Product Manager: Alternatives for the Role

Traditional Agile organizations often combine the Product Owner and Product Manager roles into a single role that they call “Product Owner.” Lean-Agile divides these two roles to reduce complexity and to resolve conflicting interests that exist between the two roles. Thus, we do not recommend a classic Agile Product Owner-only approach.

The Product Manager role and the Product Owner role wear different “hats.” Both are concerned with business value, but the PM is primarily focused on those who determine business value and strategy; that is, strategic thinkers such as Business Sponsors and Owners. The Product Owner is primarily focused on the teams who will be implementing the value. It is difficult for one person to “swap hats” in a disciplined way every time the perspective of one role or the other is needed.

These and many other factors combine to make it counterproductive to combine the Product Manager and Product Owner roles.

In some organizations, the Product Manager role is called the “Business Product Owner” to recognize that it is responsible for the Business aspects of the product.