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Product Manager Vs. Project Manager

Foluso Ayodele
Leadership and Entrepreneurship Evangelist. Project Manager and Innovation Enthusiast. Technical Writer
・2 min read

About five years ago, I came into the tech world and started coding C++. Later on, I got into other things like Full-Stack Web Development, Robotics, Mobile and Desktop App Development, etc.

Along the way, I came across the role of Project Manager and researching in-depth, I also came across the role of a Product Manager, and earlier this year, I became a self-taught product & project manager in Tech.

What is the difference between a product and a project manager? Are you correct using the terms interchangeably?

I've taken some time to break both concepts down in this article and glad to want to share what I've learned so far.

Who is a Product Manager?

A product Manager is one saddled with the responsibility for setting out the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for a product or product line.

As a product manager, you must have an in-depth knowledge of how that product works because you'll need to make strategic product decisions. You should be able to answer questions like why this product? why is it coming at this time? what strategy is best for the development of this product? etc.

You'll also be the one to define the requirement of the product, the desired user experience. With the right mindset, you've got the greatest job on Earth. Let's call you, the Visionary.

Who is a project manager?

A Project Manager is one tasked with the responsibility of starting, planning, designing, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing a project.

As a Project manager, you must have a combination of skills from general management skills, human relations, critical thinking, etc. You are the one to make the decisions that affect the execution of a project, and every decision you make must be beneficial to the project.

You will need to familiarize yourself with Project Management Softwares that help make work easier and faster. With the right mindset, you have the best job on Earth. We'll call you, the Executor.

Connecting the Dots

Product and Project managers work hand-in-hand to see to the successful completion of a project. The Project Manager gets the details, the vision, the strategy of the product from the Product Manager, then draws out a convenient and workable plan on how the project is to be executed by the development team.

The one who always calls or texts you to ask for deadlines, day and night, is the Project Manager. In a team where both a Product and Project managers are present, the Product manager is always echoing why the project should be done, the vision behind it, and talks of such, while the project manager is always echoing the deadlines to be met.

Conclusion

However, in most cases, we have seen one power person, play the two roles.

I have two questions for you;

  1. Which are you; the Visionary or the Executor?
  2. How effective can one be when trying to manage the two roles?

I can’t wait to hear your amazing contributions. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to hit me up on Twitter: @ayfolut . Special thanks to @lordghostx , for helping out with editing this article.

Discussion (3)

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gedalyakrycer profile image
Gedalya Krycer

Thank you for this breakdown! While I have been aware of the various responsibilities, it's interesting how they fit into each of the roles. Makes a lot of sense.

After thinking about your questions for a bit, I think I am more of an Executor then a Visionary.

I worked at an agency as a designer and then later on as a digital design director. Throughout this time I believe the roles included a bit of both.

• I translated the client's requests into a visual design / technical feature set that supported their use cases. (Product Manager)

• But then also managed our design and development teams to keep the projects on track/budget and balance everyone's workload. (Project Manager)

In retrospect, I don't think I was as effective doing both. My team would have been better served with two separate people.

Besides being effective, I would also suggest another metric is fulfillment.

Executing on something and envisioning something can work different sides of the brain. For me, I enjoy executing a bit more and feels like I have gotten progress done.

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ayfolut profile image
Foluso Ayodele Author

Hi Krycer,
Great one indeed.
I wish you the best in this path you've taken.

Do well to check back here, cause I'll be writing a ton of articles to simplify this concept and make it more practicable.

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olgagalikua profile image
Olga Galik

thanks for sharing insights regarding product manager vs project manager :)