Product and project managers each perform unique functions. Product Managers define strategic business objectives which lead to different projects. The program manager position tends to be highly variable from industry to industry, or even between companies in the same industry. The key difference is that with Agile, the feature teams are set up to own a longer-term pipeline for feature development whereas in a Waterfall context, teams are usually setup more functionally (Web team, backend team, UX team etc). Our post, What is Project Management: An A to Z Guide is an in-depth look at what project management involves. For Product, it is Product-Market fit and measured by some KPI related to revenue, whereas for Program it is efficient delivery as measured by efficiency and predictable output. Program Managers are likely to get a little closer to how things are implemented. Prioritization Technical Program Managers vs Product Managers vs Product Managers – Technical vs Engineering Managers. Project Management:The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements 3. In short, product management is the high-level strategy, and project management is the tactical execution. Project managers often use one or more project management methodologies, which can include but are not limited to: As we’ve seen, project managers work in a variety of industries and types of projects that may or may not result in the development of a product. The key difference between the product manager vs Project Manager is that the Product Manager deals with “what”, while the Project Manager is in charge of the “how” The Product Manager should be in charge of managing the feature requests, creating requirements, managing backlogs and other important responsibilities with “what” the organization is building. The Project Manager is probably the best known of all of these roles because it has been around for a long time and transcends industry and processes. Too many teams struggle with the nuanced differences between Product Manager, Product Owner, Program Manager, and Project Manager. Project Management. Things that can be done vs things that cannot, these are by far the hardest decisions. Program Management shares an emphasis on delivery with Project Management but is looking at it more holistically in terms of creating an efficient delivery pipeline for multiple projects, rather than delivering a single project. This made the role inherently strategic, because getting product-market fit right, is what would make everything else work. Learn why Clarizen is the right choice to engage your workforce and accelerate your business. Product Management vs Project Management in an Age of Continuous Delivery. This individual must represent a deep proficiency in at least one of the areas that touch product management, and a passion for or fluency in the others. Because product management is ultimately responsible for the product’s success (or failure) in the market, a product manager will primarily concern herself by answering the question, “Why?” Why build the product this … Project Managers focus on coordinated delivery and is singularly focused on aligning all parties to complete a delivery, to a given projected date. In a Waterfall process, you’re more likely to have functional teams rather than autonomous feature teams that means there are more cross-team dependencies to be coordinated – this is typically where you’ll see Project Managers playing an analogous role to Program Managers in the Agile context. Scrum, defines the Product Owner as having similar responsibilities of a traditional Product Manager but with a more tactical and inward-facing focus. Program Manager specifications often have more detail than Product Manager specifications. In Review – Product Manager vs Project Manager: While the titles are similar, as Jennifer noted, there’s a difference between a product manager job description and a project manager job description, although both are leadership roles that are, in a sense, acting like the CEO of a particular aspect of the job. Product Management began as a subset of Brand Marketing, in the Consumer Packaged goods space. I’ve created this chart to capture the key differences between them. Understanding the distinctions between these roles can help you navigate the sometimes confusing world of enterprise project management, and can also help you evaluate possible future career paths. Product management vs. Project management By Jeff Lash. Project Management is mostly practiced with large-scale IT deliverables that are known up-front and executed using Waterfall process. The role of the Product Manager was fairly clear until it entered the digital ecosystem in the 1990s. It can mean at least three different roles- first is the product manager, second is the project manager, and the third one is a program manager. Some stages of product management are identical to project management, such as planning. By definition, project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities, to meet project requirements. As a result of this Agile transformation, it is not uncommon to see traditional Business Analysts in an IT context, playing the role of Product Owner, sometimes even with an updated title of Product Manager. Following are some definitions related to project management as defined by the Project Management Institutelink-external . Programs usually span a far greater duration than a project. Product and project managers see the same work through different lenses. The Difference Between Project Management and Product Management. The Project Manager is probably the best known of all of these roles because … The reason so many Internet companies still define product management as including project management is because many of our practices came from the shipped software world. When aligned properly, they both can shine. Product Manager. Products have a life cycle that consists of multiple stages. For small Products it is simple – the Product Manager owns market strategy for the Product as well as the Product Owner role for feeding the team with requirements on what to build. 