Often, a product owner is a product manager.
It is the role that differs rather than the title.
A common misconception is that a Product Manager is outward looking whilst a product owner is internal.
The thinking is that product managers work with customers and project stakeholders to design and develop a product that truly delights the market whereas a product owner is perceived to be internal and focused on working with the scrum team exclusively.
That’s not what we want.
A product owner is the CEO of the product.
They are meant to work both internally and externally to design and develop products, services and features that truly delight customers.
Scrum often integrates into an organisation via a small team of people who choose to work with Scrum as a vehicle to build compelling products and solve complex problems.
The organisation, for the most part, does not change to fit Scrum. Only select areas do.
So, often a title such as product manager fits the traditional organisation hiring policies whilst the product owner role is exclusive to the small Scrum teams that build and develop products.
A product owner could just as easily be a member of the development team. It could be a brand or marketing manager that assumes ownership of the product and all elements relating to product and service development.
A product owner is meant to work both externally as well as internally.
Externally, they would be working with customers and product stakeholders.
Internally, they would be working with the Scrum team to ensure that the team knows what is prioritized and why it is important. They would be working with the Scrum team to design and develop compelling solutions to complex problems.
They set the vision for the product and often act as either a conduit or a proxy.
A conduit in that they provide feedback from the market and from product stakeholders through to the team. A proxy in that they may well know the answer to the questions being posed and provide guidance directly to the team as the CEO of that product.
In traditional organisations, people tend to use the title product manager because of the hierarchy within the organisation.
It’s a way of identifying who fits where in the food chain.
Junior product manager. Senior product manager. Executive Product Manager.
In scrum, there is simply a product owner.
In some organisations, they will differentiate by identifying people as a junior product owner or a senior product owner based on experience and capability, but Scrum doesn’t speak to that at all.
It simply identifies the role as that of a product owner.
So that is where the confusion around the difference between a product manager and a product owner arises.
It is simply organisational hierarchy at play.
If you are interested in becoming a Product Owner, visit our Certified Scrum Product Owner course page. Also visit the Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner course page for an idea of progression within the role.
Frequently Asked Product Ownership Questions
- What is the difference between a Product Owner and a Project Manager?
- How is a product owner different to a product manager?
- Is a product owner a member of the development team?
- Do you need project management experience to be a Product Owner?
- How does a Product Owner integrate into a Scrum Team?
- Do project managers traditionally make great product owners?
- Is the product owner role a great fit for people in creative industries?
- Is there different levels of seniority for product owners?
- What are career opportunities for a Product Owner?
- What do Product Owners do?
- Do you need to be a developer to be a product owner for a software company?
- Can you create a Product Ownership role in a company that doesn’t do Scrum?
- What are some great traits of a product owner?
- How will I know if a product owner role is a great fit for me?
- Do product owners attend daily scrums?
- Do product owners interact and engage with project stakeholders?
- How does a product owner integrate into a marketing team?
- Do entrepreneurs make great product owners?
Frequently Asked Product Owner Training Questions
- What is a Certified Scrum Product Owner?
- Will I be able to lead product development after doing a CSPO course?
- What will you learn on a CSPO course?
- How well recognised and respected is the CSPO course?
- What do you need to know to sign up for the CSPO course?
- How well does a CSPO course prepare you to be a product owner?
- Do I get textbooks and course materials as part of my CSPO course?
- What would be a good certification path for a Product Owner?
- Are there different CSPO certifications and how do they differ?
- How long is the CSPO course and how is it configured?
- Is the CSPO course theoretical or practical?
- Do companies invest in CSPO courses or is it primarily individuals?
- How do I progress as a Product Owner?
- Would you recommend the CSPO course for entrepreneurs?