Product Manager vs Project Manager

Are Product Manager and Project Manager similar roles?

Two key figures for business development in comparison

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I admit it… I’m a good taster! Among my favourite dishes, pizza!

What does this have to do with the article? You’ll say.

Because thinking about my favourite dish, I found that the analogy with the person who created the pizza and the person who makes it is the same between the Product Manager and the Project Manager.

It is not necessarily the case that the creator of the pizza is also a good cook, just as, vice versa, a good pizza chef is also a creator of new recipes.

So I thought of writing an article to explain these differences between the two figures who are so important and complementary for the creation of successful products… like pizza.

If you are curious to find out, I invite you to continue.

Difference between product and project

To understand the profound difference between the two figures, we have to start from the beginning, that is the difference between a product and a project.

A project is characterized by the fact that it has a beginning and an end and the people assigned to its execution in order to reach a goal (scope) while keeping within budget constraints.

A product has none of this!

It does not have a start date or an end date, a life cycle whose duration is a variable dependent on too many factors to be enclosed within a defined period. The only thing that can define it temporally is its “degree of maturity”.

In the case of a product, then, we cannot talk about “scope” but “goal”, where it can also happen that it is a “Problem” that needs a solution.

Moreover, the resources become a “Team”, of other specific professional figures, autonomous and interdependent for the final goal.

Having said this we can make the identikit of both roles.

Who is Product Manager

He is first of all a visionary! Yes, he is the one who has the vision of the product.

To get to the product he must have clear market dynamics and needs. Then he develops the strategy for the realization of the product by choosing or shaping the team for its development.

For this function he must therefore know how to interface with any company function and … solve problems continuously. It’s a perfect problem-solving tool!

They are responsible for managing the entire product life cycle but also for the future of the products. In fact, in addition to creation, they must monitor the evolution of the product and its continuous development with market research and promotion.

Considering the changing nature of the market and the needs of customers, the development process becomes continuous, so flexibility becomes a key soft skill for this figure.

One of its main working tools is the Product Roadmap. Having to outline the path to be followed to meet the product vision, specifying the specific steps to be taken by the product team, is a fundamental responsibility of the team.

Who is Project Manager

The Project Manager is focused on planning.

He has the path to follow and the risks in mind. He has decision-making power over what to delay, budget and resources.

He defines individual activities and possible dependencies. Decides who is working on what, monitors progress and updates stakeholders on the “project progress”.

One of its main working tools is the Project Plan.

(If you want to learn more about the role of the Project Manager here you will find the full article.)


Although they perform different tasks and have different responsibilities in carrying them out, there are some aspects they have in common.

Both must be good communicators. Their work involves regularly reporting the situation and progress to stakeholders. In addition, both must have a good knowledge of the sector.

As can be seen, they are complementary and interdependent. One cannot do without the other to make decisions and create a successful product.

There is no good pizza without a good pizza maker and vice versa!

You… what do you think?

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Fabrizio Cesarini
Project Management Software
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