Wondering what the difference is between a product manager and a product owner? Who is superior between the two? Can one function without the other? Well, there's no specific answer to these questions because these roles usually operate differently. Different factors come into play to determine what a product owner or product manager does. In the tech world, these terms are generally used to refer to software or digital products.
Primarily, it’s in the interest of a business to create quality products that provide value to the company's target customers and investors. To achieve this goal, it's essential to ensure the product is optimized accordingly and delivered on time to the customer. But that can be difficult to do when there's no clear distinction between these two roles. Identifying the key differences between a product manager and a product owner can help bridge that gap.
The success of the organizations means that the optimization and delivery processes should be the goal for both the product owner and the product manager. While these two roles usually have similar roles in the organization, the functions have different responsibilities. The project owner and product manager should work collectively to achieve the desired outcome.
The Product Owner
For most people, this term is somewhat confusing and misleading. Keep in mind that the product owner doesn't necessarily own the end product or act as the company owner that makes the product. The terms come from the scrum framework, an agile system that supports all the complex effects within the company.
The product owner is responsible for improving the product's value and ensuring the development is aligned with the product roadmap. But this sounds confusing, right? It means that product owners work to generate customer stories to be operated on by the company's development team. They help to voice the customer's needs.
Product owners are mainly responsible for supervising the product throughout its development. That means they inspect all new features and modify existing products, fix bugs, and so on. So, a product owner supervises the development team to ensure all tasks are running smoothly with the goal of achieving the desired product outcome.
In addition to grooming the product in all the development stages, a product owner also performs these responsibilities:
Builds the production process according to priorities plus ensures the development team understands their respective roles.
Understand customers' needs, draft their complaints and problems into detailed user stories, and create actionable steps.
The product owner must be present at team meetings to consult with other critical stakeholders like the scrum master. Team meetings ensure the development process follows the road map provided by the product manager.
Product managers are the link between customers and the product's development team.
Product owners represent the customer's needs and act as their spokesperson.
They also offer constructive feedback to encourage necessary changes on the product and the development roadmap. And as such, encourages transparent communication between the product manager and the product owner.
Product managers are involved with the product from conception until its launch. However, the product owner isn't involved in the product's development process.
The Product Manager
A product manager helps to guide the product toward the expected outcome. They are part of a team that improves the product's quality and recommends extra features. Therefore, a product manager acts as an organizational leader who outlines the strategic roadmap to follow along the product line.
Product manager responsibilities often vary from one company to the next. This role isn’t necessarily limited to forecasting, marketing, and analyzing loss and profit. They also collaborate with the product's project manager, project owner, and other members to ensure a successful product launch.
Product managers analyze the competition and market while creating a realistic vision for the product. They work to create a unique product that meets customers' needs and demands. Their role is tactical and strategic and must encourage functional leadership across all departments within the company such as sales, marketing, engineering, and customer service.
Product managers help define what specific product the company will build and collaborate with the product owners to ensure the product launch is successful. Additionally, product managers do comprehensive market research. They help analyze what consumers want and need, plus utilize prioritization strategies to determine what products achieve those demands.
These are the steps that the product manager follows to ensure the company creates quality products:
Create a comprehensive strategy that focuses on the company's long-term plan
Researching to understand what customers want with a focus on making a functional product that's needed.
Create the product roadmap and ensure all the collaborative teams work on similar goals throughout the development process.
Coordinate the product development teams, stakeholders, and partners to ensure all understand the strategy and work toward the product's success.
Recommend what features to build on upcoming products.
Create and deliver products with unique features that make them indispensable to customers.
The product manager also supervises the entire product lifecycle. That responsibility involves the initial product conception, recommending changes on the product to meet customers' demands. Moreover, they speak as the end-users, which helps them create a quality product that matches the market.
So, will the product manager or product owner operate the shop? Who should take the supervisory role? It depends on the company, your vision and what you desire to achieve long-term. That said, finding talented people with the right skills is the only way to achieve your objectives.
A product manager and product owner are valuable assets in any business as they work to meet the company's changing needs. Remember, while defining these roles, it's crucial to adapt because the marketplace is susceptible to change from time to time and is constantly evolving.