Difference between Product Owner and Product Manager

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Product Owner VS Product Manager

Scrum is a powerful and lightweight agile framework mainly used for implementing various iterative and incremental projects. Transitioning to scrum brings in quite a lot of new job roles that seem quite confusing when compared to traditional job roles. The product owner and product manager are the two among various job roles. Product owners and product managers tend to work towards the same goals and objectives that’s why it is quite easy to get confused about their roles and responsibilities.

What is the difference between a product owner and a product manager?
Does the role of product manager rank higher than the product owner or do we need both??

To gain a thorough understanding of these two roles let’s compare two such roles related to skills roles and responsibilities and possible career paths but before that let’s take a quick glance at the similarities between a product owner and a product manager. Defining the role of product owner versus product manager is quite a challenging task as many factors influence how their roles differ from one organization to another. 

Some of the examples are organization size, departmental structures, implementing agile and scrum practice, and organizational philosophy. Both these roles work towards a common goal so it becomes difficult to draw a line of difference between these roles.

Who is the Product Owner?

A basic responsibility of a product owner is to represent the customers to the development team. It also includes giving visibility to the product backlog or the prioritized list for further product development.

 According to Scrum Guide-

“The scrum product owner has the responsibility to maximize the value of the product on which the development team is working.”

  • A product owner is an integral part of the scrum team and is held accountable for the work that is supposed to be completed by the team. They motivate the team to accomplish the goal and product vision.
  • Product owners need to ensure a proper prioritized list of items in the product backlog so that the development team can work on further product development.
  • The product owner breaks a large and complex project into smaller chunks or series of work and lets the team decide how many tasks they can complete.
  • The product owner is held responsible for any major decision-making in the team.
  • The product owner has the authority to change the prioritized list in the product backlog.

Role of a product owner:

  • A product owner is an individual responsible for maximizing the value of the products created by the development team.
  • They transform the high-level product vision developed by the product managers into detailed user stories or requirements.

Here is a list of tasks performed by a product owner. Let us take a look at it one after the other:

  • Formulating project goals and effectively planning work activities.
  • Developing and managing the product backlog.
  • Overseeing product development at various stages.
  • Acting as a liaison between the client and the product development team.
  • Balancing the scope, time, and budget constraints
  • Ensure transparency into the upcoming work of the product development team

Responsibilities of a product owner:

  • Defining the product vision.
  • Managing and prioritizing the product backlog. 
  • Managing development stages
  • Understanding customer requirements

Essential traits of a product owner:

  • Outstanding customer service
  • Excellent story narrator
  • Problem resolver
  • Information provider

Challenges faced by Product Owner:

Unlike any other job role, even the product owner has a few obstacles to deal with. Here are a few:

  • Missing the product roadmap
  • High-level acceptance criteria 
  • Changing the product priority during the sprint process 
  • Spending time on dealing with product support rather than a product backlog

Product owners can easily overcome the above-listed challenges by concentrating more on creating a product roadmap focusing on high-level product backlog items avoiding disturbance during the sprint process and grooming quality product backlog items.

Before we dive deep into product managers’ job description and their roles and responsibilities let’s understand product management:

Product management is an organizational principle that guides the planning forecasting and marketing of a product at every phase of the product’s life cycle. Thus it’s the responsibility of the product manager to ensure that corporate strategies are aligned with the market requirements. The concept of product management set up a roadmap and strategy for product development whilst ensuring customer satisfaction and maximum utilization of time energy and finance.

Who is the Product Manager?

  • A product manager is responsible for managing products over the product life cycle from ideation to product delivery.
  • They are also responsible for delivering the products to the market that addresses market requirements and represents a viable business opportunity.
  • The product manager needs to ensure that the product supports the organization’s strategy and goals.
  • Product managers can get assistance throughout the project process from designers quality assurance engineers developers manufacturing engineers supply chain and operation professionals project managers product marketing managers and more.

Essential skills of a product manager: 

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Prioritization skills 
  • Technical expertise

Role of the product manager:

  • Product management is a function within an organization that supports and manages all the aspects of a product life cycle: planning production development and marketing by focusing on the product and its customers.
  • A product manager is responsible for setting a product vision coming up with an awesome product strategy and developing a roadmap that meets user needs and company goals.

Here are some of the other roles that a product manager does:

  • Understanding the user requirements
  • Researching market trends and identifying new opportunities
  • Providing cross-functional leadership
  • Prioritizing features and capabilities of a product
  • Keeping everyone informed and communicating project progress

Responsibilities of a product manager:

  • Define product strategy and product vision
  • Manage and prioritize customer requirements
  • Conduct market research and create a product roadmap
  • Work on cross-functional capacity
  • Develop a business case for new products and improve existing products
  • Aligning stakeholders around the product vision
  • Creating a shared vision across larger teams to empower independent decision making


The debate over where a product manager’s part ends and a product owner’s beginning — or whether or not these two functions are just two different aspects of the same position — will presumably go on ever.

Still, what’s essential is that your product association has a platoon structure that works for your process and that the Product Managers and the Product Owners in your platoon know exactly what the liabilities and pretensions are for their places.

If you want to learn more about product owners and product managers please refer to this blog.

If you want to learn about Scrum Master, please refer to this blog.

Written by 

Prince Agrahai is a Scrum Master at Knoldus. He has good skills in Agile Methodology and Scrum Framework. He is also a good team player and likes to achieve milestones together. Also, getting up early motivates him for his work. On the personal front, he loves to travel, play cricket and watch movies.