Tuesday

Project Manager or Product Manager what’s the difference?

I sat down a few months ago with our HR recruitment officer – I began to sketch out the type of person we needed to fill the role of a Product Manager. The recruitment officer asked the question – what’s the difference between a Project Manager and a Product Manager?

He posed the question because he had just placed a Project Manager in another department and had a few CVs of people who had applied for the post of Project Manager and might fit the position of Product Manager.
I began to explain the difference and then thought ah a simple analogy will suffice.

A Project Manager is like a midwife – he/she will deliver the project and then moves onto the next one. The Project Manager cares for the product up until the point when the product is delivered – then hands the responsibility over to the mother - their job is done. Where as the Product Manager is akin to the mother he/she conceives the idea, runs with it for many months, through requirements gather, development, test and UAT, goes through the painful exercise of bringing that product to market and then supports it until it is made obsolete. The Product Managers job is never done!

Question: if the Project Manager is the midwife the baby the product and the Product Manager the mother then who is the Father?

Share your thoughts.

13 comments:

  1. The developers are the ones who do the real work, so they are the fathers. No - they are the mothers! The Project Manager is the father who gets obstacles out of the way for the mother. The product manager is...neither mother nor father, but perhaps genetic counselor who decides what kind of baby the should have? Sounds like this is getting to be a leaky analogy...

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  2. I think that the main difference between product and project managers is the fact that they have different objectives. The project manager has to deliver in time and as planned, while the product manager has to deliver in time and what's needed at the moment of the release.

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  3. Hi Carmen,

    I follow your trend of thought. The key difference in organisations that I have worked in is that the Project people walk away after delivery while the Product people have stick with it all until features or product(s) are made obsolete. What’s needed is always up for debate as the project moves on scrum is aimed to ensure that both the project and product people hit mile stones and deliver functionality that meets customer expectations – by adapting along the way.

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  4. The product is a collaboration between the User and Product Manager. So the user is the Father.

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  5. I talked a bit more about project management vs. product management on my blog. There were a lot of good comments from others as well. To Carmen's point, the key is understanding the differences and aligning the objectives as much as possible.

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  6. The father is the customer – standing on the side during birth, providing money to the family and often take the kid and play with it…

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  7. The FATHER is the company funding the project. Their funding is analogous to the seed that impregnates the MOTHER.

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  8. Upper management is the father. If the Product Manager is the mother, she should convince the upper management to fund and have this baby. Once the go ahead signal is done it is the mother who takes care of the baby till the baby is grown and so off to college. I see project manager is like a doctor who monitors the baby development and reports the same to both dad and mom. Any problems is dealt by project manager.

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  9. I am curious to know how you think these roles are best structured. Should they all be subsets of the product development group or should they be 2 separate entities? Which one works best? In my opinion, keeping them all within product development lends itself to everyone being on equal footing and being stakeholders in the success of the project. To me, having them in separate groups feeds the notion of the 2 groups always being at odds and not working toward a common goal. What do you think?

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  10. Hi

    I think all are equal in a project work. Project manager and project management team.

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  11. I think that the main difference between product and project managers is the fact that they have different objectives. The project manager has to deliver in time and as planned, while the product manager has to deliver products on time, to budget and quality which are more customer focused, tailor made solutions based on unique requirements of the individual customer.The product manager is more focus on the market globally and not on a single customer demand. Also the role of product management spans many activities from strategic to tactical and varies based on the organizational structure of the company.

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  12. The Project Sponsor is the father. S/he provides for the product to be raised and shipped and then waits for the ROI :-)

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  13. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.






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