Agile Software Development

What’s the Difference Between a Product Owner, Product Manager, and Project Manager?

It is easy to confuse the roles of a product owner, product manager, and project manager. Nevertheless, they serve distinct roles, and all influence the progress of a project. In this article at DZone, Steve Parker clarifies the difference between a product owner, product manager, and project manager.

Product Owner, Product Manager, and Project Manager

Introduction of Agile in PM methodologies make the roles of the product owner, product manager, and project manager confusing. Though the primary job is to manage teams and monitor project progress, these roles are different in the following ways:

The Role of a Project Manager: The role of a project manager has been around for ages. They mainly followed waterfall approaches to manage one or multiple projects. Their job entails them to collect information, make decisions, and keep everything organized. They also need to look after collaboration within the team and outside and resolve differences of opinions. They must monitor team performance and project progress and validate project completion.

The Role of a Product Manager: A product can last longer than a project and needs support and upgrades frequently. A product manager concentrates on what the product is capable of doing based on a high-level view. In this role, you must gather customer requirements and understand challenges and potential break-throughs. You should prioritize tasks so that you achieve the company strategy and year-end goals through the product and project. Since product maintenance is a long-term effort, you also need to create and maintain an evolving product maturation timeline. The product manager also needs to interact with various teams to deliver the product on time. You must interact with internal departments like the design, marketing, manufacturing, customer support, etc. as well as vendors.

The Role of a Product Owner: Though a product owner performs similar tasks as a project manager, its main role is to manage the agile team. You must decide the project outcomes and divide the tasks into sprints. Work closely with the team and Scrum Master and attend daily meetings to understand progress. If any task is hindering team progress, the product owner can choose to postpone or eliminate it from the project. Unlike other methodologies, agile lets teams directly collaborate and brainstorm with customers. At the end of the project, the product owner and team deliver the finished product to the customers. They can either accept the product or ask for modifications.

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