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Differences between Product Manager, Project Manager, Product Owner?

By Lieselot, 27 november 2014

When a friend asked me what I do, I started to explain it to her when she suddenly stopped me and asked: “You say 3 different titles, what is it exactly you’re doing?”

That start me thinking. It is only a name, why are there are so many names and are we not mis-using function names? My conclusion is that, depending on the organization your working for, Product Manager includes both the functions Project Manager and Product Owner.


What, exactly, is a Product Manager?

I started to Google with my job description next to me. I was hired as a Product Manager. There are a lot of nice blogs about this subject here some good awnsers.
In the book; Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love Hardcover – 2008 by Marty Cagan:

“to discover a product that is valuable, usable and feasible”

Martin Eriksson said in his blog:

“product management as the intersection between business, technology and user experience”



To sum it up

  1. Setting a vision for the product
    – Assimilate huge amounts of information.
  2. Spread the word in your business
    – Get dogmatic and be passionate about your product.
  3. Building a plan to reach that vision
    – A roadmap of incremental improvements and iterative development .
    – Your team is coming up with better designs, better code and better solutions to the customers problem.
  4. Getting to the details
    – Work day in, day out with the development team as a product owner
  5. The product is finally out there
    – Poring over data again: Testing, feedback looking for awnsers: Did you solve the right problem? Do your users get the product? Will they pay for the product?


What, exactly, is a Product Owner?


When Agile working method scrum came in to being, so did the SCRUM product owner.  In my opinion a Product owner is a part of the Product Manager function.

Someone on a blog said, and I agree:

Product Owner is a role, not a job title, to be filled by someone with a real job title like (in many/most cases) Technical Product Manager.

To sum it up

  1. Prioritizing the team backlog.
  2. Defining the product as you go, solving problems as they pop up and closely managing scope so you can get the product out on time.
  3. The product owner must collaborate closely with development team and customers to ensure there is a clear understanding of what features are needed in the product or application.
  4. To maintain quality is a significant role.


What, exactly, is a Project Manager?

A Project Manager’s job is to make sure a project is on time and on budget. That task often falls to the Product Manager (since they already have a high-level view of the project), but it’s a separate role that can be performed by a separate person.