What the difference between a product manager and a product owner is.

Is there a difference?

Sometimes these roles get mixed up by people who aren’t working in this space, so I thought I’d shed some light on the two, and how they differ.

Both of these terms are widely used in delivery methodologies with varying roles and responsibilities. To ensure that not only are you delivering great outcomes, but to also ensure that you are delivering the right thing, it’s important to be able to define the difference between these roles. I’ll use our current delivery processes at Pixel Fusion as the reference to walk you through this definition. So, let’s get started:

In Scrum, the Product Owner is the person who is responsible for:

  1. Defining the product backlog and creating actionable user stories for the development team to deliver.

  2. Grooming and prioritising the work in the backlog.

  3. Accepting the completed user stories to make sure that the work meets the acceptance criteria agreed.

They work closely with the delivery team to ensure that the user stories created and completed will meet the requirement. However, if their focus is purely writing user stories based on provided requirements, then they can easily become disconnected from the users and deliver ineffective solutions that do not really solve their problems.

Product Management is usually more focused on validation work with product discovery for something that has not been defined yet. This involves direct interaction with users and will include prototyping, testing, and validating that what we think we want to build, will actually solve the problem for the user.

In the past, the role of Product Owner has been consumed by backlog management. In our current process, the Product Owner is also the Product Manager. Product Owner is the role you play within the Scrum team; Product Manager is the job.

If you’re looking to partner with someone in order to help you understand and deliver the solution that is right for your users, you should ensure that there’s awareness of these subtle differences between the roles. It may be that they’ve more than one person fulfilling these roles, but it is important that at least there is an understanding of the fact that the connection between the problem, the discovery of the solution, and the delivery of the solution is imperative in achieving the best outcome for you and your users.

And in a nutshell, that’s the main difference between a Product Manager and a Product Owner. What do you think – do you have more to add to this conversation? Flick me an email (hello@pixelfusion.co.nz) or comment on the post on LinkedIn and let’s flesh this definition out a bit more together.

Subscribe to our blog

Get our latest blog posts delivered to your inbox