types of managers in the workplace are project managers vs product managers.
Both positions have similar responsibilities, but they also have their challenges and skill set requirements. Understanding the differences between project management and product management can help you determine which position is best for you, your career path, and your future goals.
This article will explain the similarities and differences between project management and product management so you can make an informed decision about which role is right for you.
What Does a Product Manager Do?
A Product Manager is responsible for the success of the product throughout its life cycle. From creating the vision for the product to understanding user needs to overseeing the development and launch of the product, to incorporating user feedback into the product, the product manager is the leader of the product team.
They also have to collaborate with other departments within the company to get their product off the ground. Product managers deal with a development team from the very beginning of a product life cycle.
This includes identifying a need in the market, defining what needs to be done to meet that need, planning how it will be accomplished within an allotted time frame, gathering resources for the successful execution of the plan, and finally launching and marketing the finished product, leading it to successful project completion.
Product Manager Challenges
A product manager’s job is to have a clear product vision and always prioritize the user needs to ensure product success.
Product manager responsibilities include overseeing the entire product lifecycle, from product vision and market research to design and development. The product manager’s role is to be responsible for delivering a marketable product that meets user expectations. And here, product management frameworks like story mapping and product management tools like StoriesOnBoard can be really helpful.
One of the challenges product managers face is making sure that the product roadmap is clear for the entire product team. The product manager focuses on the product strategy and makes sure that everyone is on the same page.
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What Does a Project Manager Do?
A project manager’s role is to manage a specific project. However, they rarely work on just one project but have several projects on hand at all times. Sometimes, they even need to use product roadmaps to help them with product-related tasks.
They oversee the entire process from start to finish. The role of a project manager is to coordinate with all members of the project team (including cross-functional teams), including designers and developers, to ensure that both the project timeline and project resources are respected.
Project managers are responsible for the successful completion of projects. Additionally, project managers deal with both the client and the stakeholders.
The project manager focuses on specific areas, such as managing customer service. This means they’ll often have more responsibilities than a product manager, who tends to focus on one area at a time.
Project Manager Challenges
The project manager spends their workdays making sure that the project execution is on point. They are in charge of managing project teams, scheduling and coordinating what the customer needs, coordinating with engineers and other stakeholders to ensure that everything happens on time, and making sure that the project plan is running its course.
A project manager must make sure all the deadlines are met, oversee the budget, and coordinate with the team members so that every task would be completed before moving to the next phase of development.
Project management is the process of managing a team to perform a project. A project manager needs to have strong leadership skills and be able to motivate others.
Product management, on the other hand, is a more business-oriented role focused on requiring technological knowledge for software development and excellent communication and collaboration skills. Product management skills need to be more analytical since they need to monitor product performance and make decisions based on data.
One way you can differentiate between these two roles is by thinking about how long it takes for them to see results: product managers can take up to nine months before seeing measurable results, while project managers will see results much faster (within weeks or months). Of course, this varies depending on the company and the size of its projects.
Both a product manager and a project manager have the same business goals, which are to strive for a successful project, customer satisfaction, and successful delivery. Now, onto some key differences.
Product Manager’s Skills
Product manager talents are limitless. Successful product managers manage the Product Process Matrix and the product’s idea, development, manufacture, launch, and growth. Thus, skill requirements are high. Here is a unified list of skills required by product management.
Cross-functional cooperation, conducting product team meetings, delivering effective presentations for stakeholder management, connecting with consumers and clients, and leading product teams.
Product managers must understand customer needs and translate them into product features easy to understand for a product team.
- Strategic thinking
Product managers should understand the market and competitors and build a product roadmap. They must identify audiences, anticipate a product life cycle, position products in the market, and devise novel ways to upgrade or launch items.
- Technical or production skills
working with software and applications needs a broad, if not in-depth understanding of software development roles, frameworks, and tools.
They must do market research, collect customer feedback, and analyze it to develop figures. Product managers routinely crunch figures and develop business plans, thus they need basic data skills.
Project Manager’s Skills
A project management professional understands the project scope. Project management roles need organization, multitasking, and problem-solving skills.
Project managers should be able to organize resources, distribute funds, report progress, and deliver projects on schedule. This includes project planning and a defined beginning.
They are skilled at creating calendars that outline who is responsible for what and when. They should have great time management, task management, and people skills to delegate last-minute duties.
- Manage risk
Risk management is the process of recognizing that mistakes will be made and preparing for them. Veteran project managers usually recognize dangers and prepare contingency plans.
- Manage cost
Without cost management abilities, project managers face restricted funding. They need to prove to the executives and stakeholders that they can complete the project on time and within an acceptable budget by using wise financial management.
- Have everything under control
Define project scopes, manage quality, and monitor stakeholders. Before launching a project, an expert project manager will set goals, objectives, constraints, KPIs, and results.
Product Manager vs Project Manager- What Skills Do They Have in Common?
Both product managers and project managers need comparable soft skills to succeed.
They should have a data-driven attitude to operate scientifically and base planning and decision-making on technical or financial department results.
Both product and project managers need strong interpersonal abilities. Product managers must sell their product vision to stakeholders and work with other departments. Project managers must organize, inspire, and lead a team to meet goals.
Product and project managers are adaptable. Both professions need cross-functional cooperation, thus they must fit everywhere. Both jobs must monitor productivity with so many tasks and responsibilities. Problem-solving, leadership, time management, and negotiating skills overlap between these two jobs.