1. Table 1: Program Management vs. Project Management Delivering the "Whole Product" To explore further, let's consider the concept of the "whole product". The words are so close because the two concepts are so similar. Product management roles: The product manager and beyond . To learn more, review our, organization’s overall portfolio of projects. To that end, a Program Manager is similar to a Product Manager because they’re taking longer-term ownership of something – the difference is what they’re taking ownership of and how they measure success. Program Management: One Final Distinction. It helps to understand the difference between a project and a program. Project Management vs. Principally though, the purpose of the Product Manager is to drive a business outcome through Product-Market fit – and everything else is a means to that end. All these roles differ from each other in their histories and responsibilities. Just ask any product manager (PM), or project manager (also PM), and they’ll tell you they’ve been referred to as the other more times than they can count. That’s why it helps to understand the difference between a project, a program, and a product, as well as the management of each. Probably the most important competency is the ability to prioritize. Product Management vs. Project Management. These disciplines are closely related, but there are some key differences: Product management involves developing and communicating a product strategy (that aligns with business goals). Program Management vs. Project Management There are many differences between program management and project management, but not many people know what they are. Darrin Project Management The “PM” is a slightly confusing abbreviation. Actually, product management IS a type of project management that has very specific requirements. The idea was to have one person fully own a single product end-to-end, and be responsible for all aspects of the product. Product vs. Project. Powered by WordPress. This is usually done via product roadmap. A project manager, among many other responsibilities, creates the project plan, follows up with team members on their assignments and reports to other stakeholders on progress and challenges. They are also more likely to manage details, like how to handle error cases. Project management is the business activity of enterprise’s living organization in the product life cycle, such as product plan, development, marketing, sales and support to manage the business activities. They listen for issues, help to unblock, and report back to stakeholders when issues arise. In my experience, both product and project management have a critical role to play in traditional waterfall software planning systems. Product vs. Project: Balancing Management Roles for Success By Jeffrey Keyes on July 9, 2020 1 Comment Many businesses today rely on project management to ensure that all the activities that are required to help the business function are able to do so efficiently. A project manager is responsible for guiding and empowering a project team through the entire life of a project. The project manager will be concerned with that project’s budget, resources, deadline, and quality. Many organizations group their projects together in programs, which in turn are part of an organization’s overall portfolio of projects. Project: A temporaryendeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result 2. This means the work is managed at the project level rather than the program level, and thus you have Project Managers in that context. It’s a common question, and an important one, especially if you are just entering the world of project management. While Project Manager roles abound in “more corporate” and better-resourced environments, these professionals are also expected to be ruthless when it comes to distributing money and time. Programs are Ongoing, Projects End. Product Management is all about optimization: when you are working in the innovative tech industry, wasting time or money can cost you building the product of the decade. Project Managers: How to Believe in Yourself More. To iron out their differences, let’s start with the definition of the words product and project. Product Manager vs Program Manager vs Project Manager Product Manager. So start with this ideal in mind, and the correct process and supporting roles (Product Owner, Program, and Project) should follow from there. In the shipped software world, like what Microsoft became famous for, it is common to have product managers cover the project management role (in fact, Microsoft still does this under the job title “Program … Product Management: Responsibilities Project Management “Project managers are often at the forefront of delivering new strategic objectives, so they’re able to execute key initiatives while gaining exposure to stakeholders across all levels of … They are... Project Manager. Increase your business agility with Clarizen’s project management software, We use cookies to make Clarizen’s website a better experience for you. It was a role defined as supporting and serving the Scrum team, rather than the other way around as was typically the case with tranditional CPG Product Managers who worked with agencies and contractors to develop their products. However, you are likely to encounter them in fields as diverse as manufacturing, marketing and retail. A product can be anything from a physical product, to a software or a service that satisfies the needs of a group of users. This probably means you have one Product Manager at the Director level (Director of Product) who is leading strategy and there might be multiple “feature teams” (Scrum teams focused on a thematic group of features) which are supported by corresponding Product Owners, who do the analysis, write the requirements and support their teams, in the development of features. To iron out their differences, ... and preparing the project timeline through specific project management methodologies, like … Here, the distinction is made between product manager vs. program manager, rather than project manager vs. program manager. You might find Program Managers overseeing an internal operational service or when they’re working with Scrum teams, they might own “the program of Scrum”, acting as ScrumMaster, and ensuring the teams are applying best practices and keeping the trains running. The less time product managers spend on project management, the more time they will be able to spend on product management. Program managers are more strategic in their thinking and deliverables, while the project manager is often working on day-to-day task management on a more cellular level. Differences between product management vs. project management vs. product marketing Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. For larger scale products, it is very likely you need more than one person on the Product team to support all of the work that must be done. … Product Management vs. Morover,  what is the Product in that case? In the Software world, the Project Manager is mostly utilized where there are very large projects and a lot of cross-team dependencies that must be coordinated. Here’s another useful way to understand the product