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The Ultimate Guide to Product Management vs Product Ownership

Mudassir Mustafa
Mudassir Mustafa
4 min read
The Ultimate Guide to Product Management vs Product Ownership

Table of Contents

I believe most of the companies don't understand the difference between the two terms. I had a chat with more than a dozen people and everyone seems to have a very raw and weird understanding of the product manager and product owner. I thought if I were to start writing again, yes I used to write a lot about football years ago, this has to be the first topic that I am going to cover.

Well, here are the few answers/statements I have received from people after our discussion:


1. Oh, it's the same thing. Po-ta-to Po-ta-to same, you know.
2. I think the owner of the company is the Product Owner and there can be multiples, the person who manages the team is the Product Manager and it has to be one.
3. This last one is the funniest. The entire management (Marketing, Finance, Operations, etc.) they are all the product owners and managers. They can all act as 1 together and have the product build.

If you are a PO or a PM, these should crack you open.

Let’s dive into each one of them and see the positives, eh? First and foremost, PO and PM are not the same things. The product owner is a role usually followed in a scrum framework whereas Product Manager is a job. Now you might consider the job and role as the same thing again, but let me clarify that. Your scrum master could be a separate individual who is not taking a part in product development. He could also be a business analyst. But, a PO needs to be a separate person it's not a shared role.

The next thing for our owners, the company owners, you need to understand that you have hired people to run products and business for you. Trust them and trust your hiring process. Just because it says ‘Owner’ doesn't mean you are involved. It's not your job to create Epics, features, or PBIs. And most importantly, the PO is a person and not a group of people — an individual.

Look, all of you are not a product manager, or managers — plural. A PM needs to find a solution to the problems, not to create more problems.

In hindsight to all this, the main differences between the product managers and product owners are listed below:

  • The PM works with the external stakeholders where a PO works with internal stakeholders.
  • The PM defines the vision of the product and the PO helps in executing that vision
  • The PM defines the success of the product and the PO helps him achieve that.
  • The PM owns the marketing, vision, ROI where PO owns the product backlog and work done.
  • The PM works on a conceptual level and finds solutions to the users’ problems. The PO, on the other hand, is involved in day-to-day activities.

When posting a JD, please identify your needs and hire the relevant person. Abstain from finding solutions to the problems that no one has. A very humble note to all the marketing people, please don't tell the development team how to build a product like they don't tell you how to market it. Trust the process, trust the team, and let them do their job.

Introduction: What is a Product Owner?

A Product Owner is the one who is responsible for the success of a product. They are in charge of defining the product vision, and managing the work that goes into making it successful.

The Product Owner is accountable for setting priorities and making sure that all stakeholders are aligned with each other. They also need to be able to make decisions about what will happen next with the product, and be able to communicate those decisions effectively. It's their responsibility to ensure that there is a balance between improving existing products, and developing new ones.

The Product Owner needs to be able to understand what customers want from their products, while also understanding how they can provide value through these products. They need to have strong communication skills in order to convey this information clearly and concisely - both internally and externally.

keywords: product owner, pmo, product manager vs. product owner

The Role of a Product Owner

A Product Owner is the one who is responsible for managing the product backlog and ensures that the team builds what they have planned.

Product Owners are responsible for managing the product backlog, ensuring that the team builds what they have planned, and prioritizing work. They also serve as a customer advocate, making sure that their customers’ needs are met.

How to Be an Amazing Product Owner in 6 Simple Steps

Product owners are responsible for the success of a product. They need to have a clear vision for the product and be able to communicate that vision to the team. They also need to be able to convince stakeholders and make tough decisions.

Here are six simple steps that will make you an amazing product owner:

- Define your product vision

- Communicate your product vision

- Be prepared to make tough decisions

- Involve stakeholders in decision making process

- Ensure that you have all the resources necessary for the project before starting it

- Keep up with what competitors are doing and don't rest on your laurels

Avoid These Common Pitfalls as an Awesome Product Owner

Product owners should avoid these common pitfalls to be an awesome product owner.

1. Not understanding the product owner’s role

2. Not being able to communicate with stakeholders effectively

3. Not being able to prioritize tasks or delegate work

4. Being unable to manage scope creep and scope changes

Mudassir Mustafa Twitter

I help entrepreneurs and business leaders launch their products and reduce the chaos through building high performance teams and proven product management techniques.