What is The Difference Between Product Manager and Project Manager?

Jourdan Chohan

20 Apr, 2017


3 min read

manager and project manager

In many cases, software and system development projects tend to fail.

This might seem like an unpleasant statement, but without a doubt, it’s a valid one.

There are techniques that can be implemented to safeguard you against failures and put yourself in a direction for success. As an example, you should start off by initially spending time verifying your concept, translate your concept into a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) through an agile process, and secure the services of a development firm that has built many successful products prior to yours.

Although these techniques can safeguard against failure, most projects can still fail, but there are tons of reasons why this can happen.

But for many, failure seems to be blamed squarely on project manager.

After all, if any project is overdue or off budget, these counterproductive measures are often considered the responsibilities of the project manager and why not, it’s easy to blame them.

In actuality this outlook is shortsighted and overlooks an important cause of many project failures – poor product management.

Difference between product Manager and project Manager

A project manager holds an analytical role. It is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure the project progresses fluently, deliveries are on time, and deadlines and milestones met. The project manager controls and organizes all the moving segments — developers, graphic artists, clientele and everyone involved — keeping each individual on track to perform as one integrated unit.

Conversely, a product manager holds a strategic role. It is the responsibility of the product manager to identify the product need and the audience it’s intended for. It is then up to the project manager — and team — to then follow this directive. Hence product managers play a vital role in the success or failures of a project since all other team members look toward them for guidance and direction on the overall product vision. If this vision is incomplete, then the project will most certainly suffer.

In product management, you’re required to make difficult choices while scoping out the project and to improvise when necessary. You have to ensure that the user experience really does consider who the end user really is. You need to know the right time to move a product into testing and when to delay a release due to a specific function or feature working sub-optimally. A product manager needs to understand the long-term roll out plans and business objectives of the organization and client, then carefully align these plans with an initial product launch.

You have to understand how best to navigate development roadblocks and hurdles and how best to incorporate feedback and change directions as necessary. And much, much more.

That being said, I’d like to highlight two major factors about a role in product management:

It’s a role that’s undervalued; a lot lesser projects have dedicated product managers than project managers and many assume that they don’t really need expertise in that area.

Whether intended or not, behind every successful project are good product management skills helping to navigate the project to success.

If you’re unable to perform the task effectively or lack the ability and experience, then induct a product manager within your team or hire one externally and provide them with the support and resources to be able to make difficult decisions that can ultimately make or break the success of your project.

At Cubix, we not only associate a product manager along with a project manager for every project, but our clientele work with product managers from the very beginning. Thus, allowing every project to be conceptualized with a strategist before the project kicks off, and then undergoing numerous discovery workshops before jumping into development, to ensure the product has everything it needs for an initial roll out.

Here’s a quick overview of differences between a product manager and project manager into one helpful infographic

project Manager


Jourdan Chohan

Jourdan Chohan is the Vice President of Product Strategy and Client Engagement at Cubix. He oversees various teams at Cubix with his focus on improving processes to enhance the client on-boarding and engagement process. He also helps to formulate strategies to help with new partnerships, affiliations, business development, and product development. Part of his role also focuses on implementing new tools, technologies, strategies, and processes to constantly optimize the development side of things to ensure a successful launch for all internal and consumer products.

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