Product Manager Vs Project Manager

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Sometimes, similar-sounding terms can cause confusion, even though there are distinct differences between them. Product manager and project manager may sound alike, but they represent two different roles with some overlap. Both aim to deliver successful outcomes, but they tackle separate responsibilities. If you’ve been wondering about the distinctions between these roles, today’s podcast will provide you with the answers. I’m Sachin Sharma, with over 10 years of experience in product management, and I’ve mentored over 1,000 aspiring product managers. In this podcast, we’ll explore the differences between a product manager and a project manager, along with related concepts.

Distinguishing Product and Project:
First, let’s clarify the fundamental differences between a product and a project. A product can be a tangible item, like jewelry or an airbag, or it can be software designed to meet the needs of a specific group of customers. Each product follows a lifecycle from development to launch. In contrast, a project comprises a set of tasks undertaken to achieve a particular objective. In projects, the focus is on delivering a defined outcome, which can vary.

Product Management:
Product management involves overseeing products throughout their lifecycles within an organization. Product managers set the vision for a product and ensure it fulfills its goals until it’s retired. While specific roles may vary from one company to another, some common responsibilities include:

  • Defining product strategy
  • Collaborating with cross-functional teams
  • Creating product roadmaps
  • Problem-solving
  • Product planning
  • Overcoming roadblocks
  • Monitoring market trends
  • Engaging with customers to understand their needs and pain points
  • Evaluating product performance

These are the primary duties of a product manager.

Project Management:
Project management, on the other hand, entails overseeing a project from its initiation to completion. Projects have clear start and end points and can range from large-scale endeavors to smaller initiatives. Project managers are responsible for:

  • Project planning
  • Team creation and management
  • Budget oversight
  • Implementation
  • Performance monitoring until completion
  • Collaboration with various teams
  • Communication with leaders and stakeholders
  • Organizing and leading team meetings

These constitute the primary responsibilities of a project manager.

Salary and Position:
A common question that arises is whether product managers or project managers earn more. Interestingly, as per Glassdoor in 2022, the salaries for both roles were quite similar. As for which role is at a higher position, consider that a single product often involves multiple projects. Therefore, product managers typically occupy a higher-level position than project managers, overseeing various projects within their domain.

Choosing Between Roles:
If you’re wondering which role to pursue, here’s a suggestion. Opt for product management if you excel in problem-solving, have a deep understanding of customers, and possess the creativity to generate innovative solutions to address customer pain points. However, if you don’t have these qualities, project management may be a better fit for you.

In summary, product and project managers have distinct roles and responsibilities. Product management focuses on overseeing products throughout their lifecycles, while project management centers on achieving specific objectives through organized tasks. Both roles offer similar salaries, but product managers often hold higher-level positions. Your choice between these roles should align with your skills and interests.

To further enhance your product management skills, consider joining my community by participating in my upcoming free training at For existing community members, upgrading to the Diamond membership can accelerate your product management journey and connect you with like-minded achievers and action takers. 

Best of luck, take care, and stay tuned for more informative content in future podcasts. Thank you.

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