What Tools Do Product Manager vs Project Manager Use Everyday?
Every PM uses digital tools to keep on track, manage projects, and interact with team members. Some of the most common project management tools include Slack, Asana, Loom, and Sketch.
Can a Product Manager Be a Project Manager?
Both of these roles are related to managing projects and processes within an organization. But they have some different responsibilities.
For example, a product manager is more focused on the entire process, from conception to launch. A project manager’s main responsibility is typically to manage a specific project from start to finish. As a result, a product manager may not be able to take on all the responsibilities of a project manager or vice versa. It depends on what type of company you’re working for and the skills that you have.
When the Two Roles Are in the Same Team: Advantages and Difficulties
When a project has a product manager who is completely devoted to increasing the value of the product, the project manager may anticipate a lot more than deliverable reviews.
A good product manager regularly gathers client and product requirements and further specifies the needs of the product to optimize value output.
Project managers and team members will be encouraged to do everything they can to provide high-quality work promptly. Communication between the two positions is crucial here.
Based on their knowledge of the client’s business objectives, the product manager must express their demands and properly prioritize their job. To manage the project effectively and in the best interests of both teams, the project manager must be aware of these needs and priorities.
If requirements aren’t well-defined or understood, it will be harder for the project team to know what they need to do.
If work priorities change often or aren’t clear, the project team loses its focus and can’t work as well.
Product and project managers must work together in harmony for the project to be completed successfully. It’s greatest when it isn’t product manager vs project manager, but instead, there’s cooperation.
Benefits of Having Both Roles On the Same Team
When a product manager and project manager are on the same team, the client knows there is a devoted individual whose top priority is the quality of their product. Additionally, there’s a separate, dedicated individual whose top priority is executing their project within scope, on time, and budget.
Instead of one person being pushed in two directions, two people collaborate.
Product manager and project manager collaboration aren’t always simple, but they can be effective.
The product manager should challenge the project manager to examine what’s best for the product regarding the client’s business objectives. The project manager should challenge the product manager to manage those business goals by prioritizing requirements within the budget and timetable.
Both positions may coexist and be effective if done appropriately. If each role is mishandled or disrespected, both the product and the project will fail.
If a product manager and project manager exist, they should have their regular meeting at least once a week to align on the project and product development progress, backlog prioritization, pipeline status, and problem-solving.
This gives the product manager the data they need to validate product progress and value.
This also provides the project manager with the information needed to plan team execution and time management, as well as how that influences budget, timetable, and scope.
Education, Job Titles & Salary
If you want to be a product manager, you need to hold a bachelor’s degree in business administration or marketing with an emphasis on technology. And while there are no requirements to become a project manager, it is more common that they hold at least a bachelor’s degree in business management or engineering.
Project managers typically come from engineering or business backgrounds, while product managers usually have degrees in marketing or some type of product manager certification. The best way to understand the difference between project management and product management is to examine their educational backgrounds.
Job titles for both of these positions vary from one job ad to another. However, the titles for product management are more clearly defined than for project management. Let’s take a look at each one.
Product Manager’s Job Titles
Product managers stand at the nexus of IT, design, and business teams. Therefore, four very clear separate sectors have developed in recent years.
- Technical Product Manager
- Data/Analytics Product Manager
- Product Marketing Manager
- Product Growth Manager
Each of the titles slightly differs, but these four are the four most common to occur on the market right now.
Another executive-level job title has emerged in recent years, which is the Director of Product Management.
Project Manager’s Job Titles
The job titles for project managers are more ambiguous than those for product managers. Names can change depending on the type of organization, the market, or the whims of an HR executive. Project managers go by a variety of names, including Implementation Manager, Team Assistant, and Stage Manager.
Project manager occupations are more popular in the software/IT business, building industry, engineering industry, insurance area, and architecture/design sector. However, these job titles can be divided into three groups:
Entry-Level Job Titles
- Project Coordinator
- Project Scheduler
- Assistant Project Manager
- Project Manager
Supporting Role Job Titles
- Project Administrator
- Project Support Officer
- Project Planner
- Project Controller
- Document Controller
Executive-level Job Titles
- Project Leader
- Program Manager
- Project Director
- Chief Project Officer
- Senior Project Manager
- Project Portfolio Manager
- Project Portfolio Office Executive
- Project Management Office Executive
The key is to make sure you don’t apply for either function just based on job names and to carefully review the job description. Sometimes what you think the job requirements are based on the job title alone may not be the case after all.
Salary for Product Manager vs Project Manager
A product manager in the United States makes an average base pay of $108,992, while a project manager makes an average base salary of $66,137, according to Glassdoor. Remember that these data reflect means simply and do not indicate the industry. Nevertheless, in virtually every position that is comparable, product management earns more than project management.
However, certain industries prioritize one role above another. For instance, project managers in the engineering, aerospace, and pharmaceutical industries make roughly $130,000 per year. In contrast, in industries that prioritize the needs of their customers, such as IoT, software, entertainment, healthcare, and energy, product managers are often compensated at a higher rate than project managers.
In summary, a product manager is responsible for managing the entire life cycle of a product, while a project manager comes in to manage individual projects.
In most cases, the product manager will have more education and experience in the field, while the project manager will be skilled in taking on a multitude of tasks. This article has shown you the differences between a project manager and a product manager, and how these two roles can play an important part in your business.