Product Manager vs Project Manager: What’s the Difference?

December 5, 2022

Product and Project Managers are two essential roles in a tech company. However, their duties are often confused with each other. Though there exist several similarities, there are still differences that exist between the two roles. 


A product manager has the responsibility for a product’s success from start to finish while a project manager sees the completion of a project.

Are you curious about the difference between the product and the project manager? Then, this article is for you. Keep reading!!!

What is a Product?

A product is any physical or digital item or service that meets the needs of a group of users. A product goes through the process of being developed and introduced in the market, gaining acceptance into the market, and retiring when no longer needed.

Example of products (Source)

What is a Project?

A project is a series of tasks set to create a product or service. A notable thing about a project is that it has a start and end date. There’s the initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure. 

From the above, you can see that a project is temporary. While a product is not temporary and is also spontaneous. It keeps evolving to suit the audience’s needs before termination. Are you also aware that there could be several projects contained in a product?

For example, say for a certain Product – a laundry service application. The first project could involve marketing and advertising. The next project could involve profit maximization, and another could be rebranding. 

Who is a Product Manager?

A product manager serves as a product director. These individuals oversee the what and why of a product, and they also remain till the product has entered the market. 

The product manager starts with the identification of the audience’s needs. This identification is done through proper market research. Then, these needs are translated into a design. The product manager hence leads a team to see the manifestation of the intended design. 

The project manager comes into play when the product manager has broken down the plans into actionable tasks, goals, teams, and deadlines. 

Marty Cagan defines a product manager as one with the duty to “discover a product that is valuable, usable, and feasible.” Check out the top 5 skills of a product manager here

A product manager’s responsibility (source)

The product manager most times collaborates with the sales, marketing, and customer team to ensure and check the profit and loss of the product. 

Who is a Project Manager?

A project manager’s role is more on the execution side. The project manager is tasked with coordination, collaboration, and management of the team as well as its resources. 

Project Management (source)

The project manager takes over the product vision from the product manager. This project manager works with a team to hit and meet the goals and deadlines. It is safe to say that the project manager has the core responsibility of bringing a project to completion within the agreed budget, timeline, and quality.

Job Description of a Product and Project Manager

The duties of a product manager include the following:

  • Market research into what the consumers need. These consumer needs are related to the product team.
  • Identify and define the necessary key metrics for a product’s success.
  • Setting a product’s vision and developing a strategic plan.
  • Communication with the stakeholders.
  • Works with other teams such as the design, and sales teams to pursue a product strategy.
  • Works on the improvement of products through market research and analysis
  • Monitors the performance of a product in the market.
A product manager pros and cons (source)

A project manager has the following functions:

  • Determines and works with key goals like deadlines, and budgets.
  • Keeps track of the team, tasks, and schedule using project management software such as Asana, Hive, and Basecamp
  • Communication with the stakeholders
  • Allocation and scheduling of resources.

Can a Product Manager and a Project Manager Work Together?

An organization needs a product and project manager. And yes, the two can work together. Let’s see the example below.

Imagine a start-up that is intended to run errands like laundry and grocery shopping for students in a school environment. This start-up decides they need an app to make the job easy. The app will make it easy for the students to book what errand they want to be accomplished. 

The product manager here determines the app’s features and goals. The product manager may even conduct market research to ensure that there is an available audience for the app and conduct an analysis of its reception to the audience. Challenges are also monitored as they arise.

Next is the project manager who turns the goals of the product manager into a reality. The project manager leads a team that accomplishes the goal and market research of his colleague. The project manager sets up a team dedicated to the development of the app. These teams will work within a specified deadline and budget. 

Can You Be Both a Product and Project Manager? 

Yes, it is possible to take up the two roles. However, it is not ideal because of its effect of  which includes:

  • Decreased Focus

Juggling the two roles may lead to decreased focus. The product manager’s roles have more to do with outdoor roles; collecting information, monitoring competitors, and market research. The project needs constant monitoring which you may find difficult because of the role of a product manager.


From the explanations above, you can easily infer that the two roles bleed into each other. In the end game, each role is geared towards the delivery of a successful product. 

Now that you know the difference between a product and project manager, what are your thoughts about them? If you were to go for either role, which would you go for? Let me know in the comments!!!

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