Product Manager vs. Product Owner

product manager vs product owner

The role of a Product Manager varies from company to company and sometimes overlaps with tangential positions. Today, we’ll talk about the similarities and gaps between a Product Manager vs Product Owner.

While a Product Manager will maintain a holistic, outward look over how a product’s strategy is executed, the Product Owner is a member of an Agile Team responsible for identifying Stories and prioritizing the Team Backlog. Product Owners communicate the voice of the customer in the Scrum process.

Though the titles are sometimes used interchangeably and the work may overlap, a Product Manager vs Product Owner comparison highlights many differences. Not all companies have both roles. Smaller companies often have one person taking on the role of both the Product Manager and Product Owner. Product Owners are usually found in agile companies that use Scrum.

Product Manager

Transitioning into a Product Manager position is becoming one of the most sought-after positions in the tech industry. Over the product-market life cycle, the Product Manager is responsible for identifying and promoting the creation of attractive, practical, viable, and sustainable goods that meet consumer needs. To provide it, they work with a diverse group of people to recognize and define consumer needs, comprehend the Solution Context, and create the Program Vision, Roadmap, and Features necessary to address these needs. Much of this will be provided to stakeholders through the lens of KPIs. To see which KPIs are the most critical, we have an excellent article going over the metrics that should be tracked.

Product Owner

While Product Managers have been making a mark on the industry for some time now, the value of having a Product Owner is becoming more widely accepted as a means of enhancing product delivery. 

The Product Owner is a member of the Agile team who acts as the customer’s representative, defining and prioritizing stories in the Team Backlog in collaboration with Product Management and other stakeholders, including other Product Owners. 

This enables the Solution to focus on program goals while preserving technical integrity. The Product Owner should have a strong rapport with the rest of the team, freely sharing ideas, rewards, and culture. However, the Product Owner also attends related Product Management activities for preparing and refining the Program Backlog/Vision.

Responsibilities

The responsibilities of a Product Manager vs Product owner are where the distinction between the roles becomes marked. A Product Manager’s primary role typically consists of attaining the primary business goal of the product, overseeing the creation of the product, ensuring the delivery of the product, as well as communicating with stakeholders that their products are given adequate support to ensure their viability throughout the process.

The Product Owner is heavily involved in schedule backlog refinement and preparation for Program Increment planning, as well as updating the team backlog. The Product Owner is involved in story definition during the case, providing the clarifications needed to help the team with story estimates and sequencing. The entire Agile team, including the Product Owner, collaborates to decide their team’s goals for the next Program Increment.

Product Manager Responsibilities

Product Managers are strategically focused. Their main goal is to make the product successful with both the customer and in the market. Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Setting the strategy and vision of the product to align with business and user goals
  • Building a product roadmap
  • Works with engineers, designers, and stakeholders
  • Requirements evaluation
  • Stakeholder management

Product Owner Responsibilities

Product Owners are tactically focused. They turn the Product Manager’s strategy into tasks and work with other teams in the company to make sure the tasks are being completed. 

Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Be the customer proxy
  • Representing the interests of the stakeholders
  • Keeping the product backlog prioritized
  • Work with the Scrum team
  • Articulating user stories

Overlap

Both Product Manager and Product Owner positions play crucial roles when planning the future release of a product. The Product Owner usually reviews and contributes to the program Vision, Roadmap, and content presentations alongside the Product Manager.

While the Product Manager will own the Vision and the Roadmap, without the aid of Product Owners, the entire system can spend a significant amount of time awaiting explanation, clarification, and acceptance, causing unnecessary bottlenecks.

Skills

The skills necessary for being a successful Product Owner seamlessly translate over to that of a Product Manager.

There may be a stronger focus for a Product Manager to craft compelling user stories or maintain ownership over backlogs. However, these skills, plus the vital ability to delegate responsibility and mediate conflicts, are just as critical under the role of Product Manager.

Product Manager Vs Product Owner

Moving from a Product Owner position up to a Product Manager position is a clear career trajectory for many. Product Owners typically work under a Product Manager and subsequently can become intimately familiar with the duties and responsibilities involved in taking ownership over an entire product.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your career as a Product Manager, schedule a free call with Product Gym. As experts in our field, we can help you with personalized advice on kick-starting your career.

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