As software development becomes more complex, the role of the product manager has become increasingly important. Product managers are now responsible for the success of a product or feature, regardless of its size. In contrast, project managers are focused on managing the team and resources around the product. This means that project managers do not need to have as much technical expertise as product managers. So, what are the differences between a product manager and a project manager? Let’s explore.
Product managers are more focused on the development of the product and managing expectations from start to finish of the product or feature. They have to consider a vast amount of different information and combine them into a single source of truth. This means that they have to consider the stakeholders of the project, the designers, the development, and manage the releases of the product. Therefore, the knowledge that a product manager needs to consider is far more based on the ability to understand the business case of the product or feature and the development process. Product managers are essentially liaisons between the stakeholders and the development team.
Project managers, on the other hand, focus more on ensuring that the team is adhering to the schedule and budget that have been set. They also work with stakeholders to ensure that their needs are being met by the product. In addition, project managers create and maintain project plans, as well as communicate updates to all parties involved in the software development process. This allows for the teams to remain on the same page and generate a source of truth function within the project.
While both roles are important, it is clear that they are very different. Product managers need to be able to understand both the business case and the technical aspects of a software development project in order to be successful. Project managers, on the other hand, need to be excellent communicators and have a good understanding of software development processes. As the complexity of the project grows in the software development world, the need for product managers to maintain and manage the expectations for the teams is evermore clear. A combination of a product manager and a project manager in development is like having a visionary CEO and an analytical COO. They both need one another to exist but have completely different purposes in the organization. The same goes for product managers and project managers, furthermore, they typically have completely different personality traits as well.
When looking at a product manager, you want to make sure that their personality trait has the ability to not only communicate accordingly with the development team but also with the stakeholders. Typically, product managers are charismatic and are able to align the different teams and bring the project together. On the other hand, the project manager's personality needs to be more analytical and organized with the ability to take ownership of the project deadline and guide the ship with minimal impact on the budget and timeline.
Overall, product managers play a vital role in software development and custom software development projects. They are responsible for ensuring the success of the product or feature, and they need to have a deep understanding of the software development process. Think of a CEO as the visionary of the company and the COO as the operator of that vision. This is exactly what the difference between a product manager and a project manager is within a product or feature. The product manager guides the product or feature's vision while the project manager is responsible for executing that vision throughout the organization. When considering your project and what requirements are needed, make sure you understand the difference between a product manager and a project manager, because, in the end, they both have completely different goals within a project.