Project vs Product Management

Managing a product like it were a project and vice versa is a widespread management mistake, and you shouldn’t be ashamed if you’ve done so before. However, you should be ashamed if – after noticing the astounding differences – you continue to do so.

Project and product management may have a few similarities, but we’ll focus on the differences here to help you make informed decisions when choosing your management methods.

Project and product management: where are the differences?

For starters, let’s consider the definition of a project: to begin with, projects will always have a distinctive beginning, middle, and end – the end of a project being determined by achieving – or failing to – the determined goals.

When working on a project, you’re assigned a determined set of resources you’ll be able to use to complete it. You’ll also have a well-defined goal, to begin with – this is what’ll determine if the project itself was successful: if the project achieves the goal, it was successful; if not, it wasn’t.

Product management, however, is much more subjective. It’s about discovery and cyclic work than working with defined timeframes and goals. Managing a product is not a process with a beginning, middle or end – it’s a cycle or, better yet, a series of cycles of iteration, feedback, and deployments. The cycles within product management will cover many aspects, such as discovering the customer’s needs, experimentation, testing, development, and update deploys.

As an iterative process, managing a product is not a linear process as a project is – you have the opportunity and are constantly encouraged to look back and make changes whenever they make themselves necessary. Prioritizing features is not set in stone and, if circumstances make it necessary, you’re able to reprioritize them whenever you need.

You’re actually encouraged to reevaluate through all phases of product management – who’s never prioritized a certain feature only to figure out, after further investigation, it’s not that much of a priority after all? Circumstances are constantly changing, and you have to be able to reorder your priorities to adapt.

When working on a project, you’ll most likely have defined dates for all specific phases of it – it’s quite different with product management. Even though higher management and most of our stakeholders would love those long-term product roadmap items to have a due date, it doesn’t quite work like that.

We said above about changing priorities also goes for product management dates – too much can – and most likely will – change along the road. You’ll also learn and introduce new facts down the line – what may cause more changes – so don’t get yourself too attached to deadlines and due dates here.

How can I properly manage my projects and products?

It’s safe to say that attempting to manage a product like it were a project will only lead to disappointment for all its possible variables. Product management is not a neatly arranged set of tasks completed with determined resources on determined dates.

Thinks won’t necessarily move from left to right without skipping one or two steps, going backward, or even adding new steps along the way. For this reason, any tool you decide to use for managing products should allow for non-linear processes. At Pipefy, we offer you the possibility of adding as many action buttons as you deem necessary to your phases, allowing your tasks cards to be moved wherever you feel like they should be.

This doesn’t necessarily mean a task manager and/or project management tools can’t also be used for specific product management phases. Within Pipefy, for example, you can use our product roadmap template for the non-linear movements and feature prioritizing. Whenever a feature is set for development – consequently being given a defined goal, resources, and timeline – you can open a software development card through a connection.


Manage your projects and products with Pipefy!

For all the reasons stated above, Pipefy is a great tool for both project and product management. Being flexible and customizable allows for adaptations to your management processes whenever you feel they’re necessary.

Try our free Product Roadmap and Agile Software Development templates and choose to manage your projects and products in a dynamic and intuitive tool.

Written by
Isabelle Wuilleumier Salemme
Head of Customer Support @Pipefy. She uses her extensive Pipefy knowledge to help users make the best of Pipefy via support and writing informative content pieces. Besides being in charge of support, she's an avid reader, a coffee lover, and a professional photographer.

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