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Diff between Product Owner and Product Manager role

Last post 08:40 am October 6, 2023 by Oliver Flaggl
30 replies
12:36 am May 2, 2014

I am sure this topic will be covered and I must have missed that discussion. What is the difference between a Product Owner and Product Manager role?

I heard that Product Manager is more outward while Product Owner is more inward towards the team. Or there can be just one either Product Owner or Product Manager?


01:06 am May 2, 2014

I heard that Product Manager is more outward while Product Owner is more inward towards the team.

You have summed it nicely. In our company, where we are working on product based project, we have product owner(s) and a Product Manager.

Product Owner(s) have duty of requirement gathering, backlog maintaining and running sprints (+ other responsibilities as mentioned in Scrum Guide). However, product owners don't define quarterly / yearly road-map of product.

Product Manager in our company defines the road map of the product, costing of project, he deals with sales and marketing teams, resource management (HR) teams etc.

You can see a clear distinction here, I think it all has to do with how you define the role of Product Manager.

04:25 am May 2, 2014

I may be wrong here but there is no mention of Product Manager anywhere in Scrum. There are no courses, guides or any other references to that role. I believe in an ideal scrum framework the road map of the product is defined by the product owner with input from stakeholders and discussions with the scrum team. Sales and Marketing maybe considered as stakeholders and should be liaising with the Product Owner. The Product Owner can provide input into resource management issues.

06:02 am May 2, 2014

A traditional project manager can fulfill the roles of a scrum master or a product owner depending upon his or her skills/inclinations.

In case of a traditional project, a project manager fundamentally manages the project.

However, in a scrum project, the work is managed by the development team.

In scrum, the PO is responsible for maximizing the product value in addition to the work carried out by the development team. The PO is the sole entity responsible for creating and managing the product backlog.

The product owner “owns” the project on behalf of the stakeholders. He or she assumes a servant-leader role to facilitate the colloboration and transparency features which are very important in scrum. The project manager generally assumes a more autocratic role and decides everything pertaining to the project. The person also issues commands as to how the team should carry out the development activities - something never done by the PO in scrum.

03:15 am May 8, 2014

Hi Sanjay,

In nut shell of Scrum, here is difference. The P.O is part of scrum team where as the P.M doesn't having any role in the scrum team. You can put P.M in the stakeholder profile.

The P.O having final vote which user story goes in the sprint and the team and P.O can create stories. P.M won't do that.

Scrum Team Members: P.O, S.M, D.T
P.O: Product Owner
S.M: Scrum Master
D.T: Development Team

scrum-mines.blogspot dot in

09:31 am May 9, 2014

> What is the difference between a Product Owner and Product Manager role?

In Scrum the correct use of vocabulary is important. If there is any evidence or suspicion that the Scrum vocabulary is being compromised...for example by conflating or splitting roles...then Scrum is not being done well. The difference between a Product Owner and a "Product Manager" could therefore be the difference between a sound implementation of Scrum and a poor one.

12:31 am May 14, 2014

Yep, I also see it as implementation issue, no product manager role in Scrum. He can be a marketing or sales guy though.


08:47 am July 23, 2014

Actual question:

What’s the difference between a Product Owner and a Project Manager?

My initial thoughts are, PM doesnt exist in scrum so why are we comparing them.

If we go a bit deeper takes us down another avenue.

PM is responsible for managing a project so has the skills to scope, time, cost,communication,risk,quality.
PM would not always work with self organising teams or have the skills to adapt, top to bottom.

Would have skills to scope, time, cost,communication,risk,quality.
PO would always work with self organising teams as its Agile, bottom up.

So they are roughly the same but do the job differently is another option.
This question for me is a bit like this

Bob is a PM, he is six foot three, likes sport, and drinks ten pints.
Dave is a PO, five foot four, doesnt like sport, tea total.
(Dave is my PO but dont go out drinking with Bob)

Isnt it irrelavant what the difference is, if we think of it as a question of value in scrum.
In pints yes I could see some logic as Dave would be on a mission.
We dont have PM, its PO, does any PST for PSPO know what the thinking is behind this.
Scrum guide doesnt compare them.
This is like the "Who would be the best choice for PO question".


09:31 am July 14, 2016

the role of the product owner is a key in any Agile/Scrum methodology. At the same time, expectations and definitions of this role are even more blurred than the roles of Scrum Master and Scrum Team as the whole. If we speak in metaphors, the Scrum team is a powerful (or not really) car, and how fast it goes may directly depend on the driver’s level of experience, who is the Product Owner.

from here…

05:33 pm July 14, 2016

From my experience, organizations that utilize a Project Manager are most often still operating in a classical, top-down, directive style. When implemented properly, a Product Owner is operating in an agile, bottom-up, self-organizing style. How the role's duties are performed may vary, but the intended purpose is clear.
Being "responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the Development Team" and "one person, not a committee" while most likely representing "the desires of a committee" makes the Product Owner role vital to both the Scrum Team and the business alike. Input from all stakeholders funnels through him or her to guide in the creation and prioritization of the Product Backlog: the ever evolving collection of possibilities for the product. Providing clear understanding of what those items mean (in both function and value) aids in maximizing the efforts of the Development Team. The Product Owner and the product will be most effective and rewarding (both financially and personally) only when the statement "the entire organization must respect his or her decisions" is actually lived.
Although I like the analogy of a driver, I prefer navigator. He or she has a strong and shared vision of the final destination (product). He or she plots and adjusts the proposed course (Product Backlog) as the needs and desires change. He or she provides the understanding so that the goal of each short segment of the trip (Sprint) can be achieved without gong in a wrong direction.

