Difference Between Product Owner and Product Manager: How to Share Roles and Benefit
7 min.

If you’re in charge of product development, you’ve likely heard the terms Product Manager and Product Owner. While these roles are related, they have distinct responsibilities and skillsets. We at ProCoders know this for sure because we’ve helped complete 150+ IT teams with experts in many fields.

So, in this article, we’ll explore the key differences between a Product Owner and a Product Manager, and how to share these roles to maximize the benefits for your organization. After all, both are vital for a project’s success. 

How come? Let’s find out!

product owner vs product manager

Key takeaways:

  • The difference between Product Owner and Product Manager is very important because it allows for wiser resource distribution, informed decisions, and more effective project development.
  • While Project Owner focuses more on customer needs and product quality, Project Manager works on the strategy and development roadmap. You can find more about the relationship and differences between the two in the table ProCoders has prepared.
  • One person can hold both positions, but the efficiency of such a solution depends on the scale of the company and its projects.
  • Product Owner’s KPIs include sprint velocity and release frequency, among others, while Product Manager’s ones include revenue and customer satisfaction.
  • ProCoders and our clients have been gaining benefits from these separate positions for quite a while, improving the projects’ quality and speeding up time to market.

Why Is It Important to Differentiate Between a Product Owner and a Product Manager?

It’s important for organizations to understand the difference between a Product Manager and a Product Owner. First of all, they have distinct responsibilities and need certain skills that are critical for the success of the product and the organization. 

We at ProCoders have seen a fair share of projects, so we write based on our expertise in working on many cases where such distinction was crucial. By differentiating the roles, each person can focus on their specific areas, leading to more efficient product development.

A clear benefit of understanding the Product Owner versus Product Manager question is task clarity which results in less overlap in responsibilities.

The Product Owner focuses on defining and prioritizing the product backlog, while the Product Manager oversees the overall product strategy, ensuring that it aligns with the business goals. This separation can lead to a higher quality product that better meets the needs of the customer.

Another advantage of understanding the skills of the Product Manager vs Owner is more effective resource utilization. Distributing the budget is easier when you know for sure if you need one person or 2+ for taking up the roles.

Finally,  knowing who and when to hire can improve decision-making. Each person can bring their unique opinions to the table, with the Product Owner providing insights into the customer needs, and the Product Manager offering tips into the business strategy. This allows the organization to make informed decisions.

So, what exactly are the responsibilities of Product Manager vs Product Owner? Let’s look further into the topic.

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Responsibilities of the Product Owner vs Product Manager

The Product Owner vs Product Manager have different responsibilities, which could look similar. How about we divide them? ProCoders’ specialists have created a brief yet informative table so that you can see the similarities between the two specializations, as well as their differences.

ResponsibilitiesProduct OwnerProduct Manager
Define the product vision and roadmap✔️✔️
Prioritize features and functionality✔️
Define user stories✔️
Work closely with the development team✔️✔️
Ensure quality✔️
Monitor and analyze product metrics✔️
Define the overall product strategy✔️
Conduct market research✔️
Manage the product roadmap✔️
Work with cross-functional teams✔️
Communicate product vision and strategy✔️
Product Owner vs Product Manager responsibilities.

We can see some common tasks here, so the obvious question is are the two interchangeable? Let’s see.

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Can a Product Owner Be a Product Manager at the Same Time?

If you look at job descriptions online, companies are looking for one person that would do multiple jobs, not only Project Manager versus Product Owner but also a developer, QA specialist, etc., unfortunately. 

However, yes, it is possible for a person to be both a Product Owner and a Product Manager, but it depends on the organization’s structure and the complexity of the product.

In some companies, particularly startups or small businesses, the roles may be combined into one position. This can be effective if the product is relatively simple, and the person has the skills and experience to manage both sets of responsibilities successfully.

However, in larger organizations with more complex projects, the Product Manager vs. Product Owner is clear – there’s a need for two separate people.

To understand if you need an additional position, we offer to look into the KPIs and value the two occupations bring to the table.

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Product Owner vs Product Manager: What is the Difference in KPI and Value to Project? 

Either the Product Manager or Product Owner have some KPIs and values. We at ProCoders have prepared a breakdown of their key differences.

Product Owner’s KPI.

The Product Owner’s KPIs are typically focused on the tactical execution of the product development process. They may include metrics such as:

  • Sprint Velocity in Scrum (Agile): the amount of work completed by the development teams in each sprint.
  • Release Frequency: how often the product is released to customers.
  • User Story Completion: how many user stories are completed in each sprint.
  • Time-to-Market: how quickly the product is launched to market.
Product Manager KPIs don’t usually match those of a Product Owner.

