Product owner vs product manager (what’s the difference?)
27 May 2020
The differences between a product owner and a product manager seem minimal, the terms are often used interchangeably. However, inspecting the two roles further some important differences start to appear.
This article created by our team at TMS, will compare product owner vs product manager, and analyze two questions: What skills does a product owner require, what are their tasks? What skills does a product manager require, what are their tasks?
About Product Managers
Product managers have a long history; they can be traced back to the 1930s. when Silicon Valley companies such as Hewlett Packard started employing product managers. Their role was mainly to manage products, but with additional responsibilities.
Product manager roles have changed significantly in the last 40 years, quickly moving towards being software organizations.
The Role of Product Management
Today, the role of product management is to strategically drive the development, market launch and give constant support to improve a company’s products. A product manager has a clear vision about the product, its future, and its place within the market. They follow the latest market trends while identifying new market opportunities.
They help to identify new projects, products, along with managing teams who will work on these products. Some other product manager roles include:
- Tracking the market and the competitors
- Attending the iteration demos and standups
- Supporting sales
- Budgeting tasks
- Envisioning the long-term
- Customer care
- Supporting the solution-delivery team
A product owner is needed regardless of whether there is a product manager or not. A product owner works closely with delivery teams and stakeholders to ensure that the products roll out in a timely fashion. They listen to the product manager’s vision and translate it into a workable proposal.
Product owners will coordinate between stakeholders and the project team. They assist the development team from start to finish of the product as well as define the product backlog and manage it.
Here are some of the most crucial roles of a product owner:
- They create actionable user stories that will help the development teams.
- They take care of the analysis and make sure that the project meets the requirements.
- They consult with various parties involved in the project: the product manager, stakeholders, clients, and implementation teams.
- They groom the work in the backlog and prioritize it.
- They are involved in testing efforts for the product.
- They review the development and document story details.
- Attend meetings
- Accept the completed user stories and ensure the work is fit for the project.
The product owner needs to be customer-oriented; keeping up to date with the latest trends within the marketplace is crucial.
They value the product and how it fits the customers’ needs. They not only identify the customer roadblocks but find solutions for them.
Product Owner vs Product Manager
This article will further examine the similarities and differences between product owners and product managers.
Both the product owner and product manager play a crucial role in the development of a product. A product owner has to follow the trends and customer feedback to devise and communicate a concept to the development team. It is the role of a product manager to develop a strategy to make that project a reality.
The main differences are:
- Product managers are team-orientated. They need to make sure that the team delivers a high-quality product while sticking to deadlines.
- Product owners are customer-orientated. They’re responsible for market research, gauging and measuring customer requirements and creating a vision for the product based on the data.
Product owners must truly understand the requirements of the customers and the market. Aftermarket research and learning the customers’ needs they then communicate the data to the team. They create product backlog stories and work together with the manager to write user stories and gather customer feedback.
Product managers manage their teams and participate in Scrum meetings. There, they sketch out the requirements for the team and establish a long-term vision. They oversee the team making sure they meet their goals on time.
At the highest level, the differences are minimal.
- Product managers are more strategic, as they focus on the product’s vision, the objectives, and the market.
- Product owners are more tactical, as they engage with the teams they use the strategy to manage the tasks effectively, verifying that the products meet those requirements.
Why Is There a Need For Both Product Manager and Product Owner?
Companies wonder whether to hire one or both. Studies show it is advantageous to hire both a product manager and a product owner.
Companies hiring both a product manager and a product owner become more efficient by producing more products and enhancing the whole process.
With both in place, the development teams can have a clearer idea about the requirements, enabling the team to focus to a greater degree.
Since the communication between the stakeholders and the development teams is clearer, both product owners and product managers ensure that the development and feedback are consistent.
This enables the company to create the final product perfectly.
Ending thoughts on the product owner vs product manager discussion
Although the two terms are often interchangeable, with the help of this article, you’ve learned the differences between product owner vs product manager.
Both roles are essential for the organization. The owner will make sure that the product fits the market and the requirements, while the manager is responsible for directing the development teams.
They both work towards the same goal, yet, there are some differences between the two that can’t be ignored.
If you enjoyed reading this article on product owner vs product manager, you should check out this one about product manager salary.
We also wrote about a few related subjects like best product management books, product manager interview questions, product launch checklist, product manager skills, chief product officer and product manager vs project manager.