Product Owner vs Product Manager

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StarAgile

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Mar 26, 2020

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The terms Product Owner and Product Manager are sometimes used interchangeably, however, they are distinct job titles. Product Managers are responsible for dealing with external stakeholders, whereas Product Owners are responsible for dealing with internal stakeholders. In this essay, we have discussed what Product Owners and Managers are, their work functions, and the significant contrasts between them.

Who is a Product Owner?

A product owner is an important part of the Scrum Team who is responsible for the product’s outcome in an organization. He is responsible for maintaining and optimizing the product backlog. Moreover, he is required to collaborate with various scrum teams for seamless product development. The Product Owner's Salary also depends on the different roles set by the companies and how they impart value to the development process. 

Role of Product Owner

The Product Owner Roles are defined as follows: He needs to ensure that maximum value is being extracted through the development process. This means collaborating closely with the development team to ensure all the requirements are well-defined and executed on time. Let us see in detail what does a Product Owner do on a day-to-day basis: 

1. Defining Product Backlog 

It is one of the primary responsibilities of the Product Owner and he must define the product backlog as per the requirements of the customer. The Product Owners must update the Product Backlog list first and then optimize it as per the customer’s requirements. The list needs to be updated regularly as the customer’s requirements change and evolve. Moreover, he is also responsible for assigning tasks to the development team. 

2. Involvement in the development process

The product owner must understand the client’s requirements and communicate the same to the development team. He is also responsible for initiating the sprint and review meetings that will help streamline the whole development process. 

3. Primary Point of Contact 

The Product Owner is the primary contact of all the stakeholders for smooth delivery and product execution. Moreover, he needs to communicate the customer’s vision with the relevant stakeholders including business partners, scrum master, project team, and developers. 

4. Evaluating the Progress 

A Product Owner must be able to monitor each phase of the development process. He should be part of every iteration and suggest any change that can be made in the whole development process. Based on the feedback, he also needs to ensure the product features are altered accordingly. 

The career path of a Product Owner 

The straightforward career path for a Product Owner is to a manager. But with the help of different PO certification levels, he/she can achieve the following job roles: 

  • Business Analyst 
  • Product Manager 
  • Project Manager 
  • Chief Executive Officer 

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Who is a Product Manager?

A Product Manager identifies the customer needs and then creates a business plan on a much larger level. He articulates what features of the product will affect the audience and the company and makes decisions accordingly. He is also responsible for gathering industry insights and making firm decisions about the development process. He is responsible for communicating everything with the external stakeholders. 

Role of Product Manager 

A Product Manager is a team player, strong leader, customer spokesperson, and product visionary. He/she works with a relatively larger team wherein the objectives are defined by inputs from marketers, analysts, and researchers. Afterwards, executed by the developers and designers. Let us see what the daily tasks of a Product Manager look like: 

  • Identify the user requirements and share the insights for the next steps. 
  • Help unite the team around unified objectives. 
  • Completing the vision for the product’s life cycle.  
  • He has to choose what features he needs to start working on first and then define the overall flow of development. 
  • He is responsible for delivering the product to the customer that matches their requirements. 
  • He needs to collaborate with external and internal stakeholders to make sure the development process is going smoothly. 

The career path of a Product Manager

In the whole career path, project managers can find themselves in different roles that include the following: 

  • Associate Product Manager 
  • Senior Product Manager
  • Director 
  • VP of the product 
  • Chief Product Officer 

Product Owner vs. Product Manager 

 Product Manager  Product Owner 
Overall focus Long-term focus on the company goals. Short-term goals for the company. 
Areas of responsibility 

Product Vision

Customer Discovery

Cross-team alignment Feature alignment. 

Optimize the development process

Converting the product vision into an actionable backlog

Communicate the customer requirement with the development team.

KPIs 

NPS 

Conversions 

Revenue 

Churn 

Completed tasks 

Metrics measuring the success of the development team 

Interaction

External stakeholders 

Internal teams

Internal teams 

Approach

Customer & business centric 

 Customer & team centric 

Roadmap 

Creates a product roadmap 

Creates a backlog roadmap 

Contribution 

Define the product vision and works to accomplish it. 

Contributes to the vision of the PM.  

 

Can a Product Owner Also Be a Product Manager?

The Product Manager identifies the requirements, builds what is the next priority, and executes the plan with the team. Whereas, a Product Owner oversees the Product backlog and maximizes the product value. 

The tasks of both individuals vary greatly based on the range of product development. A single person can work for both roles if the company decides to but ideally, the roles are different and must be carried by two different individuals. 

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Final clarity

Product Owner is the role played by an individual in a scrum team to write stories and prioritize backlogs.  Product Manager is the job where the person is the brand ambassador of the product. 

We would personally suggest you to attend CSPO Training Online to know more about a Product Owner. Yes, it is important for a  Product Manager also to attend this course for role clarity. The course will provide you with the necessary training and practical exposure to build the right product for your organization as a Product Manager or a Product Owner. It enables you to find a job in any scrum team. 

 

FAQs 

Is the product manager more senior than the Product Owner?

Yes, the Product Manager is more senior than the Product Owner in a traditional hierarchy. The PM is in direct contact with the stakeholders whereas the POs are not. 

Do product owners report to Product Managers?

Yes, Product Owners usually report to the Product Managers. 

Who is paid more Product Owner or the Product Manager?

Product Owner's salary is usually less than the Product Manager's because of the expertise and years of experience they hold in product development. 

What is the next position after Product Owner?

After Product Owner, there are many different career paths that open up for an individual including: 

  • Senior Product Owner 
  • Scrum Master 
  • Portfolio Owner 
  • Product Manager 
  • Product Director
  • & Head of Product 

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