Difference between Product Owner and Product Manager | Product Owner Vs Product Manager

Welcome to PremierAgile!

*Avail a Flat 26% Discount Across all our certification courses

Avail Zero Interest EMI

Mega Offer! Save up to INR 22000 when you buy our Advanced course Combo packages

PremierAgile

With an objective to enable continuous learning and progression for our learners, PremierAgile curated several learning articles. Out of a wide range of topics, you can choose to learn from the real-world experiences by practitioners in the areas of Agile, Scrum, Product Ownership, Scaling, Agile Leadership, Tools & Frameworks, latest market trends, new innovations etc.

Product Owner Vs Product Manager

Blog Image

Agile Methodology is implemented globally with companies of many domains such as aerospace, banking, software manufacturing, construction, and many more, showing interest in it due to its advantages and benefits. As Agile emerges in the many domains, the jobs related to Agile have also exponentially increased. Companies have many job opportunities for professionals interested in handling Agile operations, and two of the many such visible options are a Product Manager and Product Owner.

The Product Owner's and Product Manager's roles and responsibilities have been confused by many people, and often people use it interchangeably without knowing the difference between them. As per Scrum, a Product Owner is a role that optimizes the value of the product, creates Product Vision and the Product Backlog. However, a Product Manager role is not defined formally in Scrum as the end-to-end Product  responsibilities are taken care of by the Product Owner. However, many organizations split the Product Owner role into multiple people, and one such new entity is the Product Manager.

The Product Owner and the Product Manager play two critical sets of responsibilities in product management and dealing with all the work related to product handling. Both of their functions may overlap in some regions of expertise; however, both of their parts have many differences that one has to acknowledge.

There are many differences between a Product Manager and a Product Owner in organizations. The most fundamental difference one can find is that:

Product Managers are concerned about the vision of the product, objectives of a company, and how the present market is, and what kind of work is required.

A Product Owner is a professional that is found in Agile organizations that are more tactical. They may perform similar roles as Product Managers, but most importantly, they translate the Product Manager's strategy into actionable tasks, which is called the product increment or user stories. The Product Owner looks over the cross-functional Agile teams and ensures that the functions are executed perfectly so that a quality product as per the product vision is obtained.

Difference between Product Owner and Product Manager

There may always be confusion surrounding the differences between a Product Owner and a Product Manager. In smaller and younger organizations, the Product Owner may take up the Product Manager's role, and there may not even be a separate designation for a Product Manager in these companies. The Product Owner has to quickly establish a product developer and look over the product management operations. However, as the organization grows, the Product Manager's requirement becomes inevitable in the long term. Hence, Product Managers and Product Owners roles are not similar; in fact, they are quite different from each other. Due to a lack of resources, few organizations may have Product Owners who also look at the strategic side of product development. 


Criteria
Product Manager
Product Owner
Overall FocusStrategically focused about the grand vision of the product and have long-term vision about the product.They are tactically focused and have short to mid-term vision about the product and are more detail oriented.
Areas of responsibilityVision of product, feature prioritization, customer discovery, and cross-team alignment.Converting the product vision into an actionable goal, optimization of the development process, Communicating the customer's need to the development process.
OwnsMVPs and Product Roadmaps.User stories, Product Backlog, and epics.
Success metricsNet Promoter Score (NPS) (product)Churn and Revenue (Business)Conversions (Product)Completed stories and other success metrics that are related to the developer.
Roles

Develop the business case for the product.

Advocate for the funding and manage the budget.

Look after the position of the product.

Clearly express the Product Backlog items. Show the Developer what next to work on. Ensure the backlog is visible and clear.
SkillsBe the expert on product and customer.Order the backlog items to best achieve the goal.

As seen in the table, there are few similarities between these roles. Both of them revolve around looking after the product throughout the development process, and both the professionals have several of the same teams across the organization. In many organizations, the Product Owner may take up a more strategic role of the Product Manager and vice versa. But in a prototypical Agile, the organization will have both PO and PM who are responsible for the parts listed above.

Product Manager

Product management is the practice of strategically planning the development, launch, and continuous improvement of the products developed by a company. A Product Manager is a professional who has a long term vision for the product, identifies new opportunities, and defines the product vision, and also looks over the market trends for their products. A Product Manager's role is to envision the product as a whole and accordingly plan out the strategy to achieve these long term goals. The Product Manager has to continuously look over the current market trends and understand what kind of product increment would increase the company's revenue. They also have to identify the new potential outcomes or themes that are supported by the product. They have to keep the product's sales or adoption and ensure that the product meets all the requirements of the value stream that it is involved with.

