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Steps a project manager should take in order to become a product manager

What steps are required to transition from project management to product management in software development? I will try to answer that question in this article.

A good start is to read my article the Difference Between Project Management And Operations Management, where I discuss the difference between Project Management and Operations Management, while a project manager work is in Project Management, a product manager work, is more likely in the Operations Management.

Project Manager

A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. A Project Manager is responsible for the successful delivery of a project within a specific deadline and budget. They manage the development of the product by aligning available resources and managing issues and risks. One of the most difficult tasks for a Project Manager is managing the scope of the project.

Product Manager

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. This approach helps determine which features should be built to achieve those goals. Product managers must answer these questions: “What problem does this solve?” And, “What are you building?” And, “What will the benefits be?”

Here is a breakdown of the responsibilities:

Project ManagerProduct Manager
  • Build requirements
  • Strategy – Looks less at day-to-day and more toward the future
  • Interface with stakeholders
  • Features – Becomes an expert on the product and the field
  • Influence cross-functional teams, usually without any formal authority
  • Ideation – Researches competition
  • Status Update – Communicate progress of projects
  • Releases – Prioritizes user stories and features
  • Negotiate to meet deliverables, cost, and timeline
  • Roadmaps the product’s future
  • Problem resolution – Remove roadblocks that will prevent the job from getting done
  • Go To Market – Meet with customers to understand needs and frustrations
  • Manage project Budget & Delivery
  • Introduces new features based on user feedback and business needs rather than trying to limit the scope
  • Manage capacity planning and the project resources
  • Is concerned about the user experience and product success rather than simply completing a project which meets the established scope, budget, and timeline.
  • Manage products profit and loss
  • Manage the creation of organizational training for product
  • Understands development/engineering, business, and user experience

There are many similar responsibilities between a Project Manager and a Product Manager, and sometimes the product manager needs to also be a project manager in a smaller environment.


Product managers and project managers work closely together in high-performance organizations. And both work with the broader product team and executive leaders.

A project manager is managing something temporary while a product manager is managing something that is ongoing.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to move to product management if you can prove that you:

  • are strategic and have a knack for looking at the big picture
  • have the people skills to communicate with customers, engineers, and designers
  • are resourceful and can come up with creative solutions to get the job done
  • have the business skills to justify where you’re taking the product

If you have comments please add them above in the comment box.





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