Product Owner vs Product Manager – who is who and do you need both?

Team building

Today we look at two jobs that, although have the same word in their name and are sometimes confused with each other, are in fact completely different roles with very different scopes and responsibilities. Here we go!

Product Owner and Product Manager 

The product owner vs product manager debate is a long one and varies, depending on who you speak to. A lot was said about the two jobs and there has been a hot discussion about whether each project needs both or just one of them. To find out the answers, let’s look at both roles in more detail.

Who is the Product Manager?

A product manager is a person responsible for the whole vision of a certain product, for its big picture: from the very beginning till the completion. It’s a role that defines the product and decides on its features, functionality, and looks. 

The product manager’s vision is however not just a vision. Behind it stands well-thought-through planning and analysis of the markets and customers. Product managers check the needs of clients and create a product that responds to those needs. Their role is one of the most important ones when it comes to product management as it has a massive impact not only on the actual product but also on the overall strategy of the whole company. 

Product Manager – responsibilities

The most important responsibilities shared by people who work as product managers include: 

  • Analyzing the existing market, the competition, and the customers’ needs,
  • Creating a unique vision for a product that responds to customers’ needs,
  • Conducting a business analysis by forecasting profit and loss,
  • Managing relations with external stakeholders,
  • Offering cross-functional leadership across all departments involved in the product development process.

Who is the Product Owner?

A product owner is a person who makes a product manager’s vision come true. A person doing the product owner’s job is a guardian of the actual process of product development, giving the team directions on how to proceed. 

As defined by the Scrum Guide, the product owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the development team. A product owner is also responsible for the product backlog.  

Product Owner – responsibilities

The most important responsibilities shared by people who work as product owners include: 

  • Changing the product vision into an actionable backlog,
  • Building and setting priorities for the development team,
  • Liaising with internal stakeholders and participating in meetings,
  • Acting as the main communication link between the customers and the development teams,
  • Giving feedback when it comes to the product roadmap. 

Do you need both a product owner and a product manager?

Given their very different responsibilities and varied sets of skills needed to do both jobs, it seems natural to say that to successfully develop a product each company needs both a product owner and a product manager. They do two different things, yet they work closely together to make the vision come true. 

But it all depends on the organization they are to work with, on its possibilities and aims. Every project is different and needs a different approach, and the fact that all went well with one product development process doesn’t guarantee it will be the same as the next one. 

This is why we recommend you get in touch with our team if you are about to start a project and need advice from product managers and product owners. With extensive experience working with different clients on different projects, we will give you advice and help you kick-start your own process!

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