After reading this title, you may be one of those asking yourself “and isn’t this one and the same position?” Many people think so. In fact, in some corporations the boundaries between these specific roles have been blurred and tailored to the needs of a particular organization. Read our article to find out more.

Project manager, product manager and product owner? – table of contents:

  1. Aren’t these further terms to indicate hierarchy?
  2. The difference between a project and a product
  3. Project manager
  4. Product owner
  5. Product manager
  6. The same goal, different responsibilities at each stage
  7. Responsibilities
  8. Product manager and product owner – are these two roles necessary?

Aren’t these further terms to indicate hierarchy?

A product owner is a person who exists only within the framework of Scrum. However, this doesn’t mean that a company that operates on Scrum basis can’t have a product manager or project manager. Eventually, all of these people can work together on a single project. This makes it even more difficult to tell the different roles apart, especially for outsiders.

product manager

The difference between a project and a product

This may seem trivial to you. However, defining specific boundaries and rules for how to tell the difference between a project and a product is key to understanding the responsibilities of specific positions.

A project is defined in time. It has a beginning and an end. Its characteristic feature is that it is a unique, single event. After its completion, the team that worked on it is dissolved and assigned to new tasks.

A product is a platform, application, system or good or service that is created, maintained and developed. Work on a product is usually carried out by the same group of people or several groups that work together.

Project manager

A project manager is a person who is responsible for the lifecycle of a project. Their job is to lead it from start to finish. This would not be possible without a proper plan. Thus, the project manager’s tasks include planning based on the resources at hand, coordinating the team to achieve success and taking care of documentation.

Product owner

A product owner is a person who is responsible for contact with the other members of the Scrum team. A product owner supervises their work and verifies the results. Most often this is done during regular reviews. Depending on the project, the product owner may also participate in daily meetings of developers. In a word, their task is to watch over a given product, but from the technical side. Here the name is very misleading. A product owner is not an owner, but a representative of the Scrum team.

Product manager

A product manager is responsible for the product as a whole, being with it all the way from the idea to launching it. A product manager must oversee the work of various teams so that they follow the established path. Product managers must work with everyone, not just the product team.

The same goal, different responsibilities at each stage

When setting objectives

The product manager determines the vision and strategy for the product. In the subsequent stages of the product life cycle, new challenges emerge to which they must respond.

The project manager oversees the entire project. Their main task is to deal with deadlines and organize all the work between teams so that they achieve success, i.e. deliver the finished product. Their main task is coordination.

The product owner is an internal consultant whose job is to bring the product vision closer to individual teams and respond to their problems or challenges so that the whole process follows the established vision.

When creating a roadmap

The product manager creates a product roadmap so that the strategic plans align with the work of the teams. Their tasks also include collecting suggestions or ideas and updating plans.

The product owner oversees the roadmap created by the product manager and reviews it with respect to priorities.

The project manager creates a schedule that shows the upcoming tasks to be completed. In their plans, they must also take into account the resources at their disposal.


In the case of large organizations, it is usually the product manager that is the head of the product team. Product managers cooperate with the departments responsible for marketing, engineering, as well as sales and support. They deal with the product as a whole and have influence on all issues related to it. They are the ones who have contact with the top management. Product owners, on the other hand, work with development teams. They are responsible for the technical infrastructure. Project managers are supervisors of entire projects. Their task is to maintain a good level of work and motivation of all team members.

Product manager and product owner – are these two roles necessary?

It depends. The opinions of various specialists are contradictory. Some believe that having both is very important and brings a lot of benefits to the company, while others say that it is just creating unnecessary confusion. Experts also believe that two separate junior/senior positions can be introduced instead, but others insist that this is not in line with Scrum principles. Opinions on the subject are conflicting. All due to the fact that it is still a fresh model and has not yet entered the canon of management.

Read also: Diversity management.

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What is the difference between a project manager, product manager and product owner? andy nichols avatar 1background

Author: Andy Nichols

A problem solver with 5 different degrees and endless reserves of motivation. This makes him a perfect Business Owner & Manager. When searching for employees and partners, openness and curiosity of the world are qualities he values the most.