Understanding the Different Avenues: Project Manager, Product Owner, and Product Manager

Updated on: Nov 01, 2023

Understanding the Different Avenues: Project Manager, Product Owner, and Product Manager

In the constantly evolving landscape of SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses, understanding the roles that drive a project from conception to completion is crucial. Among these roles, the titles of Project Manager, Product Owner, and Product Manager often stand out. Although they may sound similar, the responsibilities and skills required for each differ in subtle yet impactful ways. This article aims to delineate these roles, helping you grasp the nuances and make informed decisions about structuring your SaaS team.

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What is a Project Manager?

A Project Manager (PM) is responsible for planning, executing, and closing projects. Their primary objective is to achieve specific goals within a specified time and budget. They often manage resources, schedules, and risk assessments to ensure that projects are completed efficiently.

Key Responsibilities

  • Project planning and resource allocation
  • Risk management
  • Schedule tracking
  • Budget control
  • Stakeholder communication

What is a Product Owner?

A Product Owner (PO) is part of an Agile team, acting as a bridge between business stakeholders and the development team. They own the product backlog, defining what features will be developed and in what order.

Key Responsibilities

  • Backlog management and prioritization
  • Defining user stories and acceptance criteria
  • Ensuring value delivery to customers
  • Stakeholder management

What is a Product Manager?

A Product Manager (PMgr) is often considered a mini-CEO for a product. They define the why, what, and when of a product that the engineering team will build, aligned with the business strategy.

Key Responsibilities

  • Market research and customer needs analysis
  • Product strategy and roadmap planning
  • Overseeing the product life cycle
  • Go-to-market strategy

Key Differences


  • Project Managers focus on the 'how' and 'when,' ensuring that tasks are completed on time and within budget.
  • Product Owners are more concerned with the 'what,' focusing on delivering value via the product.
  • Product Managers think about the 'why' behind a product, seeking to understand the market and customer needs.


  • Project Managers often work with a broader scope, overseeing multiple aspects of an organization.
  • Product Owners are usually limited to the scope of one product or feature.
  • Product Managers may oversee multiple products or product lines, depending on the organization's size and structure.

Skill Sets

  • Project Managers often excel in organizational and leadership skills.
  • Product Owners are skilled in prioritization and stakeholder management.
  • Product Managers typically possess strong analytical skills, balancing business acumen with technical insight.

Which Role is Right for You?

Choosing between these roles will depend on your interests and skills:

  • If you enjoy planning and executing complex projects, a Project Manager role may suit you.
  • If you want to be deeply involved in product development, consider becoming a Product Owner.
  • If you’re passionate about market research and strategy, a Product Manager role might be the best fit.


The roles of Project Manager, Product Owner, and Product Manager may overlap in some aspects, but each has its own distinct set of responsibilities and required skills. Understanding these differences is vital for anyone involved in SaaS, whether you're looking to hire, transition roles, or simply gain a better understanding of your team’s structure.

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Armed with this knowledge, you're better prepared to make informed decisions that will contribute positively to your SaaS venture. Share this guide with your team to ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities better.

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