Product Success | 6 MIN READ

Product Owner vs Product Manager: What Is the Exact Difference? Why Is It Important?

The underlying difference between a product owner and product manager is how they manage various parts of the product journey, and their responsibilities in ensuring product success.

Niyathi Rao
Mar 10, 2021

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Product Owner vs Product Manager

Are product owners and product managers essentially the same function? Many businesses have the same doubts about the two product functions. What is the difference between a product owner and a product manager? They do overlap but are not the same. In this blog, we will look at how the role of a product manager differs from a product owner. We will also learn the responsibilities and skills of both positions.

Product Owner Role Definition

A product owner role is responsible for ensuring that high-quality products are delivered to end users. This needs to be within market deadlines. Product owners work with delivery teams to ensure the right bits are fit in the product. This role entails transferring the vision of the product manager into a product. Product owners also involve in-

  • Organising product demos
  • Attending team meetings
  • Coordinating with teams
  • Analysing various requirements
  • Testing how product work
  • Capture customer feedback

Product Manager Role Definition

Product management is driving the launch, development, and improvement of company’s products. A product manager role is one that focuses on product vision, strategy, and identify new opportunities to improve the product. A product manager is one involved in-

  • Product vision
  • Sketch wireframes
  • Budgeting
  • Product marketing
  • Product sales
  • Solution-delivery

Why is it Important to know the difference between Product Owner and Product Manager

Knowing the difference between product owners and product managers will help you understand your business needs product owners, or a product manager or both. Product owners will help build the product as per customer requirements. They help build the product with the development team. Product managers, on the other hand, find and discover what products can be built. They focus on moving the project on paper to products in reality.

You need a product manager to accomplish business goals, amplify products, build product teams, work on customer complaints, and improve product quality. The focus is more on strategy, product positioning, developing a business case, allocating a funding and budget, and maintaining a roadmap for products. A product manager also identifies trends in the marketplace, ensures the product is as per them, ensures the product meets customer needs, and helps sales team in this process.

You need a product owner if you want to manage your development team and track project and reporting issues. A product owner is one who is tactically focused, works to ensure that the backlog is clear and visible. They work to optimise the value of dev team work, achieve goals, and decide what to work on next from the scrum team side. Product owners need to be proactive, have team coordination meetings, analyse and organise product demos keeping voice of customer in mind.

One Product; Two Roles

Product owners are the base of any product as they are involved in the translation of customer needs into product vision. They focus on customer feedback and aid the development team throughs sprint meetings, scrum calls, and team-building activities.

On the other hand, product managers build the products. They align teams, follow up, work with marketing and sales teams. They manage all involved in releasing a full product with the right customer fit, right product strategy that solves customer problems.

Skills needed for Product Owner and Product Manager

Product Owner Skills

Communication Skills

A product owner must have effective communication skills. They need to maintain a seamless, transparent communication with various stakeholders across the company. These skills are necessary for making sure customer demands and requirements are relayed correctly to dev teams.

Interpersonal Skills

A product owner must have the interpersonal skills to build meaningful relationships across teams. From customers to senior management, they need to listen, speak, and question accordingly. Improved interaction will occur when the interpersonal skills are good.

Empathy

A product owner should empathise with customers, notice their genuine needs, spot the possibilities of success, and translate that into features. These customer needs need to be understood in their true sense to make it product ready.

Collaboration

Product owners must balance various aspects with others to get results. They need to collaborate with others to meet their goals. This cross-collaboration is required to get what the customer wants.

Technical Skills

Product owners need to be technically sufficient. Since they need to multitask and be a part of scrum meetings, team calls, board decisions and more. They need to have the technical skills to understand a broad range of subjects.

Product Manager Skills

Leadership Skills

A product manager must have the long-term goals and vision for the product. He needs to know what to decentralise and deliver. He needs to have a clear cut vision of what is being distributed to a certain team member.

Research

A product manager needs to be aware of market trends, research competitors, customer needs and preferences before announcing a product strategy. This data needs to form a core part of their vision for the company.

Technical Skills

Product managers need to be technically equipped to turn paper projects into reality. This must be in collaboration with engineering, product, marketing teams. This will help understand product vision and translate features into simple bits.

Do You Need Both of them- Product Owner and Product Manager?

It depends on what gaps you are looking to fill in the customer journey with products. It is known that product owners and product managers have different roles. Product managers manage teams, define actions, communicate timelines and expectations, and keep customer reviews as the base to improve product development. Product owners need to ensure that the tool provides value to customers. So, depending on requirements you can hire a product owner or a product manager or both.

Bottom Line

Both the roles- product owner and product manager are necessary to meet team goals. A product manager decides what to build to meet customer needs in the best manner. A product owner looks to build these with the help of the development team. Both these roles are necessary for product-led growth and eventual customer success.

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Niyathi Rao

Niyathi is an experienced content marketer with a love for SaaS tech products. She reads a lot (mostly fiction) and is a huge news junkie. Niyathi loves exploring different forms of inbound marketing and taking on challenges.

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