How are Product Management and Project Management Different from Each Other?

How are Product Management and Project Management Different from Each Other? | Product Design & Innovation | Emeritus

In today’s fast-paced business environment, companies constantly seek new ways to innovate and stay ahead of competition. Product managers and project managers play a crucial role in this process. Given the nature of their jobs, the product manager vs project manager rivalry is inevitable, but any conflict also brings to the fore their collaborative skills in achieving common goals. Let’s understand more about these two pivotal functions.

Product manager vs project manager

What is Project Management?

What is Project Management?

Project management is the process of planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet success criteria within a specified time. A project manager has to deal with several constraints, including project scope, time, budget, quality, resources, and risk. 

Benefits of Being a Project Manager

Project management is a highly sought-after skill and can open doors to new opportunities, growth, and better job prospects. It involves continuous learning that helps advance your career, allows you to work in different industries, and brings in a sense of accomplishment upon delivering successful projects. 

What Does a Project Manager Do?

Project managers are responsible for the planning, execution, monitoring, controlling, and closing of a specific short-term project. They lead the project team, make decisions, and keep the project on track by dealing with constraints such as scope, time, budget, and resources. 

What Do Project Managers Focus on?

Project managers focus on several key areas to guide the development and success of a project. They ensure the project is completed on time, within budget, and meets the defined quality standards. They also track progress, identify and resolve issues, communicate with stakeholders and manage their expectations.

Product Manager Vs. Project Manager: Who is Higher in the Hierarchy?

The battle of product manager vs project manager is present in every organization. In most organizations, the product manager is considered to be higher in the hierarchy than the project manager. The product manager is responsible for the overall strategy, vision, and success of a product or product line; the project manager is responsible for the planning and execution of a specific project. This hierarchy and responsibility of roles can nevertheless vary depending on the company’s structure and culture.

How Do Product Managers and Project Managers Collaborate

Despite this hierarchical pitting of product manager vs project manager, the two need to collaborate to bring a product to the market. While product managers focus on the product’s overall strategy, vision, and roadmap, project managers focus on the planning and execution of the project. 

Product managers work closely with project managers to ensure that the product is developed and launched on time, within budget, and meets the goals in the product plan. They collaborate on product backlog prioritization, feature development, and testing. Product managers also work with project managers to develop go-to-market strategies and positioning and to ensure that the product is effectively promoted and marketed to the target market while simultaneously meeting the needs of the customers and stakeholders. 

Product Manager Vs. Project Manager Salary

Product Manager Vs Project Manager Salary

The salaries of a product and project manager are affected by factors such as industry, location, and size of the company.  According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for a product manager in the U.S. is around $117,528. In contrast, the average annual salary for a Project Manager in the U.S. is around 90,886. 

ALSO READ: How to Become a Product Manager in 7 Steps

Becoming a Product Manager Vs. Project Manager

Career Paths for Product Managers Vs. Project Managers

To become a product manager, individuals must typically have a background in business, marketing, or engineering and gain experience in product development, market research, and customer insights. Some product managers start in a related field, such as marketing or sales, and then transition into product management. Others may begin their careers in a more technical role, such as software development and then move into product management.

To become a project manager, individuals typically have a background in project management, engineering, or business and gain experience in project planning, execution, and monitoring. Some project managers start in a related field, such as construction, IT, or operations, and then transition into project management.

In summary, becoming a product manager or project manager typically involves gaining experience in the relevant field and obtaining certifications. The paths are different but often require a combination of technical and business skills and have the potential to lead to a fulfilling and well-paying career.


Both product managers and project managers can benefit from certifications such as Certified Product Manager (CPM) and the Project Management Professional (PMP). These certifications demonstrate a level of expertise and can help advance your career.

Can a Project Manager Become a Product Manager?

Yes, a project manager can become a product manager. Project managers have experience in planning, executing, and monitoring projects, which can be valuable skills for a product manager. A project manager with experience in leading cross-functional teams, managing budgets, and delivering projects on time. The projects must be within scope so that they can apply these skills to the role of a product manager.

To become a product manager, a project manager may need to gain additional skills and experience in areas such as market research, customer insights, and product development. They may need to familiarize themselves with the product development life cycle and various methodologies and tools used in product management, such as Lean, Agile, among others.

ALSO READ: What is Project Management and How to Become a Successful PM

Product Manager Vs. Project Manager: Which is Better?

Product management is focused on creating and launching successful products. It requires a combination of technical and business skills, as well as the ability to think strategically and understand customer needs. Project management is focused on leading and delivering successful projects. It requires skills in planning, execution, monitoring, and controlling. Product and project managers both play a vital role in an organization and require diverse skills to succeed. It’s important to evaluate your own skills, interests, and career goals before deciding which path to pursue.

In order to learn more about these exciting careers, explore Emeritus’ wide range of product innovation and project management online courses, as well as a variety of other options.

By Siddhesh Shinde

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Product manager vs project manager

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Emeritus brings you the latest learning trends, in-demand skills, and research across the most sought-after professions. Discover the benefits of lifelong learning with us.
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