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Product Manager vs Product Owner

Unsurprisingly, the role of a Product Manager varies from company to company and sometimes overlaps with other positions. For intance, one common comparison is Product Manager vs. Product Owner role.


Mainly, a Product Manager’s chief role is on the strategic side of the business. On the other hand, the Product Owner is on the tactical side. While a Product Manager will maintain a holistic, outward look over executing a product’s strategy, 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.


A Product Manager vs Product Owner comparison highlights many differences, but the titles can be used interchangeably in job descriptions because not all companies have both roles. For example, smaller companies often have one person taking on the role of both the Product Manager and Product Owner.

Product Manager

The 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 the right product for their target audience, Product Managers work with a diverse group of people. their gaol is to recognize and define consumer needs and comprehend the Solution Context, then create the Program Vision, Roadmap, and Features necessary to address these needs. The Product Manager identifies the metrics to track to provide key performance indicators (KPIs) to stakeholders.

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. They define and prioritize 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. 

Product Manager Responsibilities 

Product Managers are strategically focused. Their primary role typically consists of attaining the primary business goal of the product, overseeing the creation of the product, and ensuring the delivery of the product. On top of this, they must communicate with stakeholders to ensure their products receive adequate support, assuring their viability throughout the process. 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 play a large role 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. 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

When looking at the Product Manager vs Product Owner positions in terms of importance for product release, both play a crucial role in planning. 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.

Which Position Is Right For You?

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 Owner 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.

When applying for jobs, don’t limit yourself to one title or the other. Companies often use these titles interchangeably on their job descriptions to bring in the best candidates for the role. As you move through the hiring process for either position, the role will evolve and change from what is written in the job description.

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 to make for a seamless transition.

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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