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

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feature image: Product Owner vs Product Manager: What's the Difference?

There’s a lot of talk about product managers and product owners lately. But what’s the difference? What are their roles, challenges, and responsibilities?

In this article, we will explore the differences between product managers and product owners and the skills required for each role.

First, let’s define product management and ownership roles.

Definition: product manager

A product manager handles the development and delivery of a company’s products. They work with cross-functional teams to ensure that the products meet the needs of the customers and the company.

The product manager is the liaison between the customer and the development team. They are responsible for gathering customer feedback, requirements, and market analysis to drive product development. They have to ensure staying free from marketing myopia while delivering reliable products.

They work with marketing to develop go-to-market plans and launch new products. product managers also play a key role in post-launch support. They check if products are meeting customer needs and resolve any issues that may arise. They play a vital role in the success of a company’s product portfolio.

Definition: product owner

In product management, a product owner handles the interests of stakeholders in a scrum team. They are responsible for product backlog prioritization and aligning with the vision for the product.

product owner responsibilities illustration
Source: LetsScrumIt

The product owner works with the team to ensure that the product is delivered on time and within budget. To be effective, product owners need to have a deep understanding of the product, the market, and the stakeholders.

They also need to communicate with both the development team and the stakeholders. Product owners typically report to a project manager or a product manager.

Product manager vs Product owner: Main differences

There are a few key differences between product managers and product owners.

Product managers are typically more senior than product owners and have more experience in the industry. They tend to be more strategic and focused on long-term goals and objectives.

Product owners are usually more junior and have less experience. They tend to be more tactical and focused on shorter-term goals and objectives.

Product managers have a broader scope of responsibility than product owners. They are responsible for the success of the product, while product owners are responsible for a single aspect or feature of the product.

Product managers report to the CEO or CTO, while product owners usually report to the product manager.

The responsibilities of a product manager and a product owner

A product manager handles the vision and strategy of a product, while a product owner handles the product roadmap and backlog.

A product manager may be involved in creating the product roadmap, but their primary focus is on setting the direction and vision for the product.

A product owner handles the product roadmap and aligns with the product vision. They focus on features in the product backlog and work with the development team. They ensure that these features are delivered according to schedule.

responsibilities product manager vs product owner
Source: SmartSheet

To be successful, both roles need to have a deep understanding of the market, the competition, and the needs of the target users.

Product managers! Learn how to prioritize your projects with an easy framework.

The skills required for each role

Product manager

A product manager is responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for a product. They work with cross-functional teams to bring a product to market. The skills required for this role are:

  • Doing market research and identifying user stories
  • Defining the product strategy and vision
  • Creating and prioritizing the product roadmap
  • Working with engineering to define and build features
  • Defining success metrics and ensuring that they are met
  • Communicating regularly with stakeholders on progress and roadblocks

The ideal candidate for this role will have experience in both product management and engineering. They will think about opportunities and challenges while also being able to roll up their sleeves and get into the details when necessary. They will be excellent communicators and be able to build strong relationships with stakeholders.

Product owner

The product owner role includes working with the development team and stakeholder community. They make sure that the right product is built. They represent the voice of the customer throughout the development process. The skills required for a product owner role are:

1. Understanding the customer – The product owner should have a deep understanding of the customer’s needs and be able to articulate them clearly to the development team. They should also be able to advocate for the customer within the organization.

2. Vision and strategy – The product owner should have a clear vision for the product and be able to articulate it to the development team and stakeholders. They should also be able to develop and execute a strategy for achieving that vision.

3. Business acumen – The product owner should have a good understanding of business principles and how to apply them to product development. They should be able to make decisions that balance the needs of the customer, the organization, and the development team.

4. Technical expertise – The product owner should have a good understanding of technology and how it can be applied to solving business problems. They should be able to work with the development team to find technical solutions that meet the needs of the customer.

5. Communication – The product owner should be able to communicate the vision for the product and the strategy for achieving it to the development team and other stakeholders. They should be able to answer questions about the product and its development.

How the two roles work together

Both the product manager and product owner play important roles in product development. In a successful organization, the product manager and product owner roles work together to create and deliver value. Both roles work with stakeholders to ensure that the product meets customer needs and business goals.

The product manager is focused on the long-term vision for the product, while the product owner is focused on the immediate implementation. The product manager creates the product strategy and roadmap, which provides a high-level view of the features and functionality that need to be delivered. The product owner works with development teams to focus on and deliver features in each sprint.

The benefits of having both a product manager and a product owner on your team

The benefits of having both a product manager and a product owner on your team are many.

First, it ensures that there is always someone available to make decisions about the product.

Second, it allows the product manager to focus on long-term strategy while the product owner focuses on short-term execution.

Third, having both roles filled ensures that all stakeholders have a clear understanding of who handles what.

Finally, it helps to create a more balanced workload for everyone on the team.

By having both a product manager and a product owner, you can be sure that your team will be able to successfully develop and launch your next great product.

Product manager vs product owner wrap up

Although the product manager and product owner roles share some similarities, there are key differences between the two. The main difference is that the product manager is responsible for understanding and managing the business side of things. While the product owner is focused on creating a great user experience and ensuring that the team meets its goals.

To be successful in either role, it’s important to have strong communication skills and a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve. By working together, the product manager and product owner can help ensure that each step of the product development process goes smoothly.

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