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What Is The Difference Between Product Management and Project Management?

Product Management vs. Project Management:  In Pictures Some people ask me questions like: What is product management? How is an IT product different than an enterprise system? What makes Product Management different than Project Management? I’d like to take this opportunity to really boil it down for you using basic images. I mean really basic. […]

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January 29, 2013

Product Management vs. Project Management:  In Pictures

Some people ask me questions like: What is product management? How is an IT product different than an enterprise system? What makes Product Management different than Project Management? I’d like to take this opportunity to really boil it down for you using basic images. I mean really basic. You may want your money back.

Here we go…

For every product, the answer is going to be slightly different. Depending on what your product is, you are going to have different goals, different KPIs, and different focus areas. Ah, products — you know ‘em when you see ‘em. So, let’s take a look at some of their shapes in order to identify common elements about products.

Here’s Your Product:

To use the technical term, it’s a thing.  It could be a piece of technology that provides some good to someone.  Sometimes it’s a combination of hard good and technology. The product manager or product marketing manager is responsible for getting people to like your thing and buy your thing. So, you decide to do some research and improve your product. You take on some projects based on the feedback.  Maybe you decide to have a couple projects to implement new features or target new market segments.

Here’s Your Product When You Do Product Development Using Projects:

Some of these projects improve your core product, some of your projects expand your product, and some of your projects may be to use the branding of your product to create another product. See? Product Management vs. Project Management is your average square-peg-round-hole scenario.

But you are using lean techniques to continuously improve your product. You perhaps have continuous integration set up or are iteratively and incrementally improving your product. So, eventually, you wake up, and your product looks a little different….

Here’s Your Product After Continuous Improvement:

Wow! Your product looks a LOT different than before you were talking to your customers! You had no idea that your product needed to solve THAT problem for your customers. Cool!

Months go by, and there’s a new entrant into your product’s market that’s disrupting your business model or core technology. Eeek. People don’t want products like yours anymore. So, you collect your customer data and verify that no, instead, your product needs to do something totally different in order to satisfy your customers. So, you pivot.

Here’s Your Product After You Pivot:

Phew! Good save. You were able to take your customer knowledge and make a clear judgment call to change how your product was helping your customers or who it was helping. Remember, this is a managed change. You can’t pivot without having data to back it up.

I’m out of Shapes, but Not out of Stuff to Talk About!

This is where I start running out of shapes. As you can tell, this was a really high budget operation.  I’ll leave it there for now, but please leave your comment here if you have any burning Product Management questions.

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