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Product Management vs. Project Management

May 21, 2012
Written by Bloomfire Admin

Sometimes the job descriptions of product management and project management can blend together. The problem is without a true understanding of the definitions, it can be difficult to grasp the concepts as distinct from one another. Certainly, on the one hand management is management. Whether you are managing products or a project, the general concept could be seen as the same.

Of course, where this becomes important is in understanding your role managing people in relation to these fields. First, take a moment to understand the two different job roles.

Product management

– Generally, product management is the field of overseeing the aspects of what makes up a life cycle of a product. This can begin from the very first step to the last, which would mean concept and design to marketing and selling. For that reason, project management would probably be part of the job duties of someone who is handling product management, but the opposite may not be true.

Project management

– This is overseeing a project, which could be a variety of things from designing a product to building it to planning the marketing or sales details. Although as a project manager you may be adding your own ideas, you may also simply be monitoring and helping motivate the individual or team responsible for making the project happen.

What’s the Big Difference?

The bottom line is that a good manager of either kind will know and understand the differences that make up the job title. One of the biggest differences is that a product manager often has the long term goal of improving the manner in which a product’s life cycle carries out. This could mean better design, more efficient production, better marketing or improved sales of the product. Regardless, it means the goal is pretty much always going to involve that product.

A project manager, on the other hand, has smaller individual goals. This doesn’t mean the goals are any less important. It just means instead of your entire career focusing on the one goal of bettering the life cycle of one product, you have shorter goals but more of them. You may even be the product manager overseeing the type of projects previously mentioned such as designing the product, improving productivity, launching a marketing campaign or coming up with an unbeatable sales pitch. Either way, once the project is complete, the goal has been met and the next goal becomes the focus.

The other thing to keep in mind is that in the position of one of these roles you may be working with someone in the other role. To keep things running smoothly and successfully, it is as important to establish a good working relationship with this other person as it is your own staff.

Working together and establishing a good line of communication can only benefit both project manager and production manager. Of course, it is also a crucial part of your job to keep your own team informed and motivated to successfully meet goals.

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