To the question about what project management is, you could easily receive dozens of different answers like it was with Brian Tworetzky.
The reason, which lies behind is that the project manager is responsible for the cross-division communication, for the relationship within the project team, for ping-pong of the information from the client to the software developers and back, and, finally for the general project success.
What is the difference between the project manager and the product manager, if any?
The duties of the product manager are to sculpture the product. And to workout, how the product should look, what features it should have, we need to do the research, investigating the user’s wishes. It can be a focus group, or questionnaire, or blind testing to compare the features with competitor’s products. As a result, the product manager will see what features needed and will design the product, or modify it. For consumer goods, like juice or fans, it’s rather simple.
But with IT products, such research becomes very complicated. And now we have come close to the product and project management differences. If the designed software is rather simple, like a mobile version of your website, or MVP (minimum valuable product) for the market test of your business idea, there is no strict difference. The process can be done within one project. And in this particular case, we can say that project and product manager duties are equal.
But when we are speaking about the development of software systems for biotech engineering, where several ML models need to be used. For example, one to be integrated for working with genome modeling, another one is for GMO optimization, and the next one for COVID vaccine development.
Each of these products needs a separate product manager, and several project managers will be in his subordination. Each project manager will be responsible for several projects, like working with ML modeling; organization of deep learning networks, or managing the designer team.
In the case of another business task, different structuring can be used. One project manager has several project managers under him/her, to work out the customer’s order. One product manager will be responsible for GMOs, another one – for artificial biosynthesis, etc.
There is no one-fit-all solution. That is why we have these substitutions PM vs PM. And the same abbreviation brings even more confusion.
Several thoughts about PM tools for project management. There are a lot of project management tools available to help organize the team communication, monitor the staff working pressure, and to overcome discrepancies, which often appear with the programming/compilation/test process. These tools help managers to organize and assign tasks, keep track of the project progress, recognize the critical bottlenecks, and much more.
The most popular project management tools include Trello, Asana, Basecamp, YouTrack, and many others. Additionally, the IT team needs the communication tool, my favorite is Slack, but Microsoft Teams, ProofHub, Pont, Zoom can be an option as well as many others.