Understanding the differences between a product manager and a project manager

The difference between a product manager and a project manager can be hard to understand because the two types of managers work toward similar goals. However, both have different responsibilities that often overlap with each other.

The most common goal for both roles is to make sure their products meet customer demand. Although making the final decision on whether or not a feature. This will be included in the product is typically the project manager’s job.

Both managers need to be able to work with customers and users, as well as manage a team on a daily basis. Depending on the nature of their respective companies, managers might interact with an even larger workforce. This includes developers or other types of designers.

In this article, we’ll dive into the similarities and differences between project managers and product managers. Plus, what kind of degrees and experience do they typically need to land a job in either role. Let’s begin by looking at why these two types of managers are needed and what kinds of projects and products they might work on.

What is a Project Manager:

A product manager’s job is typically considered more strategic than tactical. He or she needs to weigh what customers need against current business goals and develop a product strategy accordingly. The manager will work closely with other departments as well as support staff, such as customer service, to provide the best possible feedback and insight into demand.

Meanwhile, a project manager usually works in IT or another department where they have to manage resource allocation for projects. These types of managers are often called team leads because their job is to guide teams toward achieving predetermined goals. Projects can be short-term or multi-year initiatives that produce either products or deliverables.

For example, when Apple designs a new iPhone, the project manager will work with teams. This includes engineers and designers to ensure that their vision is executed correctly.

The project managers who work on these kinds of large-scale initiatives. He must be able to motivate team members while still making sure each task is completed on time. They’ll constantly need to adjust their plans based on changing conditions. And make sure every department is on the same page.

What is a Product Manager?

A product manager is usually in charge of a specific product. This could be anything from a digital tool or application to a physical device. Product managers have to ensure that their creations match customer demand. This aligns with the goals set forth by the company.

Because creating a final product can take several months or even years. Product managers may rely on feedback from users and customers to make decisions about the product. They must be open to changing their plans if necessary. Although they need to ensure that this process remains as efficient as possible.

A product manager has a lot of people he or she works with on a daily basis, including designers, engineers, and potential customers. This type of manager meets with multiple groups on a regular basis. This could be once a week or multiple times per day.

Most product managers’ work happens in a collaborative environment. This is where they must be able to lead a team toward a common goal. The manager’s ability to listen and communicate clearly is often as important as their knowledge of product design and business strategy.

Differences between a Product Manager and a Project Manager:

There are of course many similarities between a product manager and a project manager. They both need to lead teams toward specific goals, understand how to build strong relationships with their staff. Plus, motivate the group in terms of reaching individual and collective objectives.

However, there are also major differences that companies should keep in mind. When they’re looking for someone to fill either role. Let’s run through a few of them to understand what each job entails and where their skill sets come into play.

1. Experience:

Project managers may have more experience leading teams in the workplace. But product managers tend to be better at building relationships with customers. Since a project manager often works behind the scenes on initiatives that are pulled from current company goals. He or she may not always have a chance to interact directly with the public.

On the other hand, a product manager works on products that will be used by multiple people across a company — or even outside of it. Since their work is seen by a lot of eyes and could affect a large number of target users, the product manager has to know how to make decisions based on feedback and what the user needs.

2. Authority:

Product managers are usually in charge of their specific projects, which means they have the authority to make final decisions about what happens with their creation. They work on products independently, without interference from other departments or teams.

Project managers might be tasked with overseeing one particular project that has multiple goals, but they don’t have as much control over that project as a product manager. They don’t own the end product and they aren’t responsible for it in the same way that its creator is.

3. Relationship with team members:

Since both types of managers are responsible for getting their teams to work together, relationship-building is an important part of their duties. However, since a project manager will generally work with people over the course of a single project only, he or she needs to focus more on getting people to work well together and coordinate their efforts.

A product manager not only has to make sure that his or her team is collaborating effectively and staying on task, but they also need to build relationships with customers and potential clients. They need to understand what the public needs from their product — and they have to explain that information to others in a way that’s easy to understand.


A project manager and a product manager may have to accomplish many of the same goals when they’re working with their team. However, a company will get better results if they choose the right person for the job based on what that person needs to accomplish.

Share this post