Product Manager or Product Owner

For people looking to move into product management, the product owner role is often a stepping stone. In fact, many advisors do consider the product owner role as a subset of the product manager's role. That is a misguided view of the roles, especially given how the software industry is transforming. To be clear, both are different roles which require different skills and have different objectives, stakeholders and success metrics.

To summarize, the Product Owner works in an agile team, with a specific set of tasks and objectives.
The Product Manager is a business role, that has a wide range of responsibilities and objectives, depending on the 
  • Organization (centralized vs. product driven pricing, planning and budgeting)
  • Industry (B2B, B2C, e-commerce, networking etc.)
  • Software development processes (agile, waterfall, hybrid)
  • Seniority in the organization
  • and whether there are also product owners or an architect team in the organization
 Both roles have some overlap as well, however that is often because the company is undergoing a transformation and the roles have shared responsibilities.

Below is a slide that shows the possible growth path in this role.

I have uploaded a brief presentation on SlideShare that talks about the product manager and product owner roles. This will be useful for people looking to explore either role as a career opportunity. 

As the scope of the presentation is very large, it has been split into two parts. The first part is currently available on Slideshare. Feel free to view that and direct any questions at me.

Product Management Skills Benchmark Report

The 280 Group is a Silicon Valley based training, research and consulting organization focusing on product management training and consulting for a long time.Their training and consulting staff are available for online, virtual or in-person training sessions. Best of all, their product management framework and process can be adapted by any organization, using Agile, Waterfall or a Hybrid methodology.

In late 2018, they did a survey of practicing product managers across the globe. The objective was to understand the definition of the role in different regions and industries, the key skills and responsibilities of the PM, and the skill gaps that product managers mentioned in the survey. For this survey, they identified 15 key skills (skill set) that a PM will use over the course of their career. They also include a skills assessment survey, which you can use to benchmark yourself against other respondents.
With more than 1,500 responses, there are a ton of insights from their Skills Benchmark Report. If you want a greater understanding of this role, or want to benchmark yourself against other product managers then you can download this report for free.

Few Points

  • Customer and domain knowledge was the strongest skill among PMs
  • Competitive Analysis, End of Life & Pricing were among the weakest

If you want to move into product management, or want to grow further, then this is a great resource to understand what is actually needed in the role. I hope you get as much value from this report as I did.