Where do the Product and Project Management roles meet?



Content 

⦁    Intro

⦁    Where is the matching point of Product and Project management professions?

⦁    The power of handling Software formation

⦁    Expectation vs. Reality

⦁    Conclusion

⦁    Takeaways


With awareness of what has changed over past years with technology (and people), we can highlight this holy sentence: the only constancy in the world is a change. Many new professions have been created. With that, many new technical skills were formed.

A venn diagram of product manager responsibilities and the overlap of UX, technology, and business (Those new skills are mainly related to technology )

But some professions gain a new name, they changed from outside, with little modification inside.

There are many articles written on this subject, and this text is not aiming to do something revolutionary, but it can inform and boost searching for this issue.

Let this be our contribution.

Where is the matching point of Product and Project management professions?


Before diving into differentiating these two professions, let’s keep in mind that Project and Product management are two disciplines that overlap.

However, let’s not forget their starting position, they’re both created to deliver working software.

While both professions require approximately the same set of skills (technical and soft skills) some are, particularly for each profession. It is the same thing for software tools that are used by both professions.

And there is just the beginning of a thin line between Product and Project.

Where is the center of overlapping between these two professions?

Software Lifecycle (SDLC as systems development life cycle) is our reference point and let’s start from there:

SDLC is composed of the following components: planning, creating, testing, and deploying an information system. Those clearly defined and distinct work phases are developed by the plan based on customer requirements, designed according to customer expectations, and finally delivered as a working increment.

To manage this level of complexity a variety of methodologies have been created, and many SDLC has been created either. Each phase needs to be supervised.

A venn diagram of product manager responsibilities and the overlap of UX, technology, and business Can we see the Software?

Although there is a precisely determinative role of developers, there are positions that govern other departments and that role is the Software manager role.

Looking from a side of the software lifecycle this is a project and in charge of it is the Project manager. Simply put, that is a set of tasks completed to achieve an outcome.

On the other side of an SDLC, the person who is in charge of any service or item that an organization creates to serve customer needs is a Product Manager.

The power of handling Software formation .


A venn diagram of product manager responsibilities and the overlap of UX, technology, and business Handling the Project

It is not going to be redundant information if we mention that knowledge implies “theoretical” and refers to information learned from books, schools, colleges. And skills imply something “practical” and refer to the application of theoretical information in practice and the workplace.

As we go through the responsibilities of Project and Product Manager’s positions, we may notice what knowledge is and what skills are.

And, after all, does it matter?

The Project manager has to follow specific tasks:

  • Determine key goalposts like project scope, timeline, and budget estimates. This implies that PM is informed about the project, which leads us to the second task and that is

  • Extensive collaboration and communication with leadership and stakeholders. And while they are subject to change of opinion, PM has to be always prepared to

  • Create and maintain processes for changes in the project. Thereby using proper tools are necessities, so

  • The ability to use proper Project management tools for keeping track of tasks and schedules is a must. With this skill, it is easy to

  • Make sure teams are collaborating well, on the schedule, and staying motivated.

For Motivation is important to know how to approach people and raise morale when it is necessary.

That would be a soft skill or ability that can be learned, but the majority of people (who are good at this particular job) have a sense of this.

Talking about knowledge or skills, the manager who is in charge of the project needs to possess a mix of the following:

  • Knowledge of project management approaches like Scrum, Agile, and Waterfall. Learning about Agile project management for managing software development is one rewarding feeling with fast transformation into knowledge, and then after starting using in real-world problem: top skill.

  • Risk management is a highly desired skill. If the person in charge can identify, assess and control threats, your project won't be vulnerable. So, the skills of a business analyst are welcome.

  • Basic budgeting is also a required skill, which means PM know some financial allocation

  • The ability to adapt to new project management tools is number one, and some of them are Asana, Jira, and many more that are conceiving right now as we communicate.

A venn diagram of product manager responsibilities and the overlap of UX, technology, and business (Do we need luck, strategy, brain...? )


The next part of this riddle is what the Product Manager does and what specific tasks should follow:

  • The Product Manager should define key metrics for product success, and how will get to this is his or hers

  • Understanding a consumer's need and help with it will be his/her trust in the product team. It shows that the Product Manager works with cross-functional teams, so there needs to be

  • Understanding engineering, design, and marketing role, so that they can develop and pursue product strategy.

  • With an eye on a strategy, the Product Manager must find ways to improve or grow a product through market analysis and other research.

  • With all those analytics, the Product Manager will be able to supervise and nurture Product performance.

  • And not forget to observe and monitor competitions.

How will the Product Manager fulfil these obligations if it doesn’t possess a variety of knowledge, skills, and readiness to learn:

  • Knowledge of the basic economy will be helpful because the Product Manager needs to deal with data, price modeling, and analysis.

  • Where there is a business there is marketing, therefore, skills for market assessment are preferable.

  • Basic user experience (UX) knowledge is also welcome.

Expectation vs. Reality

What follows from the above is that even within the same industries it is common to confuse Product and Project managers. 

But their responsibilities are very different. 

We might say that the Product manager works with a diversity of people who are on the project. The role is external and internal, managers vertical and horizontal, connect technical, business, and operational domains. 

The Project manager has to collaborate with clients and stakeholders and is turned toward getting “things” done with an initiative that doesn’t begin until tasks are clearly defined. 

This is all very transparent and well-defined at larger organizations.

In smaller organizations, Product managers can take on high-level work like managing a team and might do more hands-on work, such as market research, or even some project management.  So, in many more situations, it is requested from the Product Manager to act as Project Manager meaning to use some of the Project manager's duties and/or responsibilities. And vice versa.  


A venn diagram of product manager responsibilities and the overlap of UX, technology, and business (Optimizing our approaches )

Thus, we may say that the Project Manager leads many smaller projects to make those goals a reality, such as creating or maintaining a product, and the Product Manager sets the vision, goals, and business trajectory of a product.

Conclusion

For the conclusion (if there is any) of this article let us use some terms. 

This will be contract closure or project closure. That would be a phase regardless of what position you are standing in. This is a vital phase of the project  and for the project team to learn from experiences and apply them to future projects. 

Usually, a Post Implementation Review consists of looking at things that went well and analyzing things that went badly on the project to come up with lessons learned. 

In this phase there is a slight difference between these two acronyms and their job positions that, unlike Project management, Product management usually doesn't have a clear beginning and end.

It might be very useful to distinguish these two positions for the sake of knowing that there is maybe one strong differential that could be put this way:  The project manager is much of a doer, but the product Manager is a strategic thinker.


Takeaways

  • Both professions were created to deliver working software.
  • What do we have to know about Software? The Lifecycle of software is composed of the following components: planning, creating, testing, and deploying an information system.
  • Managing software development is a process, and to be in charge of these processes or one step in the process requires certain skills and/or knowledge.
  • As we go through the responsibilities of Project/Product Manager’s positions, we may notice what knowledge is and what skills are. And, after all, does it matter?
  • The Project Manager leads many smaller projects to make those goals a reality, such as creating or maintaining a product, and the Product Manager sets the vision, goals, and business trajectory of a product.