04:20 pm July 22, 2016

I noticed in this thread that the original question has been misread by some responders. The OP asked the difference between "product manger" and "product owner"... NOT "project manager".

05:46 pm July 31, 2016

Good catch, Steven Lee.

Sanjay Saini, despite the error, do you feel that the you have received a helpful answer?

09:58 am May 19, 2017

I would add a few words to the definition of difference between PO and PM. 

The Ecosystem


Project Managers thrive in pre-planned, organized systems, while Product Owners work best in constantly changing environments.

The Cornerstone


Project Owners build the vision. Project Managers build the execution of a vision.

The Insight

A PO looks for insight in business analysis, while a PM bases decisions on technical analysis.

The Key Skill


A Project Manager needs more of organizational skills, while a Product Owner needs more of communication skills but they share many qualities.

The Teamplay

A Project Manager doesn’t necessarily have to constantly keep in touch with the team, even if it’s a good thing if he does. A Product Owner is encouraged to do so.


If you want to read more about the differences, feel free to read it here -> Difference between a Product Owner and a Project Manager 

08:02 am August 1, 2017

Product Manager:

  • Market/Customer facing. Identifies market needs. Collocated with marketing/business
  • Owns vision and roadmaps, program backlog, pricing, licensing, ROI.
  • Drives PI objective and release content via prioritized features and enablers.
  • Establishes features acceptance criteria.

Product Owner

  • Solution, Technology, and team facing, Collocated with team(s)
  • Contributes to vision and program backlog. Owns team backlog and implementation.
  • Defines iterations and stories. Accepts iteration increments.
  • Drives iteration goals and iteration content via prioritized stories
  • Establishes story acceptance criteria, accepts stories into the baseline.

If you want to read more about the differences, feel free to read it here -> Difference between a Product Manager and a Project Manager 

03:01 am November 10, 2017

Honestly Agile is the most confusing, not sure if I can use the word Immature. If you read two books you will get confused. particularly with the roles and the radiators wording. Maybe the "tailoring" is understood differently . I enjoyed so much during my 7 years "waterfall" journey. Now this Concept is confusing to me even after living in it for 4 years and changing 2 companies. Both the companies understood it differently and using it as per their convenience .. 

02:32 pm January 10, 2018

@Rameez Ramzan Thanks for your Feedback. The link you provided, is this the right one? Because it describes the difference between Product Manager and Project Manager and not Product Manager and Product Owner.

04:42 pm January 11, 2018

hi, i think your question is more like that:

Diff between Trump and Kim jong-un

1/ They are 2 roles in 2 differents system, they can not live in one system

2/ Product Owner is more like Trump, who is the role of responsible for guaranteeing the realization of the national values and interests, but, without any final decision, he needs to coordinate with all other components of this country.

Product Manager and others guys on top of him, like the directors etc, is more like Kim jong-un, who has the same responsibility as Trump, but, the way to make the final decision is much more simple and violence

Maybe i'm wrong about these 2 guys.


05:18 pm January 11, 2018

Don't get hung up on the names...

If you are a PO or a PM, you should be steering both the strategic and tactical elements. 

If you aren't then maybe try and challenge yourself to go somewhere with more accountability. You will learn much quicker, and deliver better products.

06:23 pm January 16, 2018

If you are Product Owner in a Scrum Team, your role is explained in the Scrum Guide.

If you are a Product Owner outside of Scrum, or you are a Product Manager, the Scrum Guide does not apply. Your role should therefore be explained elsewhere, and your responsibilities and expectations could reasonably differ from that of a Scrum PO.

05:18 pm November 14, 2018

"Product Manager" is a job description that might vary in tasks and responsibilities, some differntiate "outbound or inbound", some say "technical or commercial" product management. There is no clear general definition of that role, each company that employs a "product manager" has its own definition.

"Product Owner" is a role if the SCRUM framework is applied for development. This role can be carried out by someone who is employed as product manager, because his role within the organization's definition of a product manager might be suitable, or by someone else, because the product manager has other things to do (e.g support sales or mainitain partnerships etc)

07:05 pm November 14, 2018

What is the difference between a Product Owner and Product Manager role?

One is described as a role in Scrum (Product Owner) and the other is not (Product Manager). 

