Due to its origin, the Program Manager role is nearly always technical and relates to programming. So, if you are interviewing for one of these roles and don’t understand the job description, ask. While program managers oversee an interconnected group of projects, project managers manage one individual project. It can mean at least three different roles- first is the product manager, second is the project manager, and the third one is a program manager. If you are looking to be a great product manager or owner, create brilliant strategy, and build visual product roadmaps — start a free trial of Aha! While they are still a central point of contact, their interactions with other roles (like Product Planners) are less frequent than with Engineers. We own the success of a product throughout its whole lifecycle. We spend a lot of time researching and writing our articles and strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content. And if you are interviewing for one of these roles, it’s easy to think you know what the job is about — only to be wrong. Their work in this context was so successful that when the software market expanded in the 80s, tech firms recruited brand managers to oversee products. Every business needs all three i.e. Both product and program managers must master their unique KAs and manage the activities and deliverables associated with them in order to successfully complete their products or programs. She attended Harvard Business School and was a Product Manager at Kickstarter and Program Manager at Microsoft. We are currently ranked as the 15th best startup website in the world and are paving our way to the top. The Product vs. Project vs. The Program Manager’s success is evaluated based on if reliable and usable software is delivered for the release. Movie and TV Geek by nature. It first came into use when Jabe Blumenthal, an Excel team member in the early days of Microsoft, took it on. So while the role is less tactical or administrative than that of a Project Manager, the stakes are higher as the success of the program as a whole lies on the shoulders of the Program Manager. They knew that brand managers’ deep sense of product knowledge and ownership could carry over from consumer to technology — and it did. With program manager versus project manager, the key difference is … Product: A product is anything that satisfies an existing demand in the market. Instead, they are a core piece of the Engineering team. Brand Managers were responsible for the success of a given product line. Ending thoughts on the product manager vs project manager debate The two managers will look at their roles from a different angle. The most complete project management glossary for professional project managers. The answer to this question should be more about what you are looking for from the role. Product or company names, logos, and trademarks referred to on this site belong to their respective owners. The Difference Between Program Manager, Project Manager, and Product Manager. The Project Manager has to focus more on the operational elements of the project he is handling. Project: A project is a temporary task or a group of tasks that are performed to create a unique product or service. He decided to use the Program Manager title to fill that gap. In Agile development processes, the Project Manager is often called the Scrum Master. Program Managers are likely to get a little closer to how things are implemented. She writes on her personal blog and plays pinball in her spare time. The role of a Program Manager is slightly different in technology companies. A project manager is also referred to as a program manager in many organisations. This is a guest post by Ellen Chisa. Do you seek more creativity and outside interaction, or are you focused and logical? Still, experience — my own and that of my colleagues — has taught me that some distinctions are fairly universal. This involves figuring out what to build based on customer needs and making sure it gets shipped. It is crucial to clarify what each role means at each specific organization — before you accept one of them. The Project Management Institute offers classes and certifications for Project Managers, including the PMP. It can be a single project or a group of projects. Use the info. Based on the differences between а program, а project, and a product, the differences between program managers, project managers, and product managers become more clear. When you see something that needs doing, such as a software bug fix or creating a piece of content, the task is completed, and then it’s over. Out and out foodie. above as your baseline, and ask how it applies (or not) to the job at hand. Hey Sourobh, nice article. However, our research is meant to aid your own, and we are not acting as licensed professionals. Pop-culture junkie. Understanding Project and Program: A project is a singular effect that is focused on a concept or product while a program consists of several projects that fall under the same department. Despite there being literally only a smattering of letters difference between product vs project manager, there is, in fact, a massive gap in roles and responsibilities between these two jobs. Our philosophy is to research, curate, and provide the best startup feeds and resources to help you succeed in your venture. I currently work as Director of Product at Lola Travel. Since the Program Manager typically lives in Engineering, they are also often insulated from the financial and services sides of the company. Product Manager Vs Project Manager Vs Program Manager. These roles are not universal. