Differentiating the role of a product manager from that of a project manager can be challenging. They are both managerial jobs and sound similar. Nevertheless, there is a clear distinction between the two. To comprehend the differences, it is important to start by defining them.


Meaning of product and project

In the simplest term, a product is anything that is offered to the market in order to satisfy a need or want. A product is conceived, manufactured, injected to and managed in the market, and after the demand for the product diminishes, it is taken out of the market. On the other hand, a project is a temporary and one-time activity carried out for the sole purpose of creating a unique product, service, or result.

Difference in Roles of product and project managers

Most often, Product managers are addressed as the CEOs of their products. They perform the role of setting the strategy, prioritizing the release of products, talking to customers, and clearly defining the expected features of the product at the start of production, as well as the features after production. The efforts of a product manager is never ending as they manage the product for its entire lifetime. In nutshell, the product manager’s goal is to deliver a product that customers love.

As for project managers, they oversee a project from start to end, it can be a single or multiple project(s). The job of the project manager is to ensure that the strategies set by the product manager or leadership team is carried out successfully. The goal of a project manager is to work with the members of his team, a mix of staffs with diverse set of skills, and to complete the project based on predetermined standards. Dedicating task to each member of the team in order to achieve specific goals is the duty of the project manager.

Responsibility of the managers

In addition to setting strategies, the product manager must be able to provide satisfactory answer to a few questions like: what problem does the product solve? What exactly to build and the best approach to achieve the best results? What are the benefits of the product to the company and consumers? Once a goal is set, it is the responsibility of the product manager to create initiatives to reach those goals.  This approach helps determine which features should be built to achieve those goals.

However, the project manager is mostly less concerned about the specific goals of the product. Instead, they are more fixated on the success of the project itself. A project manager takes the initiatives and features created by the product manager and uses it to develop a timeline based on careful considerations of any challenges as regards resources, risks, or scope that might surface during the course of the project. For project managers, questions to answer include: what the resources needed for the project are? When the project will be completed? and, who is best for each task?

In summary, the product manager owns strategy, releases, ideation, features and getting the product to the market while the project manager owns budget, delivery, resources, capacity, team organization, problem resolution, status updates and important decision on how to proceed with the project.


Having both managers will increase the chances of success of a business. It isn’t about one or the other. It is just like a mother giving birth to a child, the project been the mother and product, the baby. The roles performed by both the product manager and the project manager are essential for the long term business success.


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