Project management vs Product Management…What’s The Diff

Understanding Project management vs Product management
Understanding Project management vs Product management

Project management vs. product management, the two terms are often interchanged, usually by the same people who try to pee all over modify your product roadmaps with pet projects, but let’s take a moment to dive into the differences and similarities of the two disciplines.

What's the difference between Project Management Vs Product Management
Project Management Vs Product Management: No need to fight about it 😉

Project Management vs Product Management: The Differences

While it shares a certain degree of overlap with project management, product management is restricted to managing the life cycles of products,  from the ideation/ design phase to the distribution.   Sometimes in self referential glory, they consider themselves the CEO of a product line, but that demonstrates a misguided view of what a CEO does. 

Product managers situate themselves at the nexus point where customers’ needs meet with their company’s business goals by:

  • Driving the development of products
  • Prioritizing initiatives
  • Making strategic decisions about what gets built. and focus on business objectives, measurable goals, and positive outcomes.
  • Managing stakeholders that are located externally, internally, laterally, and and operational domains.

Project managers have a complementary role to product managers. A project manager is responsible for delivering a project that meets its requirements on-time, on-budget, and to the required degree of quality.

Project managers have little input to define and prioritize business goals and projects.  They oversee the execution of approved and developed plans by managing schedules and resources to get things done.

Their involvement with an initiative doesn’t begin until things are already defined, but once it’s placed in their hands, they snap the whip to make things happen.

Project Management vs Product-Management: The Similarities

When comparing project management vs product management, you will see that you often function as the adult in the room, enforcing a level of operational and methodological discipline in order to keep executive ego from running a mock. 

That is to say there is some overlap that usually occurs in smaller work environments, as product managers are often tasked with managing the day to day processes associated with executing on the product plan.

In larger organization, the share some similarities in that both:

  • Are cross-functional
  • Need to be highly persuasive as they do not directly manage the resources required to complete any given task. 
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