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. When choosing between a career as a product manager or project manager, one of the topics that comes up is product manager vs project manager salary. I considered doing so myself in the past and know a few people who actually have.…, Trepidation. The right question to ask is for product manager vs project manager. Project ManagerProject Managers are responsible for execution. Project managers are more tactical, focusing on the execution side of the project’s life cycle. Ellen Chisa is Director of Product Management and Design at Lola Travel. But that also depends a lot on the size of the business. Understanding the distinctions between these roles can help you decide what you want to be. Here is how I break the three roles down: Product ManagerThe Product Manager title comes from another historical idea – the Consumer Product Goods (CPG) role of “Brand Manager”. Since people are trained in a specific discipline before getting into Product Management, they are often stronger in one area but know enough of the others (Engineering, Marketing, etc.) Project Managers have to manage all the risks in the project and mitigate them. There are a couple of other roles like Project Manager or Program Manager … Ultimately, Product Managers pitch in wherever is needed to increase the likelihood of success. Product, Project and Program Manager for its long-term business. Product Vs Program Vs Project Manager; Product Vs Program Vs Project Manager. Project Management vs Program Management. Product Manager vs Project Manager - what's the difference? Both project management and product management disciplines involve working directly with clients and collaborating with a team to … There can be multiple projects within the life-cycle of a product. Thus, the project manager vs program manager dynamic is in place. He has to coordinate time, budget and resources effectively to complete the project on time. Project Management consists of risk management, resource management and scope management. For the Product Manager to be successful, he needs to work with different folks and teams across the organization efficiently. Product vs. Project Program Managers focus on How of a product. It may be a cliche,…, Have you ever quit a job because you did not get the promotion or title change that you wanted? I enjoyed this article but I will say it was upsetting that in every instant they used “he” instead of “them” or “they”. Product Manager vs Project Manager vs Program Manager: Tech Roles Explained As a Google PM, I have a good view of the differences between the tech roles of Product Manager, Program Manager and Project Manager. Complementary roles indeed, but distinct at the same time. A Project Manager is responsible for a project and creates the project plan, allocates assignments, keeps track of the progress and challenges faced and reports them to the concerned stakeholders. While it might seem to be a trivial, semantic issue it often leads to confusion about the two roles. It’s a good distinction, but more often I’ve seen the role of program manager be describer as a product owner. The Difference Between a Program Manager and a Project Manager A program manager manages multiple projects, and sometimes multiple programs while a project manager manages the teams responsible for fulfilling the project and achieving its deliverables. Product managers are strategic and focused on the product and its life cycle. Generally, a program consists of many interrelated projects and hence Project Managers report to Program Managers. In spite of being very different roles, it is astonishing how people everywhere seem to confuse between a Product Manager, Project Manager and Program Manager. I have held the Program Manager title at Microsoft as well as the Product Manager title at Kickstarter. The key differences in these roles can be best understood in terms of the contributions they make at various stages of the project and the best way to understand that is in terms of questions. In describing the product manager’s role, our friends at Mind the Product cite Marty Cagan’s book Inspired, which explains succinctly that the job of a product manager Every business needs all three i.e. But so do flower and flour or genes and jeans. The first challenge in differentiating the role of Project Manager or a Product Manager is that (as well as having the same initials) they sound a lot alike. The “PM” is a slightly confusing abbreviation. Their job is to execute the strategy set by the product manager or leadership team. We recommend that you use your own judgement and consult with your own consultant, lawyer, accountant, or other licensed professional for relevant business decisions. What are you waiting for? Generally speaking, a program manager has broader responsibilities than the project manager. You are probably familiar with the “elevator pitch.” You know, the one-minute speech every seasoned salesperson has memorized to deliver at a moment’s notice. Program ManagerProgram Manager is the most common title in Seattle. Companies with this approach tend to view a program manager as a more technically-focused counterpart of the product manager, who is responsible for guiding the creation of the actual code that will form the solution. Sometimes those