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The Difference in Product Ownership and Project Management

Updated: Apr 14

“Action springs not from thoughts but readiness for responsibility.”


To take required actions one must also know their responsibilities clearly and straight.

Now, most people know what project management is and what a project manager does. As project managers are everywhere in the organization, the role and responsibilities of project management are well aware and well defined to everyone. But even in agile and being in tech-savvy companies, most individuals confuse product ownership with project management. Whereas, these product owners and project managers roles and responsibilities are way different from one another. It is because most people are not aware of the role of product owners in agile. Even many ask the question of whether these project manager and product owner roles are interchangeable?


In this article, we will know why the role of product owner is different from project managers and how their two responsibilities are different from each other. Before starting our discussion we must know that product ownership is not the way of agile project management.


What does Product Ownership mean?


As the name itself suggest, it is the complete ownership of the product an individual or a team of individuals needs to carry. The main target of product ownership is to maximize the value of a product. Product ownership is the responsibility of start to the end of a product even before the product start to take shape. The value of a product is maximized by selecting the right choices of building and eliminating something from the product. Hence, it also includes product vision, managing product backlog, and also stakeholders as a responsibility. Therefore, we can say the individual having product owner has to be there in every decision related to product actively.


What is included in product ownership?

While taking ownership a person must have a clear vision about the product and must be able to get thorough feedback from stakeholders about it instead of taking orders from them.

Taking product ownership means taking full responsibility for the success and failure of a product. They don’t have the comfort of putting the blame.

In product ownership, the direction of the product is decided by the responsible person. It’s they who decide the path.

Product owners are the one who brings and authorizes the resources and fund required for the product.

Ownership also includes constant visibility and sustainable support required in developing the product. It means ownership involves complete product it's returns, values, budget, maintaining, and sharing of product vision correctly.


Product ownership also involves product backlog management. Product backlog management means expressing items, providing a complete understanding of product backlog visibility, transparency and clarity so that the team members should work on them.

As discussed above it also include shareholder management which means aligning the product vision, objective, and goals with others and helping to achieve it.


Whereas if we look at the responsibilities one has to take in project management may overlap to some extent with product ownership but they are not the same. As project owners don’t have to take complete ownership of the project's success and failure. Explaining it in detail as below with the basic task in project management are;


Project management includes


  • Creating and managing the business cases

  • Managing quality of the project work

  • Managing organization of projects

  • Ensuring required changes as per change request

  • Identify, manage and clear out project risk

  • Guide team members on project management tools and configurations

  • Create documentation for a better understanding of the project and project plans

Even though some of the responsibilities seem equal in both the roles, the difference will be cleared with the below points, where we will explain why they are not the same.


Project management does not include
  • As said in project management is not accountable for the success and failure of a project, the project board does.

  • It does not require providing the unified direction to the project as this is also done by a project board

  • It is also not required to provide the budget and resources to project

  • Project management does not include providing sustainable support and vision

  • It doesn’t include management of stakeholders

  • It does not include specifying user needs as it is done by senior users

  • It doesn’t include as much responsibility of ensuring project quality as this task is shared with senior users or team leaders

By going through the above information you must have got a detailed idea of how product ownership is different and includes much more responsibilities than project management and how a “small change can make a big difference."



About Advance Agility

We, at Advance Agility, are the new-age Agile Coaching, Consulting and IT services company. We enable end-to-end Digital Transformation. Agile execution is integral to our being. We are doing SAFe implementation with small, medium and large organization across the globe. Our vision is to be the leading Agile execution player globally. To keep adding value at every process stage. We are on a mission to empower our clients, move from concept to cash in the shortest sustainable lead time by adopting human centric approach to business agility. Embracing the change is in our DNA. Things that keep us apart are Quicker and Seamless execution with End-to-end gamut of services. Our Global presence and Stellar Track Record give us an edge over our competitor.


Connect with us at advanceagility.com to learn about SAFe and SAFe Implementation. Write to us at contact@advanceagilty.com for any agile training or consulting needs. We are always looking for competent agile trainers as well. So if you are a good trainer or want to become one, do get in touch with us to that we can learn, grow and achieve together.


Develop the skillsets needed to guide the delivery of value in a Lean enterprise by becoming a SAFe® 5 Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM)

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