Sunday, August 03, 2014

Product vs Program vs Project Management. What is the difference?

There seems to be continuous confusion about what is the different between product/program/project management and how these roles differ from each others in term of roles and responsibilities. 

As such there is no well defined rules for creating these roles and many companies are doing it their own way in term of division of labor. But good teams make things work regardless of the confusion in title and responsibility overlap.

Per PMBOK, Programs are Ongoing vs. Projects have a Beginning, a Middle, and an End
Programs usually span a far greater duration than a project. A project might be part of a program – often you hear people say that Program Management involves managing several projects. This might seem like a subjective difference. However, managing a program always involves long term strategic planning that’s not required of a project.

Program management involve governance and more involve in companies profit and loss responsibilities. Project manager on the other hand is not responsible for P&L and has a fixed allotted budget. Project managers are responsible for the day to day, week to week tasks, within a program

Product Management Provides Direction for Program and Project Management
Product managers ensure that program and project managers are executing the right thing.
Product managers are responsible for planning the why and high level how for a product. 
Product management must provide strategy, judgement as well as help in execution.
Good product managers drive customer-relevant decision with continuous feedback from customer and market research.

Product manager are responsible for more outward facing market visible decision:
For example: What features market segment  demanding? which must ship feature we should drop first? How we are positioned and price versus competitors, sales impact of slip dates?

Program/Project Management are more inward facing resource allocation decision
For example: How should we get this done? Have we defined and met quality goal? What outside resource could speed things up? When will it actually ship?

What is the common problem and difference in viewpoint?
Product management: Not so much worries about delivery and quality
Program/Project Management: Not so worries about market success

For success of the product or company, all three functions: Product management, program management and project should communicate openly and frequently. A good way to achieve this is by:
1. Cross Functional Communication and Cooperation
2. Top Management Involvement and Support

No comments: