Product vs. Project Management

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What’s the Difference?

Timage for product manager vs. project managerhere seems to be a long-running debate on whether product managers are actually just project managers in disguise and vice versa.  And like any good debate, you will find someone who argues vehemently for, or against, the point in question.  You are just as likely to find a little fiction mixed in with the facts.  In this paper, we’ll help you sort it all out.

Both product managers and project managers are vital to the success of a firm.  Both positions are required to fulfill the launch of a new product.  Both the product manager and project manager can benefit from continuous on-the-job learning, and training programs such as the New Product Development Professional (NPDP) program.

Yet, product managers need to focus on a long-term, ever changing business strategy, while project managers work on jobs with distinct starting and ending points.  Product managers study market trends and segments, while a project manager measures completion targets for a single customer.  Product managers utilize ideation techniques to widen the scope of possibilities, while project managers narrow a problem to find the one best solution.  Finally, product managers engage diverse cross-functional teams, while project managers solicit expert opinions from design and engineering specialists. 

Let’s take a look at each of these dichotomies in turn.

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