Defining Product Management: Breaking the Role Overlap (Part 4 of 5)

“I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose = words in their best order; – poetry = the best words in the best order.”  – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

There is the assumption that “an economy of words” prevents confusion and misunderstanding. Therefore, we are going to attempt to clear, concise, and direct about the three functions at hand: product management, project and program management, and business analysis.

Role Overlap

Product management is concerned with the lifecycle management of a product (or application or service). Over the course of a product lifecycle, there will be one or more projects which are executed on behalf of the product.

Project management is concerned with the lifecycle management of a project. Within a project, there are multiple phases of activities While a project may cross multiple product boundaries, the project does not equal the product.

Program management is concerned with the lifecycle management of a program. A program is made up of more than one related project, and while it may cross multiple product boundaries, the program is concerned with its shared goals, and does not equal the product.

Business analysis is a function that is executed within projects and/or programs. “Business analysis” is a misnomer, the analysis functions performed can be both business and system-related. Either way, it is a service necessary for the success of a project and/or program.

One of the concerns that is sometime raised when there is clear role definitions of the what a role “should not do” is where is the room for growth, individuality, and challenge? Where is the creativity within those limitations? Where’s the personal status and ‘prestige’? That can be derived from how this structure is implemented and the culture of the organization itself.

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