The Product Manager’s KPIs are typically focused on the strategic direction of the product and the overall business goals. They may include metrics such as:

  • Revenue: the amount of money generated by the product.
  • Market Share: as compared to competitors.
  • Customer Satisfaction: how satisfied the clients are with the product.
  • Return on Investment: the ROI generated by the product as opposed to the software development cost.

Value to Project

The Product Owner’s value to the project lies in their ability to execute the development process effectively. They are responsible for ensuring that the result meets customer needs, is free of defects, and is launched to market on time. 

The Product Manager’s value to the project, on the other hand, lies in their skills to build an overall product strategy and align it with the business goals. They are responsible for understanding the industry trends, identifying customer needs, and developing a go-to-market strategy that maximizes revenue and market share. The Product Manager provides value by ensuring that the product is positioned for success in its niche.

Both can use a document management system and other software to aid development. So, here we come to the final question. Should you hire both PO and PM to bring all these values? 

 document management system

Benefits of Hiring a Product Owner and a Product Manager: The ProСoders Experience

ProСoders is a software development outsourcing company that understands the importance of having dedicated specialists with clear responsibilities on their projects. We’ve worked on hundreds of mobile and web apps and have seen all those companies from the inside. So, our experience doesn’t end on ProCoders – it goes beyond. 

Here are some benefits that we’ve seen in cases where the project had both experts:

  • Clear Roles and Responsibilities.
    By hiring both a Product Owner and a Product Manager, ProСoders and our clients were able to ensure clear tasks for each position. This has led to more optimized product development, as each person could focus on their specific area of expertise.
  • Improved Product Quality.
    With a dedicated Product Owner, our clients were (and still are) able to prioritize the features and functionality that are most important to the customer. This leads to a higher quality product.
  • Increased Customer Satisfaction.
    By learning customer needs and working closely with the development team, ProCoders is able to deliver apps with increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Faster Time-to-Market.
    With a dedicated Product Manager, ProCoders’ clients are able to define the overall product strategy and match it with the business goals. This leads to process optimization and, as a result, a faster time-to-market, from “How to make inventory management software?” to “Are we ready to launch?”
  • Better Decision Making.
    With both a Product Owner and a Product Manager, our customers are able to make better decisions concerning the project’s features and usability.
  • Efficient Resource Utilization. With clear roles, we’re able to allocate resources more efficiently, leading to improved productivity and a better product development process.
Is Product Owner Same as Product Manager?

No, a Product Manager and a Product Owner are not the same things, although there can be some overlap in their responsibilities.

A Product Manager is responsible for overseeing the entire product strategy and development process, from ideation to launch and beyond. They work closely with cross-functional teams, including engineering, design, marketing, and sales, to ensure the product’s success in the market.

A Product Owner, on the other hand, is responsible for making sure the development team understands the assignments and all features are agreed upon with the vision of a perfect customer. They work closely with the PMs and the programmers to ensure all the processes are smooth and the final result meets potential buyers/users’ expectations.o ensure that the end-result meets the customer’s needs and aligns with the overall product 

In some organizations, the difference between Product Manager and Product Owner is non-existent since it’s one specialist, but in others, the roles are separate. It’s important to understand the differences between the two roles and ensure that your business has a clear vision of who is responsible for what.

What Skills Does a Product Owner Need?

A Product Owner needs strong communication skills, product management knowledge, business acumen, user-centric focus, technical fluency, adaptability, and leadership skills to be successful in their role.

How to Hire a Good Product Manager for a Startup?

Defining the role, looking for candidates with proper experience, assessing their portfolios, and testing their experience and problem-solving skills are some steps to ensure you hire a decent Product Manager.

Additional interviews and talking to past clients are also useful approaches to the search.

When Does a Startup Need a Product Owner?

A startup may need a Product Owner during the ideation, MVP, growth, and maturity stages. The person will ensure the right decisions are made. However, many startups have the same specialist for both PO and PM, for the sake of cost-saving. If you hire a skilled individual for the job, the project can still succeed. 


ProСoders specializes in offshore development team management and help with getting additional staff. We’ve seen both small businesses with one person doing both jobs successfully and large enterprises with a separate Product Owner and several Product Managers. So, your choice depends on the particular needs of your project. No matter what, the benefits we described above are true. And if this is something you need, we can help you hire a new team member!

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