It’s common for the government to consider “project manager” and “product manager” as interchangeable roles, but it’s time for government service innovators to insist on the distinction, according to the U.S. Digital Service.
While project managers take care of stakeholders’ concerns such as schedules and budgets, product managers focus on making sure the product will help actual users, preventing large projects from big failures later on. As government moves toward more innovative IT, attracting product managers who bring experience in human-centered design, user research, and performance metrics will be important to success.
From the article:
Because government outsources most of its information technology development, partnering with vendors who understand the difference between project and product management is critical. In order for this outsourced model to work, government must have a lean team of in-house digital experts and product managers to help procure, oversee, and deliver modern, user-friendly products to users.