Primary Roles and Responsibilities of a Product Manager
  • Create a long-term vision and strategy for the product.
  • Aligning the team around a cohesive product roadmap 
  • Conducting research and unveiling critical insights to discover what users need in the product.
  • Delighting customers by delivering features that function.
  • Deciding the next features that have to be built for the product.
  • Responsibility of championing and collaborating the team, partners, and external stakeholders to align around the overall strategy and direction of the product.

The Product Manager is a high-level role with significant responsibilities that revolves around the entire product lifecycle. The position begins from customer discovery to product delivery as the Product Manager drives the product strategy by clearly understanding the customer's needs, the product, and the present overall market. A Great Product Manager is a person who can become an excellent customer spokesperson, product visionary, a team champion, and also a great strategic leader. As the Product Manager's role involves many disciplines and strategic focus, they are often referred to as mini-CEOs.

Product Owner

The Product Owner is a concept of the Agile Methodology, where the PO is responsible for many project management operations. As a result, these days, the Product Owners are professionals who are found explicitly in Agile organizations that use the Agile development approach. The Product Owner's role is more tactical in practice; they work with the delivery team very closely to promptly ensure they build the right functionality. It is the Product Owner's responsibility to ensure that the high vision of the Product Manager is decoded into manageable tasks with detailed requirements. To achieve this, the Product Owners work in close relation with a range of Stakeholders for the product and non-customer Stakeholders such as finance, security operations, support, audit, and others.

As the Scrum guide describes, the Product Owner is a professional responsible for maximizing the value of the product, which is created by the Developer. The Product Owner is the sole person who is in charge of the Product Backlog management. They also have many roles and responsibilities such as attending the team coordination meetings, organizing demos, performing sufficient analysis so that the requirements are ready to be worked on, and being a part of the ongoing testing process.

Primary Roles and Responsibilities of Product Owner
  • Converting the customer's needs and expectations from the product into actionable user stories, prioritizing the user stories, and arranging user stories in the Product Backlog.
  • The Product Owner clears the work that has to be done by the Developer by constructing and prioritizing production processes.
  • Attending all the Scrum and Agile meetings to look through the development work and ensure that they align with the product roadmap set by the Product Manager.
  • Communicating the customer's voice to the Developer and also providing feedback to the Product Manager about the validated product roadmap.

The Product Owner could be thought of as a professional who plays the Product Manager's role but within their delivery team. The Product Owner maintains the Product Backlog of product development and is responsible for updating it frequently. In Scrum Framework, Sprint Planning requires the Product Owner to decide the priority of the product increment that is to be developed. They may also suggest the Developer about the methods and techniques they could incorporate to create the product. Their main aim is to ensure the customer's vision is clear to the Developer so that the user stories based on the vision could be developed accurately, and the wrong products are not designed, and high functional quality of products are developed.

Conclusion

The Product Manager's role is more strategic and focuses on the entire product lifecycle. The Product Owner's part is more tactical and has a more narrow focus and closer work with the Developer. The part of the Product Owner is to ensure that they face the customer, understand their vision, and create a long-term goal. However, the product works primarily with the development process and aligns the work with the product roadmap. The Product Manager would decide to build the next product, and the Product Owner helps the Developer build the requested products. The real difference between the Product Manager and the Product Owner is that they are the different aspects of the same role. Both of the teams deal with the products and try to increase the product's revenue so that the delivery and quality of refined products are excellent. The most important thing is to understand is that a company's Product Owner and Product Manager should know their roles thoroughly to ensure smooth product development and management.

References
  1. https://scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html
  2. https://www.productboard.com/blog/product-owner-vs-product-manager/#:~:text=To%20break%20it%20down%3A,and%20managing%20the%20product%20backlog.
  3. https://www.productplan.com/product-manager-vs-product-owner/
  4. https://productcoalition.com/product-owner-vs-product-manager-whats-the-difference-63c4d77a63ce





Useful Links:

Leading SAFe Course BoiseLeading SAFe Training BerlinAdvanced Scrum Master Certification Course BredaAdvanced Certified Product Owner Online Course PhiladelphiaScrum Product Owner Virtual Certification Training OaklandSAFe Agilist Certification JacksonScrum Product Owner Virtual Training Course GhentA-CSM Training DohaAdvanced CSPO Course HyderabadAdvanced Certified Scrum Master Certification Training Cleveland

Author

Priyanka Datt

Has nearly 15 years of experience as a practitioner in the areas of Agile and Scrum. She delivers training and coaching programs for organisations and teams across the globe. She is helping budding Scrum Masters and Product Owners to learn and grow in their careers.