Product Manager vs Project Manager: What’s the Difference?

Though they may sound similar, a product manager and project manager have very distinct roles that could impact your company’s productivity and success. In simple terms: a product manager is more of a strategic thinker, whereas the project manager is an implementer.

First, it would be good to distinguish between products and projects. A product is any service or item offered by a business to satisfy a consumer need. Products can be both physical or digital, like an app or a website. A project refers to a set of tasks completed to achieve an outcome. A project’s aim might be to develop or maintain a product, such as building a home or implementing a software upgrade.

Now that we know the difference between products and projects, let’s get into the specifics. A product manager’s key responsibilities include things like:

  • researching and gathering information about the product
  • understanding customer needs and wants
  • designing the product
  • specifying what features or functions the product should have
  • working with engineers to create a prototype
  • overseeing the development process
  • creating a launch plan
  • ensuring the product’s success after launch

A project manager will work on things such as:

  • planning and organizing the project
  • assigning tasks to team members
  • monitoring progress and ensuring deadlines are met
  • troubleshooting any problems that arise
  • closing the project once it is completed

In most cases, a product manager and a project manager will overlap in their responsibilities to some degree. However, it is important to understand the distinctions between the two roles so that you can put the right person in charge of the right task. Having a product manager and a project manager on your team can help ensure the success of your business.

Both roles require strong communication, problem-solving, and organizational skills. However, a product manager also needs to be able to think strategically and have a good understanding of business concepts. A project manager, on the other hand, should have a technical background so they can understand the complexities of projects and communicate with engineers effectively. So, while a product manager creates the vision, objectives, and business trajectory of a product, a project manager handles the many steps it takes to make those goals a reality.