Most of the people that I get to work with are clients who are transitioning from their previous ways of working which we tend to refer to as a waterfall or traditional project environment.

Typically in a traditional working environment there are usually a lot of Project Managers working simultaneously due to the way they approach change, product delivery and product development.

When moving to an Agile way of working however, you might not need as many project managers anymore and instead project managers usually translate and transition into a different kind of role such as a Scrum Master or Product Owner.

The Differences Between a Project Manager and a Product Owner

Although both Project Managers and Product Owners are concerned with managing and supervising projects from start to finish, they do so in slightly different ways. For example, even though Product Owners work in similar ways to a Traditional and Agile Project Manage, a Product Owner works specifically in a Scrum Environment.

The role and responsibility of a Product Owner is aimed at:  

🚀 Maximising the value of the product.

🚀 Supporting and facilitating the Development Team.  

Unlike a Product Owner, Project Managers are concerned with:  

🚀 Delivering products in a set timeframe.

🚀 Exercising complete authority and responsibility.  

Whereas, Product Owners:

🚀 Are concerned that the right product is built rather than meeting tight deadlines.
🚀 Foster and support a team environment through collaboration and continual feedback looping. 🚀

Ensure the highest possible product quality and value is achieved.

So Then, How Difficult is it to Transition from a Project Manager to a Product Owner?

When people ask me how difficult it is to transition from being a Project Manager to a Product Owner, I always find this to be a tricky question to ask because it’s a bit like asking how tricky it is to become a Plumber after being a Project Manager; they’re very different skill sets. And so instead of thinking about all the differences, I rather recommend to think about all the similarities and focus on how we can leverage those similarities into new and awesome ways of working.

For example, the similarities you may identify between Product Owners and Project Managers are soft skills such as handlingStakeholders, discussing scope, and reviewing product development. Both Product Owners and Project Managers are involved in these processes to a certain extent, but I guess what sets Products Owners apart is that they take it a step further by not only taking on all the responsibility by themselves when collaborating with Stakeholders but rather they keep the entire team in the loop as to ensure that everyone is aligned and maximising the value they bring to the table.

This is at the very basic level of what Product Owners do in comparison to Project Managers. The more challenging part comes in when scope negotiations begin, and the Scrum Team starts to identify risks or glitches. How we respond to such challenges is quite different to the traditional project management environment, and thus requires those who come from a traditional environment to make some tweaks from a predictable process to a more complex and unpredictable one.  

This will require:
🚀 A keen eye for detail.
🚀 Flexible and open-minded approach.

🚀 Collaboration, transparency, and adaptation.

🚀 A student approach to learning new ways of working.  

In the beginning it may be difficult to adjust to all these changes, particularly when dealing with more complex problems. However, I can assure you that if you approach this transition with a positive outlook instead of looking at what you may be lacking, you already have the right foot in the door.  

Are you interested in becoming a Product Owner?  Get in touch today and let’s work together on your journey to success!  

Pragmatic Shift is a Scrum Training, Agile Consulting, and Agile Coaching consultancy that specialises in delivering Scrum.Org certified scrum courses, and helping organisations increase their business agility and product development success through agile consulting and coaching.  

We firmly believe that a shift to agile is a pragmatic shift. A natural evolution from traditional project management and product management. A proven, reliable, and resilient framework for addressing compelling problems and developing complex solutions.  

Over a decade’s worth of experience as an agile practitioner, agile consultant, agile coach, and scrum trainer informs our pragmatic approach to change. Agile dogma has no value in the context of product development or organisational change.  

Instead, we look to start where you are, work with what you have, and make meaningful interventions that align with the objectives you are trying to achieve.   Progress over perfection.  

If this sounds like a pragmatic solution to you, visit the following pages for more information.  

Scrum Training:  

Agile Consulting: Coming Soon!  

Agile Coaching:  

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