Product Owner vs Product Manager: Roles and Responsibilities

Ninjas. Gurus. Wizards. Rock stars. The job market has produced many meaningless job titles over the past decade.

And with so many titles floating around, it can be difficult to discern who is doing what work and if certain titles mean the same thing. A common confusion is the difference between a product owner and a product manager.

Owner. Director. They look pretty similar! For anyone unfamiliar with the inner workings of a product team, you can assume they are the same. Although similar in name, these two roles are quite different.

While they both work closely on product launches, the roles of Product Owner and Product Manager are not interchangeable. This article will describe the differences between product management and product ownership.

Whether you’re a SaaS business or selling a specific good or service, you have a product that needs to be sold. And behind every product your business sells, there is a team dedicated to making sure the product is launched successfully and performing the way your customers expect.

Two of the most important roles in your product team are the product manager and the product owner. The functions of these positions may seem similar to those to the untrained eye, but they both support different parts of the product lifecycle.

Product managers are strategists

They act as the brand evangelists for your product outside of your business. A product manager leads the market research, customer advocacy, and budget for your product. They also manage the external and internal communications surrounding your product. Product managers also create customer personas for your potential buyers and ideal customers.

Product owners are technologists

They take the strategy designed by a product manager and turn it into an action plan for the product team. They work internally with cross-functional teams to make sure everything goes smoothly for a product launch, daily scrums, etc. They take the customer personas built by product managers and turn them into reality.

In some cases, a person may hold both the roles of product manager and product owner. This is typical for small businesses or start-ups. However, once your sales have increased and you have acquired more customers, you need both a Product Manager and a Product Owner.

Aubyn Casady, Senior Product Marketing Manager at G2, emphasizes the importance of having these two roles clearly defined for your business:

As someone who interacts with the product on a daily basis, it is essential to understand and accept the distinction between these roles, as neither can function successfully without the other.

Customer feedback and market fit keep a product relevant, but only if implemented successfully and accurately. I have worked in small companies that put them together into one, which may work, but is not sustainable because it uses two totally opposite sides of the brain.

The sooner you can distinguish between the two and make them work in harmony rather than against each other, the sooner you’ll find yourself launching products that don’t just work for your customers, but lead to changes for them. your industry.

As Aubyn points out above, at some point these two jobs will require special attention and separate teams. It helps you and your customers in the long run.

Product Owner Job Description

Starting your career in product ownership will require some strategy to get started. The role of a product owner usually falls under the IT department, which means the training requirements are just as different from those of a product manager.

Most product owners are required to have a graduate degree in computer science, engineering, software engineering, or a related field. Most companies expect a Masters degree in these same fields.

The skills required to own a product are more technical than those of a product manager. Here’s a rundown of the skills you’ll need:

Product Owner skills

Technical experience is required for a role in product ownership, as this position focuses on the backend of product design. Being up to date on the latest coding languages ​​and industry best practices is crucial.

Product manager job description

If you are looking to take the product management path, there are a few requirements that you will need to meet before you land the job of your dreams. Most product managers are required to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field and sometimes companies prefer applicants with an MBA.

Of course, experience and the right skills will take you a long way. You will need the perfect mix of technical and soft skills to master the art of product management. Here is an overview of the main skills required by product managers.

Product manager skills

Product managers are more focused on outward looking professional tasks. They work directly with the customer to ensure their happiness. Does that sound like something you’d be good at? Check out our article on product manager job descriptions for a deep dive into what it takes to become a product manager.

We are all products of our environment

Whether or not your team has a single product or an entire team depends on your needs and the size of your business. Ultimately, the right product path depends on your passion and skills.

Once your product is ready to launch, you will need a team to get it to market. Learn more about how product marketing play a role.

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