management vs. program management distinction. Project managers may even perform project tasks and produce deliverables, but in most cases, they are a step removed from those responsibilities. The reason Product Management rose to prominence in tech during this era, was the rise of Agile/ Scrum methodology which calls for every Scrum team to have a “Product Owner”. It’s common for people to confuse product managers and project managers — even within industries, like software, that employ both. So what’s the difference between program and project management? To avoid conflicts between product management and project management, product managers, project managers, and project teams should all agree on shared goals and objectives as much as possible. The product manager role usually involves evaluating customer needs, creating a design that will address those needs and working with the teams who actually build the product to ensure that it meets the intended goal. © 2020 Neal Cabage. Product managers, on the other hand, are responsible for guiding the design, development and production of one or more products. In the software industry, a product manager usually does not need to be an expert programmer, but needs to understand the software development process and be able to synthesize that knowledge with an understanding of the marketplace. In an Agile context, there must also be someone who plays ScrumMaster for the team, to ensure the delivery pipeline is working efficiently and releases are planned – this could be anyone on the team such as a technical lead but ideally this would be a dedicated Program Manager for the Product who could work to coordinate all disciplines such as UX, content, data science – not just engineering. As we’ve seen, project managers work in a variety of industries and types of … Project Manager:A person assigned by the performing organization to achieve the project objectives; accountable for the outcome of the project Jennifer Bridges, PMP, explains the differences between a product and project manager. The product team is using another project management tool for research and scoping; And the C-Suite is peppering everyone with questions by email; Nonetheless, project management software and product management software are commonly separated into two different platforms. In these organizations, a program manager’s role is essentially a higher-level variation of a project manager’s role, with fewer tactical or administrative tasks, but with responsibility for the success of the program as a whole. Program manager, product manager and project manager are familiar terms to people in almost every industry, but what sets them apart from each other? By contract, in the Agile approach, full stack teams generally are set up to be as autonomous as possible and minimize the cross-team dependencies and that’s generally where you’ll find Program Managers. Obviously, product management is very similar to project management. No matter what though, the Product team should NOT be playing the ScrumMaster role since this involves a lot of coordination work that necessarily means the urgency of day-to-day coordination (ScrumMaster) is placed ahead of the important longer-term strategy work that really impacts the success of the product – this should be avoided whenever possible. In other industries, the product itself might be a physical object or a service rather than a collection of code, but the job description can still be quite similar. However, many enterprises are moving their deployment infrastructure toward a continuous delivery model, which adopts DevOps principles. They will understand the many details of each project. Every day there are critical decisions that need to be made. In most industries, project managers are professionals who have developed expertise in the field, often by working on projects, and have moved into a management role over time. If you continue browsing the site, you agree to the use of cookies on this website. Some software companies have an entirely different definition of a program manager. But the responsibilities are very different. If you want to be a bad product manager, confuse product management with project management. Adding to this difference, Scrum became commonplace for most development teams, regardless of whether they were working on a  product development or even something more operational by nature. Accelerate speed, agility and collaboration to meet business goals. I interviewed for a senior Product role in Bellevue a few years back, where the corresponding senior Program Manager explained this very issue to me in our interview. Powerful project and portfolio management for today’s global enterprise. A program is often closely linked with a single organizational goal, and generally consists of multiple interrelated projects. Product management comes first, and project management happens to make the vision set forth by product management become a … At the end of the day, the prerogative of Product is to understand the market, and solve common problems at scale to achieve product-market fit. Process and roles should facilitate this, not distract from it. Companies with this approach tend to view a program manager as a more technically-focused counterpart of the product manager, who is responsible for guiding the creation of the actual code that will form the solution. In some cases, product management for one product, or family of products, is handled by a single Product Manager. Product vs. Project. The job focus of the project manager is both narrower and deeper than that of the program manager. Here’s a screen shot of the whiteboard for your reference! Even LinkedIn has only recently updated its search algorithm to better distinguish between the two — when searching for a new role back in April 2019, 35% of the results for my search for ‘Senior Product Manager’ in London were project manager roles. You can often think of them as technical Product Managers. This is also the context from which the “CEO of the Product” mindset formed because this role would truly have end-to-end responsibilities and accountability for their product. What’s the Difference Between Project & Portfolio Management? Pro-Tip: Though not a program manager, the project manager has a lot to do with what’s happening on the program, such as delivering the project on time and within the allotted budget. Product and Project Management — two sides of the same coin? The terms product management, program management, and project management are often associated with the software industry – especially product and program management. 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