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Friday, March 17, 2023
Product Owner vs Product Manager
To develop a successful product or service, there are two key roles that must be filled - product owner and product manager. While they may sound very similar there are key differences in terms of focus and responsibilities.
In this article, we will look into both roles, look at their job description, define their similarities and differences, and ways how they should collaborate within the product management frameworks.
Let's begin with definitions for both roles.
The product owner role
The product owner is responsible for defining the product vision and strategy.
Product owners work closely with stakeholders to discover (and understand) customer needs and market trends. These insights are then transformed into a product roadmap and user stories.
Once user stories are defined, it is the product owner's responsibility to prioritize the product backlog based on the business goals and customer feedback.
Product owners work closely with the development team to ensure that the team understands the product's vision and that the work will be delivered on time and within budget.
It is the responsibility of a product owner to communicate the progress and update the stakeholders.
Overall, the product owner is the voice of the customer which means he/she is responsible for the product to meet customer expectations.
The product manager role
The product manager is responsible for the product to meet business objectives and generate revenue for the company.
Product managers work closely with product owners to understand the vision and roadmap while defining and prioritizing the features to meet business goals. The product manager is also responsible for market research, competitor analysis, and discovering opportunities for growth.
The product manager works with cross-functional teams, such as engineers, designers, marketers, and customer support to ensure on-time delivery and meeting key performance indicators (KPIs).
Product managers act as a voice of the business and are responsible for the product to meet business objectives and be successful in terms of revenue.
Differences between product owner and product manager
While there are certain similarities between product owners and product managers, they also have key differences:
- The product owner is focused on customer and business value, while the product manager is focused on the revenue and meeting business objectives
- The product owner is responsible for defining the product vision and roadmap, while the product manager is responsible for prioritizing features that meet business goals and market trends
- The product owner is responsible for the product to meet customer needs, while the product manager is responsible for the product to meet business needs
Understanding these differences is important for the team to work together efficiently and avoid responsibility conflicts.
While there are key differences between the two roles, it is important to understand where do they overlap:
- Both roles are working with cross-functional teams to ensure on-time delivery and meet budget constraints
- Both roles do not own the team but are there to serve as a bridge between different business units and customers
- Both roles are responsible for communicating progress to stakeholders and keeping everyone on track
- Both roles need to understand market trends and perform market research along with competitor analysis to identify business opportunities
When it comes to overlapping, product owners and product managers can help each other by providing valuable information that can be used to make better business decisions.
Collaboration between the product owner and product manager is the key to building successful products. While they may have different goals, they must work together to ensure that all needs of the business and customers are met.
An efficient collaboration ensures that the product roadmap is aligned with business goals and the features are prioritized to bring maximum value to all stakeholders. This will also result in meeting delivery deadlines and keeping the product development process within budget.
A good collaboration between the product owner and the product manager will result in regular, clear, and open communication. It also involves sharing insights and updates while working on solving customer problems and meeting business goals.
It is also important to acknowledge the challenges faced by the product owners and product managers to address them timely and effectively:
- Finding the balance between customer needs and business goals
- Prioritizing product features based on both - customers and business
- Communicating effectively with all stakeholders and collecting feedback
- Resolving conflicts between different parties
To avoid any issues, conflicts, and misunderstandings when it comes to product owners and product managers, it is recommended to follow best practices.
- Define responsibilities for both roles clearly and communicate them with the product owner and product manager
- Advocate for open and regular collaboration between both roles
- Adjust product roadmap on a regular basis based on the customer and business needs
- Prioritize features that satisfy both - customers and business
- Measure your eNPS and establish regular 1-on-1 meetings with both roles
These are just a few basic practices to get you started but can be used to build a solid ground for further improvements.
Understanding the difference between product owners and product managers can be challenging.
In fact, many companies tend to mix both roles together or have blurred boundaries that result in conflicts and misleading expectations.
The sooner you will define clear responsibilities and goals for both roles, the faster you will start to receive positive results in terms of your product development.
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