Product Owner vs. Product Manager: Which Is the Best Job Title


What distinguishes the roles of the product manager and owner? Does the product manager hold a position of authority over the product owner? Are both necessary?

It’s time to fully explore these queries now that the functions of the product owner and the product manager have been the subject of much discussion.

At the most fundamental level, there are various opposing definitions of product managers and product owners.

If these questions were posed to the individuals in these roles, I’m sure they would each respond differently.

Although there is a general overlap, the phrases are frequently in use synonymously. Product manager and product owner roles and responsibilities differ, nevertheless.

The appropriate product must be in place for startups and small enterprises, but titles can be perplexing. A product manager is necessary if your goal is to create a successful business around the new product you are starting with the assistance of a product owner.

The expansion of software-based products and the rise in popularity of Agile approaches have significantly changed product management in recent years, leading to various jobs and specialties.

It cannot be obvious to know what each role accomplishes and who is responsible for what because the parts of the product owner and product manager frequently share the same objectives.

It might not be easy to distinguish between a product owner and a product manager since several circumstances affect how these jobs function in organizations.

Each of these positions will be covered in depth in this article, along with how they compare and contrast.

Product Management: A Quick Gist

Product management is an organizational aspect that guides each phase of the lifespan of a product, from development to positioning and pricing, by placing the customer and the product first.

The history of product management began in 1931. Hewlett Packard was the first tech firm to execute this work and organize itself by goods in the 1940s.

Therefore, this subject is not new, but it is developing quickly as more businesses begin organizing themselves as software companies and around products.

“What is product management?” is brought up rather frequently, even by seasoned businesspeople. One reason is that many different roles are involved in product management. The function itself has very distinct meanings in various organizations.

The regular tasks cover a wide range of tactical and strategic responsibilities. Most product owners or managers do not assume all of these duties. In most businesses, other teams or departments possess at least some.

A company’s product management department is a key strategic driver. It significantly impacts whether products and the entire firm succeed or fail in the long and short term.

It’s a frequent misperception that product managers are in charge of all the day-to-day operations of a product’s development.

It is the only position in a firm that has a thorough understanding of every facet of the industry, including clients, the marketplace, rivals, trends, strategy, business models, and more. Excellent product management, therefore, creates great businesses.

Product management focuses not only on the features and advantages of the product but also on how the client determines the value of the product. It covers everything a customer might consider a product component, including how it markets, is supported, financed, and supported.

What Is the Focus of a Product Manager?

Simply put, the product manager is in charge of prioritizing what has to be in the process of building next.

In a comprehensive, high-level position, the product manager’s duties span the whole product lifecycle, from customer discovery to product delivery. The product manager takes note of the product strategy by comprehending client needs, the product’s product, and the market.

The product manager’s primary responsibilities are the long-term strategy, the product vision, market trends, and discovering new opportunities.

They are responsible for a multidisciplinary group that works on a product and enhances its qualities. A product or product line’s strategic plan outlines under this organizational function.

They specify the what, why, and when of the product the company creates.

To choose the optimal course of action, a product manager must have a comprehensive and long-term view of their product lines and the market. Additionally, they need to be able to lead and influence others while navigating the numerous procedures and approvals required to reach the market.

They collaborate with the project manager, other team members, and all relevant stakeholders to ensure a successful product launch.

Product managers conduct market analysis. Utilizing prioritization methodologies, they assess the features and goods that best satisfy client needs and wants.

To keep up a product “web,” a product manager must also be aware of the supply side and be able to coordinate and integrate the inputs from many suppliers and their timetables.

The entire product lifecycle is under the product manager’s control. It entails being present in the preliminary ideas and procedures leading up to the product launch and delivery.

To assess the state of the market now and its potential future, a product manager, must first locate trustworthy data sources and then analyze that data.

It entails conducting a competition study to assess the risks and opportunities in the market and, ultimately, gauge the product’s performance.

They direct the product strategy informed by market and client demands. They speak for the consumer and provide strategic guidance on transforming an idea into a usable, tangible product.

What Prioritizes a Product Owner?

Scrum is an agile framework for creating and maintaining complex products, and it is where the phrase “product owners” originates. A “Product Owner takes care of maximizing the value of the product arising from the efforts of the Development Team,” according to the official Scrum Guide.

The title “product owner” can be a little deceptive. It is not a person who owns the finished product or the business that manufactures the product.

It’s a word that derives from Scrum, a scaled agile paradigm for creating and maintaining complex products.

Backlog grooming is the sole responsibility of the product owner.

Regarding collaborating with the development team, the product owner role has a more constrained focus.

The product manager chooses what will be created or modified, while the product owner ensures that the development team follows through.

Product Manager vs. Product Owner: The Difference:

Because they differ depending on organizational and product needs, there is no single explanation for the distinctions between a product manager and a product owner.

A product manager has a long-term perspective, a big-picture vision for the product, and a highly strategic overall emphasis. Product owners, in contrast, focus on the short to medium term and are more detail-oriented.

Product owners look after the backlog, epics, and user stories, whereas product managers are in order of the product roadmap and MVPs.

NPS (for the product), Conversions (for the product), Revenue (for the business), and Churn (business) are the success metrics used by product managers. For the product owners, however, the focus is on the number of completed stories and other performance indicators for the development team.

Are Both Roles Necessary?

It can be tedious for many businesses to decide whether to hire a product manager, a product owner, or both.

The corporation must put results—not titles—as its primary consideration when making this choice.

Instead of the titles that will be used, the actual question regarding what a company requires must start with the desired product outcome. Prioritizing business value comes first, followed by evaluating the roles and procedures of the product management team to support those objectives.

Combining product ownership and management with other tasks, such as product marketing, is possible.

What is crucial, though, is that your organization has a team structure that supports your process and that the Product Managers and Product Owners on your team are fully aware of the duties and objectives specific to their positions.