Project Management vs. Product Management


At first glance, Thing 1 (Project Management) and Thing 2 (Product Management) are nearly identical for all practical purposes including their aims and goals, but when you take a closer look, they are not the same thing.

Due to the similar names, a lot of people tend to get the two confused. A common challenge is that the two roles may be at odds with each other. For example, a product manager may want to add a lot of features to meet customer needs, but the project manager may want to limit the scope so that the project is delivered on time and under budget.

Let's start with their definitions:

A Project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources.

A Product is the creation of good, idea, method, information, object or service that serves a need or satisfies a want. It is a continuous process of delivering value added features and improvements.

Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.

Project Management Phases (based on PMBOK):

  • Originate (Pre-project)

  • Initiate

  • Plan

  • Execute

  • Monitor and Control

  • Close

Must Ask Questions:

  1. What are the goals and objectives in carrying out this project? (Project Charter)

  2. What is going to be accomplished? (Project Scope)

  3. Who is going to do it? (Project Team)

  4. When needs to be done? (Project Schedule)

  5. How much is it going to cost? (Project budget; Financial Management Plan)

  6. How is it going to be done? (Project Plan - Instructions and Execution plan)

  7. What quality is expected and how will quality be assured? (Quality Management Plan)

  8. How will the customers’ expectations be met? (Customer Communications Plan)

Major deliverables:

  • Project Knowledge Base

  • Project charter

  • Project Management Plan

  • Work Breakdown Structure

  • Feasibility Study

  • Communication Plan

  • Risk Management Plan

  • Procurement Plan

  • Quality Assurance Plan

  • Status Reports

  • Lessons Learned

Product Management is the process of obtaining, developing, maintaining, and improving a product or product mix in response to market opportunities through its lifecycle.

Product Management phases:

  • Conceive

  • Strategy and Plan

  • Develop

  • Validate/Qualify

  • Launch

  • Deliver/Sustain

  • Retire

Must Ask Questions:

  • What are the problems in the target market?

  • Why should we solve them? What is the ROI? What are the priorities?

  • What are the solutions to address the problems? How does it work?

  • What are the specs?

  • How do we launch the product into the market?

  • How do we capture the product performance metrics?

Major deliverables:

  • Product Knowledge Base

  • Competitive Analysis

  • Market Strategy Plan

  • Market Requirements Document

  • Product Requirement Document

  • Product Business Case

  • Product Roadmap

  • Technology Roadmap

  • Beta Plan

  • Launch Plan

  • Marketing Plan

  • End of Life Plan

Here is how Product and Project phases fit into each other:

"Product management is about making sure you are building the right product to solve the right problem, for the right person." -- Unknown

#ProductManagement #ProjectManagement #NewProductDevelopmentProcess

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