The differences between Project Managers and Product Managers roles

Published on 25 November 2020

Reading time 3 minutes

In this article, we will list the differences between a Product Manager and a Project Manager.


Why a Product Manager is different from a Project Manager?

Many people still have doubts about the role of these two functions in a team and it is very common to find in the descriptions of job offers of Product Managers the indication “we are not looking for project managers”. Lot of people are applying for it thinking it is the same!


First things first: Let's create a definition for each role

Project Manager 

Project Managers, with the help of their team, are in charge of multiple responsibilities that are known as the five project phases of a project life cycle. 

  • They are in charge of developing a plan that meets the stakeholders' expectations and assembles a project team. 
  • The Project Manager then monitors and controls the execution of the project until a quality deliverable is produced. 
  • In fact, project management is an umbrella term that covers a number of related disciplines, such as planning, scheduling, task management, resource management and risk management.

Companies in healthcare, aviation, technology, software development, engineering, construction, real estate, publishing, financial, marketing, manufacturing, education, insurance, government need and seek good project managers.

Product Manager

A Product Manager connects business strategy, design knowledge, and customer needs in order to develop a product that is relevant, feasible, and valuable. A Product Manager is the person who identifies the customer need and the larger business objectives that a product or feature will fulfil and forms a team to turn that vision into a reality. 


Product Manager Skills vs. Project Managers Skills

There are core competencies that every Product Manager must have:

  • conducting customer interviews and user testing
  • running design sprints
  • feature prioritization and road map planning
  • the art of resource allocation (it is not a science!)
  • performing market assessments
  • translating business-to-technical requirements, and vice versa

As a Project Manager here are some competencies you must have:

  • fundamental project management skills
  • project management tools & techniques
  • leadership
  • provide direction
  • provide vision
  • coach/mentor team members
  • effective decision making


Day to day of a Product Manager

Morning Meetings

If your company runs an agile development process you will scrum to organize your work and your teamwork. So your day as a Product Manager will start with a stand-up.

Talking to clients

Time with customers will also help you plan upcoming features.

Product Backlog Management

You are responsible for ensuring that your team doesn’t have any dead time between feature development. You need to prioritize which features your team will work on in upcoming sprints.

Strategic Planning

You’re responsible not just for the current performance of the product, but also for the future performance of the product in 1 year, 3 years, from now.

Meetings with Other Teams

You’ll spend a significant chunk of your time in meetings. Depending on the size of the company, you’ll spend time with various cross-functional teams like sales, product marketing, and business development.

Data Analysis

Data is crucial to making well-informed product decisions so Product Managers should be able to understand and hopefully pull the data they need to run analyses. 

Last, but also very important: Empathy 

Empathy and communication are necessary because your job is fundamentally dealing with people and tools.


Interested in becoming a Product Manager? Register to get more information here: https://apply.wildcodeschool.com/product-management-course