feelings are…, “Let’s get it done ASAP.” How many times have you heard this from your boss? Projects are, essentially, just basic solutions to basic issues; they fill in the gaps that need to be filled. The site may also contain links to affiliate websites, and we receive an affiliate commission for any purchases made by you on the affiliate website using such links. In startups, Product Managers are expected to handle Project Management as well sometimes. He has to also ensure that the marketing efforts are in sync with the company’s vision and goals. The key difference between the product manager vs Project Manager is that the Product Manager deals with “what”, while the Project Manager is in charge of the “how” The Product Manager should be in charge of managing the feature requests, creating requirements, managing backlogs and other important responsibilities with “what” the organization is building. So when somebody says “program manager vs project manager”, tell them that those two terms are synonyms. The toughest part is to manage the scope of the project. Introverted Marketer. Very wrong. Project managers ensure the … The product manager sets the vision for the product that needs to be built, gathers requirements, and prioritizes them, while the project manager acts upon this vision and makes sure that it is executed on time and on budget. These roles all have different histories and slightly different responsibilities. Here, the distinction is made between product manager vs. program manager, rather than project manager vs. program manager. Such companies view this role as a Technical Product Manager and thus expect familiarity with the underlying technologies used. Engineer by education. It can refer to (at least) three distinct roles: the Product Manager, the Project Manager, and the Program Manager. Let’s find out what the differences between them are. Product Manager vs Project Manager: A Product Manager is ultimately responsible for making sure that her product is as successful as possible both short-term tactically and long-term strategically. But that also depends a lot on the size of the business. It has a life-cycle – it is ideated, developed, introduced, marketed and even retired. The titles mean different things at different organizations. Project Management is all about time, cost and quality and the constant trade-offs that have to be decided to keep the project going. Feedough is the one-stop resource for everything related to startups. Project management guide on Checkykey.com. The Project Manager’s success can be evaluated based on how close to on time and on/under budget the project was finished. Product Managers focus on What and Why of a product. The Product Manager has to ensure that his product delivers more value than the competition and is able to build a sustainable competitive advantage. The result is that engineers might make more decisions about specific features, like error cases. This allows the team to have an expert in each area and a close relationship with adjacent teams. Tell us what you think of this article on Product Manager vs Program Manager vs Project Manager in the comments section. In many small companies, there is usually no dedicated Project Manager. made this analogy recently during a customer call. They own the product strategy, its ideation, its features, its releases and even its profit-and-loss. These are familiar roles to people yet few seem to know what sets them apart from each other, even in the industry. I have also seen friends in all three roles at different organizations get lost as they tried to discern what they should be doing. Whereas a product manager generally focuses straight ahead on all of the elements needed to strategically drive her products forward, a program manager takes more of … Product Managers have to evaluate the customer needs and develop a solution that addresses these needs, with the help of various teams in the organization. Let us first understand the terms that these roles have to manage. For those manageable tasks, they help coordinate work estimates (via Fibonacci, T-shirt sizing, planning poker, or another estimation process). Their focus is on the strategy and implementation of the entire program and thus the responsibilities go far beyond the completion of individual projects, so as to focus on the long-term implications of the program. The Program Manager vs. the Project Manager “Program is to a project as product line is to a product.” One of our Customer Success teammates at Aha! She also teaches Product Management for Olin College and General Assembly. This role is most valuable in large companies, or with projects that include a lot of dependencies. A program will rely more on a rolling plan, as multi-year programs will need to adjust their plans as the business changes. Product Managers are responsible for sitting at the intersection of Design, Technology, and Business. They define the various projects that need to be completed to reach the final goal. Since the scope of this role is more broad, detail-level product specifications are sacrificed sometimes. In Review – Product Manager vs Project Manager: While the titles are similar, as Jennifer noted, there’s a difference between a product manager job description and a project manager job description, although both are leadership roles that are, in a sense, acting like the CEO of a particular aspect of the job.
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