product owner vs product manager
6 Jul 2022 11 min to read

Product Owner vs Product Manager – Differences and Similarities in Software Projects

When it comes to job titles and functions, corporations are often fairly innovative in providing attractive names to specific positions. Over the last decade or so, the term “product manager” has become more popular.

While the role was evolving, it shifted from being responsible for a product inside a department to a cross-functional role responsible for its development and success.

According to a survey conducted by Product focus, many businesses have adopted the Product Manager and Product Owner positions.

As may be seen, there is a considerable variation which indicates that businesses have attempted to become more agile over the last decade or so, and the position of “Product Owner” and “Product Manager“ has expanded, with a growing number of individuals holding this job title.

PO and PM

Companies have different approaches to the role of the PM and PO. Sometimes the functions of both positions are handled by one person.

However, there are several distinctions between both the product manager and product owner, despite the fact that they seem quite similar and are often used interchangeably.

In this article, we will outline the product owner vs product manager roles and will address their similarities and differences.

 

Role of the Product Owner in Software Development Projects

The product owner is the primary decision-maker in the Scrum development process. The primary objective of all choices made by the product owner is to create a high-quality product that will work for the target audience and address their problems.

Responsibilities of Product Owner

In software development projects, the product owner fulfills a number of roles, which include:

  • Backlog creation and management
  • Identifying and prioritizing development backlogs based on business needs, value, and ROI
  • Tracking user stories to manage functionality in a sprint
  • Communicate the business goals and product vision before and after every sprint
  • Engaging with customers and translating their requirements into functionality
  • Planning, reviewing, and leading development team meetings
  • A sprint-by-sprint analysis of development progress
  • Analyzing the backlog and deciding what functionality will be developed next
  • Incorporating business goals and market conditions into the project
  • Maintaining communication with all stakeholders regarding product development
  • Tracking the time and budget spent on the product at each stage of development

 

Our experience shows that close and effective cooperation with the Product Owner on the Client side is one of the keys to project success. Involving the Product Owner allows to make major decisions faster and keeps the team close to the defined project goals. Moreover, knowledge of the client’s product and the company is a huge advantage of working with a Product Owner. Mike Jackowski COO, ASPER BROTHERS Let's Talk

 

Role of Product Managers in the Software Development Team

As the product owner of a development team, you must consider both the technical and commercial sides of product management.

While developers strive for technological excellence, you must ensure that investments in certain features or technologies are worthwhile in terms of future income, customer happiness, etc.

A software product manager directs the product’s specialty, objectives, structure, and expectations. A software product manager’s primary duty is to effectively represent the software development team’s interests to stakeholders and consumers.

Responsibilities of Product Managers

The software product managers are accountable for:

  • Converting corporate objectives into specific software specifications
  • Balance conflicting software requirements, such as security vs speed and cost vs time,
  • Setting priorities for software development teams’ feature requests
  • Developing a product vision and defining its specifications with software engineers and the technical team
  • Optimizing the software solution to meet the organizations’ and users’ needs
  • Making compromises between features, time, and costs based on their link to business objectives, corporate policies, software architectural restrictions, and software development team competencies.

Product Owner vs Product Manager Comparison

 

Product Manager Product Owner
Overall focus
  • Strategy-oriented
  • Grand vision of the product
  • Long-term focus
  • Detail-oriented
  • Short to mid-term focus
Areas of responsibility
  • Product vision
  • Customer discovery
  • Identifying customers
  • Feature prioritization
  • Streamlining the development process
  • Creating an actionable backlog from a product vision
  • Advising the development team on customer feedback
Owns
  • Product roadmap
  • MVPs
  • Backlog
  • Epics
  • User stories
Success metrics
  • NPS (product)
  • Conversions (product)
  • Revenue (business)
  • Churn (business
  • Completed stories
  • Performance metrics for the development team

 

Product Owner as a Key Team Member of the Client Side

In any software development project, the client-side team is responsible for ensuring that the final product meets the needs of the customer. The product owner is a key member of this team, and their role is to act as the voice of the customer.

They are responsible for communicating the customer’s requirements to the development team, and customer feedback. They also play a vital role in testing and acceptance.

In addition to their role on the client-side team, product owners also often interact with other stakeholders, such as business analysts and project managers.

As such, they play a crucial role in ensuring that all parties are aligned with the goals of the project. Product owners are essential members of any successful software development team.

Advantages of Including the Product Owner from the Client side

Proximity to sponsors and other relevant parties

When the Product Owner is in close proximity to sponsors and other stakeholders, he is likely already in touch with the majority of them and has a thorough understanding of who may have the answers to certain issues.

He knows them well enough to ask the appropriate question to the appropriate individual. This form of tacit knowledge enables him to swiftly discover solutions to a variety of questions, and why not, prevent confrontations from escalating.

Internal business knowledge

An insider is always more knowledgeable and acquainted with the client’s company and culture; he understands who the competitors and clients are and can make more informed product development decisions.

Greater autonomy for the development team

The Product Owner is considered to be the client’s representative. His leadership is implicitly accepted on both the functional and business sides, and he is trusted immediately.

Better visibility into production feature use

When a product is put into production, several modifications are performed based on its intended usage. At this level, sharing information with an insider is certainly simpler than with a provider.

 

Qualities of a Great Product Owner and Product Manager

PO-PM qualities

Having certain qualities as a Product Owner or Product Manager makes them exceptional professionals, facilitates their career development, and increases their employment opportunities.

Here are certain qualities that would make a Product Owner and a Product Manager the best in their respective fields.

Start with strategy

Even early product decisions should be founded on strategy. Therefore, refrain from making hasty decisions.

Ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the current product objectives and what you are attempting to accomplish.

Understanding your customer’s

Empathy is crucial for effective product owners and product managers. Invest time in gaining a thorough understanding of the difficulties you address for consumers.

Observe sales calls, schedule time to meet actual customers, and examine all relevant facts and customer feedback data. Deep comprehension requires more than 30 days, but you may make significant progress in the first month by demonstrating interest.

Develop rapport with your colleagues

You cannot achieve success by yourself. As they depend on the team and product designers to create the appropriate product. And you rely on marketing and sales to bring your product to market effectively.

Therefore, cultivate authentic relationships with your coworkers; good relationships generate trust and improved communication.

Learn to decline

You will get several requests from all corners of your firm, such as a request for a new feature that will assist close a transaction, a desire to solve an issue immediately, and suggestions for enhancements.

Additionally, you will hear from consumers. You cannot possibly satisfy everyone simultaneously. Develop a structure for prioritizing and get comfortable saying “no” or “not now.”

Take your time

To develop into a new job and achieve sustained success requires time and perseverance. Prepare to repeat the same teachings and to ask several questions.

Allow yourself the time necessary to become the company’s foremost product specialist.

Summary

In recent years, the need for both product managers and product owners has grown. This article discussed the product owner vs product manager similarities and differences.

The majority of them stem from the fact that “product manager” is a position within a company, but “product owner” is a position inside an agile project such as Scrum.

In principle, this indicates a clear difference between the two positions, but in fact, the borders are often blurred: Product managers often assume project duties as a product owner, while when changing to agile organizations, some firms use “product owner” as a job title rather than a project function.

Consequently, a product manager might temporarily reduce and expand her/his scope while assuming the job of the product owner.

In contrast, a transfer from a product owner to a product manager is likely to need an increase in strategic and marketing abilities, given that product, ownership focuses on the operational development of a product inside a project.

 

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