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Product Manager and Product Owner in the Scrum environment – same or different ?

What is the difference between a Product Owner and a Product Manager ? Well, for most people in the Scrum process, these are roles which are played by the same person. This is especially true for projects where the team size is not very large, and where the entire project is done by one Scrum team. Does the difference between the term “Product Manager”, or “Product Owner” really matter ? Well, it can start mattering as you go to different organizations, especially where the Organization starts getting into details of the differences in the definition of the 2 roles. So, let me try and explain my viewpoint on how the 2 roles differ, and why this can actually matter sometimes ?
The role of a Product Manager is one who is supposed to be the living voice of the customer, representing the interests of the customer. The Product Manager is focused on understanding the stated and unstated needs of the customer, getting in touch with customer groups, doing surveys to understand the customer, etc. The Product Manager typically spends a lot of time analysing the competition, seeing the features that are necessary for the success of the product, and figuring out the workflow in which they should fit within the application. Typically, the Product Manager is not all that conversant with the details of the development processes.
The role of the Product Owner may seem very similar to the role of the Product Manager as defined above, but there are some differences. These differences can be apparent when somebody is being hired, since the experience of a person can be different, and more fitting in with one type of role than the other.
The Product Owner also represents the interests of the customer, but the role is more inward facing (more oriented towards the development team) rather than the Product Manager. The Product Owner works much more closely with the Scrum team, being available to answer queries, detail through the user stories, maintain the product backlog, and is an integral part of the Scrum development methodology. The major difference is in terms of the time that the Product Owner spends with the Scrum team.
These roles can be the same, or can differ in an organization that focuses on separating out the functions of working with the team vs. interacting with customers.

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