Out of the hundreds of Job titles that revolve around Product Management – the job role of a Product Manager is most confusing. It is associated with a myriad of tasks of management, including technical and complicated ones that need specialization, like engineering.
As a layman, you would consider the product manager and Product engineer as one duty, but only as a professional; you can understand the key differences between both the job titles.
A product manager is involved in the management of the product, whereas a product engineer is involved in the development of the product, which is more of a technical job. The product manager manages the development process but does not get into the operational field of product engineering.
Key responsibilities of a Product Manager and Product Engineer:
A product manager is mainly responsible for making the product alive by understanding the needs of the stakeholders, indulging in management at all levels, and communicating effectively with everyone. Whereas the business role of a Product engineer is technology-based with a very low responsibility for the overall success of the product. The focus is on business and user-need solutions.
- Product Manager is responsible for the decision-making of the product, whereas product engineers have a thorough know-how of the technical jargon, challenges, and trends, and how to include them into the roadmap and implement the innovations.
- Product engineers educate and train the team on the working of various tech-related processes and products, and the Product Manager makes it possible.
- Product engineers are responsible for creating technical solutions for the product life cycle. They develop the product and drive its vision, eventually assisting the Product managers in enhancing the value of the product.
- Engineers use technical skills for Planning and Prioritizing how the product is built, adequately assess the risk, time frame set for story mapping. They are the narrow specialists who can talk to the development team more lucidly and in detail.
- Managers use skills to minimize the communication gap between their engineering staff and the rest of the whole world, like sales, marketers, etc., including the customer.
- The product manager owns the product roadmap and is responsible for defining, in detail, the “why” in Product Management jobs, whereas engineers are about the “what” of the product.
- Managers bring the product to life alongside the rest of the departments, and an engineer can use his tech skills to improve the business role. Both contribute to the ultimate goal.
Let us look at the differences between the job role of a Product Manager and Product Engineer:
Various aspects that can be distinguished are:
Product and Technical Vision
The product manager is responsible for setting a product vision and strategy, understand the business values & intent of the new product, and strategize the roadmap.
The engineering manager drives the architectural vision and technical strategy of the company and the product. He designs solutions and suggests alternative approaches.
Product and Technical Expertise
The product manager facilitates effective communication between the team and the stakeholders. He is the master of the product. He supports the development team and ensures that they are building the right product at the right time. He supervises the non-technical organization and should be is accountable for the holistic success of the whole product experience.
The engineering manager is a technical lead for technical decisions and solutions. He should be aware of the latest technological advancements and must incorporate the same in his product building. The onus to successfully plan, implement and monitor the success of complex technical projects lies with the product engineer
Direct and Indirect Management
The product manager is like the CEO of the product, as he looks after the decision-making process, leads a cross-functional team of leaders, and is responsible for delivering a great product experience, ensuring the organization can market, sell, and support it.
The engineering manager must directly manage a team of engineers. His job revolves around supporting the goals and opportunities for the engineering staff, providing coaching and mentoring, and reviewing each engineer’s progress.
A great product manager leads the vision and roadmap while helping a cross-functional team. A great engineering manager contributes to product strategy and helps develop his team.
How Product Managers can co-exist with Product engineers
Product Managers can co-exist peacefully with Product Engineers, taking the product to great heights and eventually benefit the organization. These jobs are two strings of the same Product and need to stay firm and focused on making it a successful launch.
For the same reason, both the professionals need to complement each other’s work and assist each other for the success of the product:
1. Area of expertise:
The product manager should not interfere with the technical solution as it is not his area of expertise. The real experts are in the product engineering team, and the product manager should respect that. After the technical part is closed, the product should be handed over to the product manager to take it further, after which the role of the product engineer is over.
The product manager should involve engineers in conversations with customers and users. He would need the engineers to assist and educate them about the product and solve their problems.
The product manager needs to make data-driven decisions. He can use data from product access and usage, or from customer and user conversations, and use it to make decisions and percolate it to the team.
The Product Manager is mainly responsible for achieving the business objective and promote the product to the end-users. The expertise and knowledge of product engineers also need to be taken into consideration as they are the best people to answer questions on the technicalities of the product.
5. Strategic interaction:
Critical interaction between Product Managers and product engineers is a must. During the development process of the product, there could be doubts or a need to take strategic decisions that can only be handled by a product manager. In his absence, the product engineering team could implement their own decisions, and it may differ from the planned strategy.
6. Constructive feedback:
Product managers must constantly provide feedback about the product to the engineering team. The product manager knows about the accessibility and availability of the product, keeps a tab on the customer feedback regarding its usage, and focuses on how the product is beneficial to the company or what the users really think about it. Sharing the same with the Product Engineer is imperative to provide context and purpose to the team.
The product manager must negotiate the rewriting and maintenance stories. Product engineer jobs not only deal with hardware engineering but also with software practices. The manager must encourage them to use the latest software applications and work towards the evolution and enhancement of the product following the latest trends.
Finally, Product engineering and Product management are one team, and there is no superior or subordinate relationship between the two. Working together, product and engineering managers can create a development environment and product planning for success. They should function and perform as partners, collaborate with each other with their own expertise and responsibility, and produce the best product possible.