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Product Manager vs. Product Owner

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Product managers compared to other roles (clarifying confusion) 

Now that you have a better understanding of what product managers are, their many responsibilities, and how to distinguish good product managers from bad ones, let’s take a look at some comparable roles which product managers are often confused with.

The source of the confusion for these roles often lies in the fact that product managers are a jack of many trades and have responsibilities that overlap with those of the many other stakeholders that they work with.

Product manager vs. product owner

This is one role that ties closely to product management, especially because the two work closely together and the roles may overlap in a scrum team. 

Product owner's responsibilities

A product owner (PO) is a product manager in a scrum team. 

Scrum is one of the most popular frameworks that software companies use to develop products. 

Along with a set of key rituals that a scrum team must follow, scrum has defined rules, values, and tools that when followed lead to product delivery and continuous improvement in the product delivery process. 

The main role of a product owner in a scrum team is to support their implementation team. 

Their responsibilities centre around:

  • Working with the implementation team to execute the sprint goals

  • Effectively prioritizing and maintaining the product backlog

  • Providing needed documentation and resources for team members

  • Working with their product manager to clarify requests

  • Communicating progress to their company

  • Addressing any issues that arise with their team during the development process

So what is the key difference between a product owner and a product manager? 

A product manager's responsibilities

A product manager defines the strategy for the product. 

They understand the goals of their business, perform research on customers and the market, test and analyze competitor products, influence the stakeholders in their business towards a particular strategy, analyze their market, define the product, and more.

As a product manager performs these tasks the product owners that they work with support their implementation team with bringing the defined product to life. 

Product owners keep the product manager informed of progress and also receive direction from the product manager in the case that revisions are needed based on constraints or other factors. 

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