How Different Is a Product Manager from a Project Manager?

You might be thinking about a career in management, but are still at a loss about which path to go. As you are browsing for management jobs, you chanced upon two job titles: Product Manager and Project Manager. If you are a little bit confused about the difference between the two kinds of managerial work, reading this post might help enlighten you.

Which Is Which?

These two jobs might look or sound the same, but in reality, they are different from each other. Explained simply, a Product Manager is mainly responsible for a company’s products – from planning to execution. If it has something to do with the product, the product manager is in charge of it.

A Project Manager, on the other hand, is someone who is in charge of a company’s projects, from the formulation of ideas down to project completion. The Product Manager can work with the Project Manager to ensure that both the product and the project become a success.

How Different Is a Product Manager from a Project Manager

Difference in Skills

There are a number of skills that both a Product Manager and a Project Manager need to have in order to do their jobs well. Both managers need to have leadership skills in order to manage teams well. Both types of managers should also have exceptional verbal and written communication skills in order to make their thoughts and plans clear to other people.

Below are some of the skills that may be more necessary for a Product Manager than from a Project Manager, and vice versa.

A Product Manager should have the following skills in order to be both effective and efficient:

  1. Domain Expertise or extensive knowledge of the business and the market – A product manager should have extensive knowledge about the kind of business the company is into, as well as the type of customers the company has. A good product manager should be able to anticipate customer wants and needs, and develop a product that satisfies that want or need.
  2. Business Expertise – Think of a product manager as the product’s CEO because she/he has to make sure that the company’s products generate profit continuously. To do this, a product manager must be equipped with a lot of business skills to be able to continually achieve that goal of generating profit from the company’s products.
  3. Operational Ability – a Product Manager should be able to handle the easiest to the hardest task in Operations. From updating several spreadsheets to product planning to designing, a product manager should be able to carry out those tasks well.

Below are some of the needed skills a Project Manager must have in order to be both effective and efficient.

1. Able to handle high-stress situations – With project management, there will always be tensed situations and conflicts of ideas in the working environment. These situations cause a lot of stress to the people involved, which could affect the overall productivity and efficiency of a team.

(a) A Project Manager should be able to find solutions or workarounds in order to diffuse tension, resolve conflicts of ideas, and lessen the stress in the situation and in the working environment.

2. Forward-thinking and visionary skills – A project manager should know how to THINK BIG and have a vision. She/he should always be looking at the bigger picture and initiate projects that will lead to a progressive business.

(a) Having visionary skills, a Project Manager should not just focus on short-term goals but instead, a clear picture of what needs to be achieved on a large scale and be able to sustain that achievement for a long time.

3. Multi-handling skills – A Project Manager should be able to handle multiple projects at a time, and give each project the time and effort it needs to be a success.

4. Detail Orientation – As every single mistake can have a considerable impact, a project manager should be accurate, thorough, and organized when it comes to details. From the biggest consideration down to the smallest one, a project manager should ensure that every single detail is checked and taken care of.

Detail Orientation

Difference in Responsibilities

Put simply, a Product Manager is responsible for everything that has to do with the company’s products while a Project Manager is responsible for everything that has to do with the company’s projects. Below are the specific responsibilities of each type, making it clear how different one job is from the other.

Responsibilities of a Product Manager

  1. Clarify a product’s vision, roadmap, and strategy to a profit-generating product.
  2. Collect and control the requirements of the market (or the customers) and make it a priority.
  3. Act as customer support to ensure that the users’ and buyers’ needs are made clear to the company.
  4. Work closely with Engineering, Marketing, Sales, and Support to make sure that the business thrives, and the customers are satisfied.
  5. Must have MRD (Market Requirements Document) knowledge and be able to clarify what the problem is, or what the customers want or need. Having a clear picture of the problem, the product manager should then create a solution and be able to prioritize and justify every part of the said solution.
  6. A Product Manager is also in charge of beta programs or pilot programs that ensure a product’s success or improvements. Once products have been successfully launched, it is also a Product Manager’s responsibility to make sure that product quality is maintained, and that the customers are satisfied with it.
  7. Having extensive knowledge about the market, a Product Manager is also in charge of creating or proposing new products. For existing products, a Product Manager is responsible for any improvements necessary for the product to continually gain and sustain customer satisfaction.
  8. A Product Manager is also responsible for a product’s positioning in the market. How the product will feel to customers and what the customers think about a product is all up to the Product Manager.
  9. A Product Manager is in charge of putting a price on a product. Having this responsibility, she/he should understand how competitive pricing works, and what price to put on a product for it to compete well in the Market.

Responsibilities of a Project Manager:

1. Lead sessions in project planning.
2. Create a system between internal resources and staff
3. Supervise the progress of projects
4. Make sure that every project meets its deadline
5. Manage relationships between stakeholders and clients
6. Crafting contracts and signing those off
7. Keep an eye on all documentation related to a project
8. Engage in the design, presentation, and review of a project
9. Develop risk mitigation plans for a project
10. Create detailed reports on projects for submission to the executive group
11. Ensure opportunities for growth
12. Start-off new initiatives for projects
13. Manage different teams assigned on different projects.

Difference in Salaries

Both a Product Manager and a Project Manager receive a hefty salary for having challenging tasks every day. The difference in salaries can be considerable, but it will depend on things like experience, geographic location, and some other important factors.

Product Management is a well-paying job. Not only does this job pay well. It also provides opportunities for career improvement. Salary websites like Payscale and Glassdoor report salaries for a Product Manager ranging from $63,000 to $ 200,000. This range is broad because several factors like experience, education, geographic location, and expertise in the industry need to be considered.

Project Management is also a well-paying job. In the United States, Project Managers can earn from a range of $93,000 to $140,000. Exactly how much salary a Project Manager will get depends on factors like education, experience, or the industry the company is in.

Difference in Salaries

Difference in Training Needed

Product management is not an easy task and will require a lot of skills acquired through training and product management courses. To become a good Product Manager, one has to have a high Emotional Quotient and the following competencies:

  1. Doing customer interviews
  2. Carrying out user testing
  3. Creating designs in a short amount of time
  4. Roadmap planning and prioritization
  5. Resource allocation
  6. Making market assessments
  7. Translating technical-to-business requirements
  8. Translating business-to-technical requirements
  9. Creating models for pricing and revenue
  10. Establishing and tracking the metrics for success

Project management is also a task that requires training and certifications mostly in handling people, projects, and stressful situations. Aside from considerable experience in the field, companies hire project managers who are trained, or are graduates in the fields of Engineering, Computer Science, Business Administration, and Management.

Difference in Training Needed

Conclusion

While there are differences between the two types of management jobs, both are challenging yet well-paying. Both jobs require a lot of skills and training, but the opportunity for career growth is always present. As long as you have passion for the job, commit to working hard and master the needed skills, you can always find the perfect opportunity to either be a Product Manager or a Project Manager.

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