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What Is the Difference Between a Product Owner and a Product Manager?

Dec 13, 2022

The distinctions between product owners and managers can be ambiguous. And if you’re mixing up things, then you need to hear us out.

In broader terms, product managers have significant strategic responsibilities. Within the organization’s overarching objectives, they plan and map out the product management procedure. Whereas, product owners take on a more strategic role, concentrating on the immediate satisfaction of the customers.

The PO and PM have the same objective: to enhance and optimize your product to provide maximum satisfaction to all clients. But here’s the thing- The two approaches to achieving that same objective differ in essential ways. Let’s find out in detail what skills you need to serve your company as a product owner or a manager.

What is The Focus of A Product Manager?

Simply, the product manager is in charge of deciding what should be built next. To break down this broad objective into smaller, realistic targets:

  • They conduct user research and reveal critical insights to learn what users need
  • Bring the team together around a unified product roadmap
  • Develop the long-term vision and plan for the product
  • Cater to client’s specifications by efficient allocation of resources
  • Choose the upcoming features to be built
  • Promote alignment concerning the overall strategy and direction of the product across the team, partners, and external stakeholders.

The product manager’s purview extends across the board, from initial consumer research to final product delivery. Moreover, a PM’s awareness of the market, product cycle, and the target audience’s needs are the three pillars of a successful product strategy.

To be a successful manager, you should be a champion of the target market, a visionary for the product, a team player, and a strategic thinker.

In short, product managers are frequently referred to as “mini-CEOs” because of their diverse job and strategic focus.

What Is The Focus of A Product Owner?

The phrase “product owners” is derived from Scrum, an agile framework for creating and maintaining complex products. A Product Owner is responsible for increasing the product’s value from the Development Team’s efforts.

Backlog grooming is the sole responsibility of the product owner. Additionally, the product owner carries out the following actions:

  • Prioritizes the user stories, organizes them in the product backlog, transforms client issues, and turns them into actionable user stories
  • Ensures that the development effort is in line with the roadmap established by the product manager by participating in all Scrum and agile meetings
  • Creates and assigns priorities to production processes to make sure the development team knows what to focus on next
  • Gives the product manager input on the validated roadmap
  • Enables the development team to hear the customer’s voice

The product owner’s function requires a more specific focus and closer collaboration with the development team. In contrast, the product manager’s role is more strategic and responsible for the entire product lifecycle.

One aspect of the product manager’s job is dealing with customers. But the product owner’s primary focus is on the production team, ensuring their work follows the product roadmap.

In a nutshell, the product manager directs the development team regarding what products to create next, while the product owner provides input during the creation process.

What Separates Product Managers From Product Owners?

Here are some factors related to how product managers and owners differ from one another

1.   Duties And Roles

Product managers are essential in an agile workplace. They share their knowledge of the wants and demands of the intended users. Product managers are also overviewing the administrative tasks that the team is handling. On the other hand, product owners and managers have a primary responsibility of keeping the customer’s needs at the forefront of all decisions pertaining to the product.

Duties of the product owner:

  • Making the vision of the product manager a reality
  • Assign the product management staff with daily duties
  • Create customer case studies to share with the product development group

Duties of the product manager:

  • Determine the demands of the intended market and conduct competitor analysis
  • Implement the product development strategy
  • Align the needs of the customer with the company

2. Skills Required

Just like the nature of work is different, the skills are unique too! Both product owners and managers require different skills to excel at their work.

Product Owner’s Skills

  • Powerful storytelling abilities
  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to analyze
  • Abilities to solve problems
  • Leadership qualities

Product Manager’s Skills

  • Ability to manage
  • Ability to think creatively
  • Technical expertise
  • Superior communication abilities
  • Time management skills

3. Educational Background

Companies often prioritize candidates with postgraduate education, especially those with a master’s or certificate in product management.

To grasp the fundamentals of the business process, product owners and managers can pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree in product management. They can also enroll in certification programs to discover new, high-tech skills and in-depth information about the audience and product management.

Does A Company Need Both Product Owner And A Manager?

Instead of focusing on the titles that will be used, a corporation must ask itself what it requires in terms of the desired product output. Evaluation of the product management team’s roles and processes, which are aimed at maximizing business value, comes second.

A corporate system that lacks flexibility must install the necessary structures and processes. It is necessary to evaluate who is currently performing certain tasks, the difficulties that must be addressed, the overall decision-making procedure, and the ultimate objective. Once all these issues have been evaluated and solved, an organization’s operations will flourish and cost-effectiveness would also improve by tenfold. You’ll be able to identify any issues, delays, or poor product management. You can realize that there are innovative ways to adjust to the framework of product management.

Final Word

People will always have differing views on whether product management and product ownership are two distinct roles or merely different facets of the same job. What matters, though, is that the Product Managers and Product Owners on your team clearly understand their roles and responsibilities and fully optimize the product management process for profit maximization.


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