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Difference Between Project Manager vs Product Manager

In today’s business-oriented and technology-driven world, people constantly mix up the roles of several career positions in an organization. A good example is the roles of a project manager and product manager in the business analysis world. 

These two professions have different skillsets and responsibilities. They are both managers but “what they manage” and “how they manage” differ. In this guide, I will discuss the difference between a Project Manager and a Product Manager

Who is a Project Manager?

A project manager is an individual that takes action on the product vision designed by a product manager to ensure that such vision is successfully executed on time with the budget provided. 

A “Project” is a set of tasks that has a defined beginning and end. It involves the “Who, When, Where, and How” associated with a business. So, the role of a project manager is tactical because the focus is on the planning and execution of projects. 

Who is a Product Manager?

A product manager is an individual that designs the vision for a product that needs to be built by gathering the requirements for the execution. 

A “Product” is a thing designed and created to satisfy the needs of end-users such as customers and clients. It involves the “What and Why” associated with the development of products. So, the role of a product manager is strategic because the focus is on producing products that evolve continuously. 

One of the best ways to learn about the specialized roles of project managers and product managers is to enroll in online business analysis certifications. Several websites offer this opportunity on the internet without having to pay expensive training fees. A certified business analysis certification will help you acquire the necessary skills needed to work in the business analysis field. 

Difference Between Project Manager and Product Manager

Here is a breakdown of the differences between these two professions;

  • The difference in Timeline:

Project Manager: A project manager works on a project that has a time frame. Projects are temporary with outlined tasks and activities that should be carried over some time. This means project managers are expected to make sure projects are delivered within a given timeframe. 

Product Manager: A product manager works on rendering product service that offers continuous value for customers. This means that there is not a set time frame for the job of a product manager when creating products for customer’s consumption. They have to constantly upgrade products to meet the expectations of customers as their needs evolve daily. 

  • The difference in Responsibilities:

Project Manager: The responsibility of a project manager is to convert strategic project plans into task-oriented activities. Project managers perform tasks such as project scope management, risk management, and project team management. 

They are also responsible for managing resources and project budgets including allocating the right time needed to complete a project. So, the main responsibility of a project manager is to deliver a project within a given budget at the right time. 

Product Manager: The responsibility of a product manager is to design and create a product that will meet the needs of customers and also satisfy their demands. 

They create a product roadmap that helps a business or company meet a product vision by breaking down all the steps needed to be carried out by a production team, to ensure products are perfect for consumption. Product managers manage the lifecycle of a product during the development stage and after production. They also conduct detailed market research to ensure a product remains relevant. 

  • The difference in Skills:

Project Manager: Project managers have special skills that involve decision-making and project execution. They collect and evaluate data to make decisions that will help a business achieve its goals. 

Project managers also make use of their excellent communication skills to advise project teams and business stakeholders on how to execute projects. These skills involve planning and organization of projects, including risk management.

Product Manager: Product managers are known for their exceptional creative skills. Their high level of creativity ensures they’re in a position to design and create strategic products that will meet the needs of customers and clients. 

They deal with the “why and what” questions associated with the production of high-value products that will ensure customer satisfaction. They’re skilled in understanding what customers want in a product while the ability to think outside the box gives them an edge when suggesting solutions to business challenges.

  • The difference in Scope of Work:

Project Manager: The career title called “Project Manager” has a designated scope of work that includes; prioritizing time resources management, prioritizing time management, understanding project plan, working within project budget, and prioritizing project completion. A project manager’s scope of work also includes managing the project team and executing the list of set out tasks. 

Enroll in certified business analysis certification to learn more about this.

Product Manager: The career title called “Product Manager” has a designated scope of work that includes; prioritizing the value of a product, understanding customer requirements, focusing on product strategy, focusing on the product roadmap, and analyzing business goals. This is all in the bid to ensure continuous product growth that will always meet end-users and market demands. 

Enroll in certified business analysis certification to learn more about this.

  • The difference in Certifications

Project Manager: There are different certifications project managers are expected to acquire. The main one is Project Management Professional (PMP).

Project management certifications will help every project manager improve their career experience as well as landing big jobs that will improve their finances. If you check out business analyst salaries, project managers are one of the top earners on the list. So, you can decide to start a career as a project manager. 

Product Manager: There are different certifications product managers are expected to acquire. The main one is Certified Product Manager (CPM)

Product management certifications will help a product manager learn about the process of planning, designing, developing, and managing products that will satisfy customer’s needs. It can also help in landing top jobs in the field which will boost the chances of earning big. Don’t hesitate to get certified as a product manager. 

  • The difference in Basic Functions:

Project Manager: Here are some of the basic functions of a project manager;

  • Understanding project initiatives and breaking them into tasks
  • Planning and organizing project timelines
  • Allocating the right resources for project execution 
  • Monitoring and managing the steps needed to complete tasks
  • Communicating the progress of a project to business stakeholders

Product Manager: Here are some of the basic functions of a product manager;

  • Setting the vision for a product 
  • Communicating product vision to stakeholders
  • Developing a strategic plan to deliver quality products
  • Creating and maintaining a roadmap for products
  • Researching about product demands and market competition
  • Ensuring projects are completed within a given timeframe. 

Summary

Hiring a project manager and product manager is important for any business. 

It is common knowledge that the responsibilities of project managers and product managers differ but there’s an overlap in similarities between the two professions. You might be wondering what these similarities are, they include;

  • Good communication skills
  • Good leadership skills
  • Good decision-making skills
  • Good management skills
  • Good understanding of the industry

The difference in the role of project manager and product manager complement each other in such a way that both stay relevant. They are both important in helping an organization grow and also attain long-term success. 

There’s also a collaboration between both professions in the sense that they work together in a cross-functional team in an organization to deliver high-quality products and services. They both perform unique functions in an organization. 

The career path of a project manager is quite different from the career path of a product manager. The amount of money they earn also differs. You can figure out how much a project manager or product manager working in the business analysis field earns by studying the business analyst salaries scale. 

It is important to get professionally certified if you want to work and earn as a product manager or project manager. You should enroll in online business analysis certification that will help you learn about the necessary skills needed to excel in the field. The certification will also make you qualified to take up a project manager or product manager position at any company or organization. 

The lack of understanding of the difference between a project manager and a product manager has been duly addressed in this guide. Ensure you study it.

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