The Essential Difference Between Managing Products and Projects

Posted by Maziar Adl
Maziar Adl
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product versus  project management It takes many teams to create great products. The product manager may take the lead on production decisions, but the product does get created without hard work from one or more project managers. While the product managers are responsible for defining and developing the products to be built, project managers oversee various tasks and resource allocations required to get the job done. Here's a closer look at both roles, their interdependence, distinct differences, and how both managers can benefit from using Product Roadmap Management (PRM) software


The Task of Managing Products

In order to successfully manage multiple products, a product manager must understand the scope of the product portfolio. They analyze each product line to ensure alignment with the company's goals, asking questions such as: does a proposed product align with the long-term goals of the company? Will a suggested feature serve the purpose it's meant to fulfill? Product managers need to determine whether or not a feature will add value to a product or not. In some instances, removing a feature may increase the performance of a product if it aligns with customer needs. 

Gocious PRM Screenshot: Financial Roadmap Highlights


Research and Analysis  

customer-feedbackDeciding what to build or which products to modify requires careful research and analysis. Product managers will draw upon multiple resources when developing their product vision. Feedback from customer success teams can help a product manager better understand which specific features are valuable to the end user and which features might be lacking. Identifying new features that will increase the value of a product can boost sales and increase market share. Product managers can promote innovation that leads to better products by consulting with design teams and their development concepts. 

Quantitative analysis that provides unbiased data is essential when making important decisions when developing new products and considering modifications to existing ones. Using PRM tools that present a high-level view of the portfolio allows a product manager to outline and monitor all product lines from the same dashboard.

Other features help product managers compare products side by side to analyze the features of existing products. Weighted scoring helps to rank your products based on feature/specification configurations. With Gocious PRM software, the competitive analysis tools allow the assessment of products to display how they stack up against the competition. 


Building the Product Roadmap

Building and maintaining the roadmap is an important part of managing a product as it guides the entire production process. A roadmap allows the product manager to: 

  1. Set out the product vision. 
  2. Communicate the vision to ensure that all stakeholders understand and are committed to the goals of the company. Goals are often defined 5, 10, or even 15 years into the future, allowing a clearer understanding of where the company is headed.
  3. Outline the product development strategy. Setting goals and detailing timelines allows product teams to work more efficiently toward product completion.

Once the product manager has defined the product, the roadmap needs to be created and linked to its parent product line for easy management. PRM software allows product managers to collaborate more effectively with product teams.

Gocious PRM Screenshot: Building the Product Roadmap

As your single source of truth, PRM software allows information to be shared easily with product teams. With changes and updates to the product plan made within the same platform, data is always current and accessible to all stakeholders. Version control and outdated information, which is a significant drawback of using email to share isolated documents, are no longer a concern. 


The Skills Required to Manage Products Effectively

A product manager needs several essential skills in order to perform their job well. Three vital areas of skill product managers require include: teamwork-2

  • Leadership Skills - Product managers must rally their teams around the company's vision. They define the products, set goals, and implement timelines.
  • Communication Skills - A good product manager must be able to communicate effectively with their teams. Engaging in two-way conversations, encouraging stakeholder feedback, and showing empathy towards teams are essential to promoting strong relationships with stakeholders.
  • Analytical Skills - Successful products are discovered by conducting thorough research and performing careful analysis. A product manager must possess strong analytical skills and demonstrate a thorough understanding of the products and the market he is operating in. 

What is Involved in Managing Projects?

Once the business goals have been set, and the new product concept has been defined, the actual production process begins. 

One of the many benefits of creating a product roadmap is that it allows all key stakeholders to visualize the steps needed to meet the product goals. Each aspect of product development is a project in itself. For example, the design team is responsible for designing the product, which is only one part of the process. Once the design is proposed, the engineering team determines whether the design is possible or requires revisions. In an ideal scenario, after input from both teams, the result is a product plan that functions and meets company goals along with customer desires. 

Gocious PRM Roadmap: Medical Screen Callouts b

Each of these projects must be managed to ensure that the process flows smoothly and the final product is completed on time. This is where the task of managing projects is introduced. Project managers have several responsibilities that differ from product management.


Overseeing How the Product Gets Made

Save Time Managing Data

Project managers are experts in their field and will work on improving production efficiency. They provide guidance for their teams and problem-solve when issues arise, intending to keep the production process rolling, all while reporting progress to the product manager. 


Manages the Timelines

With product manufacturing often relying on multiple components coming together to create the final product, meeting deadlines is crucial. A project manager must manage the process with a view to staying on task and staying on time, as production delays can be costly. 


Manages the Budget

A project manager must be meticulous when allocating resources in order to prevent budget overages. They will often consult with other teams, such as finance and sourcing, to ensure timelines and budgets reconcile. 


The Skills Required to Manage Projects Effectively

In order to manage projects effectively, a project manager must exhibit similar skills to that of a product manager. Strong leadership and communication skills are vital when leading and managing teams. Managing budgets and timelines also requires strong organizational skills.


Product Roadmap Management Software to Manage Products and Projects

Product managers and project managers work together frequently, and the right tools can make their partnership more effective. With Gocious PRM software, both managers can communicate on a regular basis, consulting one source of truth that leads to informed decisions on product issues. A well-managed product roadmap helps to keep all stakeholders aligned with the goals, ensuring that both products and projects are managed more effectively. 

Book your free, personalized demo to see how Gocious PRM Software can help accelerate your efforts to better manage the products and projects within your company. 

Topics: Product Management, Product Development

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