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Product Manager v Product Owner

Product Manager v Product Owner Comparison differences

Many companies these days have the roles of Product Manager and Product Owner. People often get confused with these two roles. Some think both are the same in what they do, some say that Product Managers are called Product Owners when the SCRUM framework is used in Project Delivery. This statement is not entirely inaccurate when we look at what a Product Manager and Product Owner do in their respective roles. In this article, we shall examine the difference between Product Manager and Product Owner in detail, and then go on to address the topic of Product Manager v Product Owner by doing a detailed comparison.

The Roles of, Product Manager, and Product Owner operate differently in different companies based on various factors such as the Nature of the Product being built, How large the business is, Use of Scrum framework and Agile practices in project delivery, and the Company Vision and philosophy itself.

In spite of the several differences in their roles, the product manager and the product owner have a common goal — to build and improve products that create meaningful value for customers and all stakeholders within the company. Because they share the same goal, there are some areas of overlap, however, it is difficult to clearly demarcate the roles and responsibilities of the two positions.

What does a Product Manager do?

The product manager is a holistic, high-level role with responsibilities that encompass the entire product lifecycle from customer discovery to product delivery. He drives the product strategy by understanding customer needs, the product, and the overall market.

Below is a brief list of some of the activities of a product manager:

  • Customer Discovery – Discover what users need by conducting user research and unveiling critical insights
  • Create the product’s long-term vision and strategy.
  • Align the team around a cohesive product roadmap.
  • Decides and/or prioritizes what features to build next.
  • Ensures the alignment of all internal and external stakeholders to the strategy and direction of the Product.

A good product manager is expected to be a Strategic leader, product visionary, customer spokesman, and team champion. Due to their multidisciplinary role and strategic focus, product managers are often called “mini-CEOs.”

What does a Product Owner do?

The term Product Owner comes from SCRUM — an agile framework for building and sustaining complex products. According to the official Scrum Guide, a “Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Development Team.”

Below is a brief list of some of the activities of a Product Owner:

  • Owns the Product backlog and is solely responsible for grooming and refinement.
  • Turns customer pains and problems into actionable user stories, prioritizes the user stories in the product backlog.
  • Constructs and prioritizes production processes to ensure that the development team is clear on what to work on next.
  • Attends all Scrum meetings to ensure that development work is aligned with the Product roadmap set by the product manager.
  • Acts are the voice of the customer to the development team.
  • Provides feedback on the validated roadmap to the product manager.

Product Manager v Product Owner Comparison

Product Manager v Product Owner

The Product Manager should have a Long term vision of the product. He discovers what users need, prioritizes what to build next, aligns the team around a product roadmap, and ensures that all internal and external stakeholders are aligned to the strategy and direction of the Product.

The Product Owner owns the Product Backlog and is responsible for maximizing the value of the product. He creates user stories for the development team and acts as the voice of the customer in the Scrum process.

The role of the product manager is, among other things, customer-facing. Conversely, the product owner works primarily with the production team to ensure that development processes align with the product roadmap.

Simply put, the product manager decides what products to build next, and the product owner helps the development team to build the products.

To help you visualize the two roles in a structured way, we prepared a table that compares the differences:

Product Manager Product Owner
Overall focus
  • Highly strategic and long term focus
  • Focus on the vision of the product.
  • More detailed and tactical oriented.
  • Short to mid-term focus.
Areas of responsibility
  • Product vision
  • Customer discovery
  • Cross-team alignment
  • Feature prioritization
  • Optimizing the development process.
  • Turning the product vision into an actionable backlog.
  • Advocating customers’ needs to the development team.
  • Product roadmap
  • MVPs
  • Backlog
  • Epics
  • User stories
Success metrics
  • NPS (product metric)
  • Conversions (product metric)
  • Revenue (business metric)
  • Churn (business metric)
  • Completed stories.
  • Other metrics related to the performance of the development team.



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