Product Manager

The difference between a product manager and a project manager is probably one of the biggest puzzles in the tech sphere. Even professionals get confused often when it comes to drawing a line between these two terms. 

When both roles largely overlap, it is significant to understand the difference between their set of responsibilities, purposes, and KPIs.  

In this post, we will shed light on the difference between a product manager and a project manager. So let’s get going. 

First, let’s understand Products vs Projects.

Product

A product is something that gets developed for problem-solving, fulfils a need, or addresses any demand. 

It could be,

A physical item just like your android phone
An abstract item just like a concept or an event 
A piece of software 
A service like fitness classes or haircutting 

In return, a product delivers tangible advantages to those who developed it like,

Generating revenue 
Getting new customers 
Accomplishing business objectives 

You can say products are long-term efforts with constant improvement.  

Project

A project is a set of activities thoroughly planned to get absolute results. 

Irrespective of its size, any project lasts only a few days/months/year. It is a set of inputs and outputs which will guide toward a specific objective.  

Projects also have time limits and deadlines. It means, unlike a product, projects are well defined and confined in their scope. 

Product Management vs Project Management

Product Management 

It is an organisational activity accountable to prioritise, planning, anticipating, and reviewing the product development and relevant features during its life cycle. 

Usually, product management stands in the centre of all the evolving needs, operations, and stakeholders that need to line up for product success. 

Project Management 

It is a skill set that helps you get tasks done within the stipulated timeframe and budget. 

It is the process of planning and performing everyday tasks needed to transform tactical plans into actionable tasks and deadlines. All this works towards a single project goal. 

Here, time is the key factor. Results usually need to be delivered within a particular time frame, compared to product management that will continue throughout the entire product life cycle.

Product vs Project Manager Responsibilities 

Product Manager Responsibilities 

Vision development 
Management of user stories, approval standards, and other documentation 
Product market assessment and promotion 
Product strategy development  
Lead product prototypes development 
Control development 
Organise product launch

Project Manager Responsibilities

Establish development targets 
Time, budget, and risks estimation
Create process documentation 
Assign roles 
Progress monitoring to ensure on-time delivery 
Manage QA operations 

Product vs Project Manager KPIs

Product manager KPIs for product success measurement 

Pirate metrics (Awareness, Activation, Acquisition, Retention, Revenue, Referral)
Traffic (Total users found and used the product)
Net promoter score (Percentage of loyal and satisfied users)

Project manager KPIs for improvement monitoring 

Cumulative flow (Different types of tasks at each project scope)
Velocity (Amount of work done by one development team in one sprint)
Flow efficiency (Distribution among actual work and time gaps)  
Cycle time (Time needed to conclude a single task, both execution and rework)

Product vs Project Manager Skill Set 

Common Skill Set Effective communication skillNegotiation Problem-solving Product Manager Skill SetStrategic approach and vision Analysis Marketing skills User assessment Product success evaluation Project Manager Skill SetKnowledge of software development methods Budgeting Tech knowledge Certification Scheduling Leadership Relationship management 

Product vs Project Manager Certifications  

Product ManagerProduct School – Product Manager Certificate AIPMM Certified Product Manager Credential Pragmatic Institute – Certified Product ManagerProject Manager PMP (Project Management Professional) CSM (Certified Scrum Master)CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management)PSM (Professional Scrum Master)

Who Is Better?

From a product perspective 

If your product will keep evolving and you are looking for someone who can deal with your product and improve its value during its life cycle, it is recommended to hire a product manager. 

If you need your product to be developed from start to end within a specific time and has the least evolution beyond that time, then a project manager will help you.   

From a project perspective 

If the project is among many related to a single product, you should have a project manager to deal with the project execution and team management. 

If your project is one where budget or time is not a focal point, then a product manager may help you. 

In a Nutshell 

Even though product and project managers’ responsibilities intersect, the intents of their work differ. Hire a different person for each role, as both emphasise their tasks. 

If product and project management does not diverge, the duties of both will suffer. Product managers can not drive exponential growth, and project managers can not deal with potential risks. 

If you are looking to hire dedicated developers with a project manager role as a whole team, contact us today. We have a team of professionals who are always ready to help you, irrespective of your project complexity.  

By Williumson

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