‘Are you a project or product manager? What’s the difference? Aren’t they the same thing?’ Product managers and project managers are asked this question all too often. To some, these two words are interchangeable, but not to the individuals who work in this field. Now it’s time to solve the “product management vs project management” saga once and for all.
It is all too common for people to mistake product management for project management. They assume the two roles are one in the same, that a product manager can do a project manager’s job, and vice versa.
However, there are many more major differences between each role than people may think. A project manager’s role is focused on internal and tactical, while the product manager’s focus is external and focused on the customers, and on the product strategy.
Product Management vs Project Management
Project managers oversee the development of the product, utilizing three main tactics in order to successfully manage their team.
-First is risk management, which includes assessing and managing potential risks.
-Second is resource management, which involves making sure the team has all the materials they need.
-Last is scope management, ensuring that the team manages their time and costs correctly.
Product managers have a whole other list of responsibilities which extend beyond the lifecycle of the product. Their responsibilities reach outside the office, as they are highly involved with meeting the customers’ needs.
This includes researching what their clients expect from their product, defining the product vision and strategy, and overseeing the interaction between various other departments such as sales, engineering and marketing.
Although these roles are very separate, there is occasionally overlap within companies because their responsibilities both involve managing and overseeing the product development process.
In order to avoid the overlap which could lead to a lack of efficiency, there are many strategies companies can implement, however it is up to each manager to stick to their own tasks. If they do overlap, however, it is important to have open communication between the individuals so productivity isn’t lessoned.