Product….Project….AAAAHHHHH Whats the difference?

Product….Project….AAAAHHHHH Whats the difference?

For the better part of my entire adult career, one common question/problem has always plagued me. As a seasoned Product Manager with over 10+ years experience it’s so common to get confused questions….are you a Project Manager? Can I get a Project plan? What’s your resource plan look like for this project? It goes on and on and on till I want to pull my hair out. Needless to say, this is a topic very near and dear to my heart….so let’s tackle the dreaded Product vs Project question once and for all! First up let’s take a trip down Product lane!


Product Definition

product is the value proposition you are delivering to a user. It can be anything: a physical product that you hold in your hands, a software application, or a service that you are delivering.

Product Manager role

What is a product manager? Product managers are often described as the Servant Leaders of their products setting strategy, prioritize releases, talk to customers, and clearly define features. A product manager’s goal is to deliver a product that delivers end-user value.

Product Manager’s responsibilities

The product manager is responsible for setting the product strategy. By having a “goal first” approach to managing and building the product, great product managers can create initiatives to help reach those goals. Product managers must answer these questions:

What problem does this solve?”

“What are you building?”

“What will the benefits be?”


Product managers own:






Organizational training

Profit and Loss


Now let’s take a look at the flip side and dive deep into the Project side of the house

Project Definition 

In contrast, project is a plan with a series of activities that have a defined outcome and a fixed start and end date. The project is completed when that outcome is accomplished.

Project Manager Role

What is a project manager? Project managers oversee a fixed project from beginning to end. It can be a single project or a group of projects. Their job is to execute the strategy set by the product manager or leadership team. A project manager’s goal is to work with a broader team with a diverse set of skills and to complete a project on time and under budget.

Project Manager’s responsibilities 

The project manager is often less concerned with specific product goals and focused on the project itself. A project manager takes product initiatives and features to develop a timeline based on any potential constraints related to resources, risks, or scope. Project managers must answer the questions, “What resources are needed?” And, “When will the project get delivered?” And, “Who is going to do what?”

Project managers own:





Cross-team organization

Problem resolution

Status updates


This is really just the tip of the iceberg but hopefully, this helps make things a bit more clear on the two very different roles, in a future blog I’ll touch on the role of product owner and how it fits in the above.