Product manager versus Product Owner

17 Aug 2023

The emergence of the Product Owner role

With the advent Agile methodology and Scrum practices, a new role emerged: The Product Owner. This role was designed to have someone who was accountable for the value delivered by a team working in these more Agile settings.

The Product Owner role, by virtue of being based in Agile and Scrum environments, is crucial in determining what the team should build next, and ensuring that every decision adds to the value of the final product.

Start-ups vs larger organisations

The environment in which you work can significantly influence the role you play.

In a start-up setting, you will be all over the product management work of forecasting, understanding the market, managing budgets, and so on.

However, in a larger organisation, you could be primarily focusing on your designated responsibilities, collaborating with other departments who are managing the tasks outside your realm.

Strategic vs tactical

One of the most frequently observed¬ – and potentially challenging – distinctions made between a product manager and Product Owner is the split between strategic and tactical responsibilities. It is often stated that a product manager handles the strategic aspects, while the Product Owner is more concerned with the tactical aspects. However, this is a very dangerous step to take. These roles aren’t polar opposites but two sides of the same coin, with a great deal of overlap and interplay between their functions. Because, in essence, an effective Product Owner is an Agile product manager.

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