Read the last two paragraphs of this section of the Scrum Guide (

Product Manager/Product Owner is a hold over from previous organizational structures where work is split across multiple people and is directed by a few people. Which is one of the problems that agile set out to solve.

However, I will admit that if you look at some of the scaled agile frameworks they re-introduce the Product Manager role just as they introduce Development Manager and others.  Reality is that most companies won't adhere to Scrum in it's totality.  However, in all of those cases, anything outside the definitions of the Scrum Guide are not actually part of Scrum and should be handled by applying stakeholder rules in some way.

01:16 pm August 4, 2019

Hello together,

there still seems to be no clear and commonly accepted definition how the roles Product Manager and Product Owner can be differentiated. Some say both do the same, but only the Product Owner knows Scrum. Others, like me, say that they are different roles with a different focus. In my opinion it just seems to be the same role, if both roles are assigned to the same person. In some cases this might be the right thing to do, but in other cases it is too much work for one person.

I work as a Product Manager and a Product Owner for more than 6 years now. And I think the differentiation made in the following article fits pretty good according to my experience: 

But I want to find out more about other settings and other opinions on this topic. Therefore I want to find out if and under which circumstances both roles are assigned to different persons.

It would be great if you could help me and take part in my online survey. It is in English and will take you about 3 to 5 Minutes of your time. If you think both roles are the same, you can say that you have both roles. The survey is part of my Master Thesis.

You can find the survey here:

Thank you in advance and I am happy to get your feedback!

03:23 pm February 24, 2020

I think the question is wrong. 

If you are a PO you are a product manager in a scrum role. You manage the product, talk to customers, collet feedback, know the market etc. Every product manager does that. In a SCRUM environment you fill the role that creates and curates the backlog, assists the dev team in planning their sprint etc. And you are accountable to the rest of the organization for the outcome. 

Introducing product managers in a scrum environment doesn't make sense, because you negate the central function of a PO. In these organizations the PO becomes disconnected to the user and market. He looses autonomy to make decisions and becomes a mere "delivery manager" for engineering. Also you inevitably create a hirarchy between PMs and POs. This leads to problems, as the PM usually only "sees" marketable value, while the PO has to also manage all other value drivers, like technical improvements and reducing technical debt, as well as caring for existing customers and their needs. You fragment the power of prioritization between multiple people. This leads to lots of conflict and waste. 


This doesn't mean you can't split out certain PO responsibilities. You can introduce business owners for example, they research the market value, and then "pitch" their ideas to the PO for consideration. This way it works. If its just a hirarchy where the PM orders features by the PO it won't. This has truly been tested and in my mind this never works. 


That's why I also steer clear of companies that favor SAFe. 

09:25 pm April 5, 2020

Hi all, The product owner is the role you play in the Scrum team. The product manager is the job nearshore development. ... With the Scrum team, you can be more focused on making decisions. As a product manager, you might be managing a strategy for most of the product and learning your teams to find and execute well.

10:16 am April 8, 2020

I found out that while the owner is generally a hovering position, there is an overlap between itself, and a product manager. If anything, I will say that while the former is vertically mobile, the former is not. Maybe that is the only difference. However, I have seen models where the owner is generally allotted  to an exclusive position. I could be wrong, but here are my two cents.

07:06 am June 26, 2020

When talking about a role in Scrum, I tend to stick to what the Scrum Guide tells me it is, regardless of the interpretations that organizations, coaches, or even other frameworks have. This thread feels like looking at a dictionary and stating: "that's not how I've seen that word being used."

The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value. The word product manager is not in the Scrum Guide, it does say that Scrum will show you how well you are doing product management.

Product Management unfortunately doesn't have a single source that explains the rules of the game, the roles, artifacts, or events. The best definition I can find is "a person responsible for the success of the product."

It's close enough to state:

"A Product Owner is a Product Manager with a Scrum Team"

Much like any judo practitioner is a martial artist, but not all martial arts practice judo (sorry I couldn't resist)

Until they change the dictionary, pardon, Scrum Guide I would use it in that fashion.

09:07 am February 17, 2021

Here is the answer that Dave West gave:-

11:56 am March 28, 2022

The product manager discovers what users need, prioritizes what to build next, and rallies the team around a product roadmap. 

The product owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product by creating and managing the product backlog. This person creates user stories for the development team and communicates the voice of the customer in the Scrum process.

06:40 am October 5, 2023

Product Owners need to be highly responsive to the development team's questions and concerns to ensure that the product is delivered as intended within the sprint. On the other hand, product Managers have a broader and more strategic perspective. They are responsible for the overall product strategy, long-term vision, and market fit.

11:48 pm October 5, 2023

There is no difference in a Scrum context. Product Owners are Agile Product Managers, focusing on both product strategy and delivery.

08:40 am October 6, 2023

It's an apples-and-oranges comparison. And it's worrying that only a few people in this thread have pointed it out.

Product owner is a role in a Scrum team. Product manager is a job (title) in a company. Someone having the title of product manager can be a product owner in a Scrum team.

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