Product Management is not Project Management

These two terms are often used interchangeably and yet, other than having the word “management” and sort of sounding the same, they are vastly different things.

In many organizations senior management will point to a project manager and say “He’s our product manager.” This isn’t the case. A Project Manager’s focus is operational. He helps coordinate resources to get a task moved through to completion. His single minded focus is to deliver a project on time.

A product manager on the other hand works with internal and external stakeholders to ensure that the thing being built is the right thing for the market.

A product manager works with executive team to ensure that the things that are built align with the vision of the company.

They should understand the market, know their competition and anticipate changes in the market so that the company remains relevant.

They work with developers to ensure that the product features they are working on align with what customers are asking for. They should also balance the backlog of feature requests weighing the opportunity cost of one feature over another so that the right thing is built.

They work with Marketing and communications to help them understand the product and give them the material they need to create the product collateral and marketing plan.

Product Managers should brought on board early in the life of any organization that wants to grown beyond the founder’s vision of a single product.

Please share your thoughts.

Joe Cotellese
Product Manager
Joe Cotellese
Doylestown, PA

My first professional job involved playing video games for 9 hours a day. After experiencing early signs of brain rot, I decided to teach myself how to write software.

My entire career is characterized by this “why not?” attitude.

I'm currently applying my experience at product development to help early to mid-stage companies develop a “product first” mindset.

You can also find him at the links below.

Affiliate Disclosure

On blog posts where I discuss products I may include affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and buy something then I get a teeny-tiny commission. As of this writing I think I make enough to buy a cup of coffee once every couple of months. 

I don't get any paid compensation directly to write product reviews. I think that's pretty scammy.