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Many people don’t realize there are differences in project management vs. product management, and they use the terms interchangeably. Both roles are often shortened to “PM,” and the people or teams in these roles are responsible for reaching established business goals. However, that’s where the similarities end, as these roles function quite differently.

Understanding the key differences in product and project management can facilitate a better understanding of your company’s inner workings. In this article, we’ll explain the differences in these roles and introduce valuable tools and templates you can use on monday.com to help achieve your product vision or project plan.

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What is project management?

Project managers oversee a project team responsible for applying the processes, skills, and experience necessary to achieve predetermined objectives. These objectives work within predefined parameters and with clear criteria that help your company move toward success. Project plans and objectives are often established using industry-accepted tools, like a Gantt chart or workflow chart.

The primary way project management varies from other forms of leadership is that project managers are responsible for faster moving deadlines. In other management roles, you’ll often have a few short-term goals and long-term objectives you hope to achieve over time, and those goals may be ongoing. For example, a department manager might be tasked with increasing efficiency and productivity year-over-year.

But a project’s scope is finite, with strict timeframes and deadlines that, once met, often signal the end of a specific project. The available budget and man hours are also usually limited.

You can use project management to:

  • Produce something new — usually outside your company’s usual operations
  • Bring together a temporary group of individuals from different departments or locations for a concerted effort
  • Provide a greater chance of success in a short-term endeavor
  • Create a singular contact point for stakeholders and company leaders
  • Ensure the most efficient use of resources
  • Enable forward-moving progress necessary for projects to meet deadlines

What is product management?

Product management involves someone — or a team of people — in charge of:

  • Product strategy and implementation: This includes pitching new ideas for products and ensuring they meet the needs or desires of customers. A product strategy also involves market research, developing a product roadmap, and creating a designated marketing campaign.
  • Product development and production: This includes working with engineering and design team members to bring a product idea to life. The development team must ensure that products meet safety standards and adhere to industry specifications.

A product manager plays a key role as the single contact point between various teams and departments. Their purpose is to keep these teams moving forward to accomplish a product release on time while ensuring the initial product vision — typically developed by a product owner — is upheld.

Obviously, project teams may be tasked with developing products as solutions to challenges or customer needs. So focus on a product isn’t the major difference between project and product management.

How does project management differ from product management?

The primary differences between product management and project management are the timelines and scope involved.

Projects are usually temporary endeavors. If you’re a project manager, you may jump from one objective to the next rather as your team completes final goals and objectives. The timeline for projects is finite and can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on the end goal.

Products are physical goods or services that satisfy the customers’ needs, and management of these can extend through the lifetime of the product from development to retirement. Products don’t always come with the finite timelines of projects, so these teams and leaders won’t necessarily jump from one objective to the next quickly.

Whether you’re leaping from project effort to project effort or managing a long-term product team, you need tools for success. A solid project management solution that includes communication options, workflow automations, and templates to get you started can be invaluable in both cases.

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Using monday.com to manage projects or products

Whether you’re managing projects or products, the monday.com Work OS has the tools you need to keep your company moving forward. Key platform features include:

  • Customizable dashboards: Our customizable dashboards let you see product or project progress from one screen. View where multiple product or project efforts stand from one dashboard. Use these screens to identify bottlenecks, roadblocks, or other issues in your processes.
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  • Effortless automation: Automate routine tasks and approvals to save time and increase efficiency. Use automation to streamline processes in product or project management.
  • Real-time collaboration: Our platform’s document feature lets you collaborate with your team in real-time, reducing time lost sending or receiving emails, calls, and texts. Team members from around the globe can work together and leave notes on dashboards that can be color-coded to denote status changes.
  • Numerous integration possibilities: Your favorite tools easily integrate into the Work OS platform to increase productivity and overall efficiency. A few examples of potential integrations include Dropbox, Slack, Outlook, and Microsoft Teams.

Our powerful Work OS platform also supports useful templates to make product or project management faster and more efficient.

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Templates related to product or project management

Templates make product or project management more efficient by standardizing documentation and reporting. You can take the guesswork out of reports, plans, and management when you’re given a solid pre-built foundation you can customize to fit unique needs.

Features and releases roadmap template

Our features and releases roadmap template helps keep your whole product team on the same page. Use this template to:

  • Build features roadmaps and appropriately plan product releases
  • Prioritize major releases or assign priority levels to all relevant tasks
  • Assign each task to a team member
  • Track your plan’s progress by viewing and managing timelines or production statuses
  • Communicate with team members as necessary
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Software development template

Our software development template can help you achieve goals and meet deadlines when developing software or related products. Track cross-functional teamwork from one user-friendly interface and plan upcoming product releases to keep everyone informed of statuses and timelines. Receive instant notifications about errors, tickets, and bugs so you can efficiently move forward with fixes.

Project management template

Our project management template takes the hassle and confusion out of managing projects so you can keep your team on the road to success. Easily add your action items and reorder them based on priority to create a customized plan that fits your project’s needs. Then assign action items to qualified team members and monitor their progress at every stage.

While project and product management are similar roles, the timelines and management scope are very different and require unique tools to complete. If you still have questions about project management vs. product management, we’ve provided some more answers to a few FAQs below.

FAQs

What is the difference between a project manager and a product owner?

A product owner supports the development team by serving as an internal customer expert. Their role is supportive and primarily revolves around clarifying requirements and answering questions. On the other hand, a project manager oversees the project, ensures teams meet deadlines, and operates as a single contact point for various involved groups.

Can a project manager become a product manager?

Yes, a project manager can become a product manager if that’s one of their career goals. Both positions use many of the same skills. However, a project manager may need additional training, experience, schooling, or certifications to take the step to product manager due to a few key differences in the operational capacities of these roles.

Streamline product or project management with monday.com

While many tools and processes overlap, there are a few key differences in what you need to succeed for project management vs. product management. monday.com has the tools you need to streamline product or project management processes.

Start planning with a few of our templates today. Then bring your entire project or product management teams to your boards for seamless communication and the ease of workflow automation.