The Better Work Project: Product Management

12 June

What is the difference between the roles of the Product Manager, the Product Owner and the Business Analyst, and who does what? In this podcast we delve into the world of product management and discuss how we best combine skills and experience to create value.




  • ICAgile has just released a new product management certification.
  • The term Product Manager has been around since the 1930s. 
  • Product Managers are the eye of the hurricane.
  • Product Managers own the vision and strategy for the product, understand the market needs, customer feedback, competitor positioning, develop product roadmaps aligned to organisational strategy, and manage the success of products.
  • Product Managers can often be product evangelists. Sometimes that can be good, other times not. It’s easy to lose objectivity, that can mean that you lose the ability to pivot.
  • The Business Analyst is often like a Product Manager without the P&L management. The Business Analyst has to understand the need, competitive offering, the organisation, and work with those building the product and those using the product. They don’t have to worry about what is saleable.
  • A Product Manager is responsible for the P&L and can deal with complex business decisions.
  • The nuance is a scale question and depends on what hat the person is using. 
  • Smaller companies may need people to wear multiple hats. There’s theoretical best practice and the messiness of the real world.
  • BA’s can feel distain for the Product Manager role.
  • A lot of agile is built around SCRUM and the roles that sit around the Dev team, ScrumMaster and Product Owner, so some believe the role of the BA isn’t needed.  But SCRUM doesn’t preclude a BA.
  • The BA can become the order taker, but that isn’t the intent behind the agile philosophy.
  • The Product Owner can be very focussed on the activities within the sprint. This can mean creation of value and future discussions can be challenging. That’s often where additional roles can come into play. One of the challenges is the idealised world of what we should be doing and then the real world view of capabilities and what we can do.
  • A lot of Product Managers are bought into the role without having the experience and training.
  • Value definition becomes a key success element. It’s important to understand and accept what is creating value beyond your product bias.
  • Systems thinking is important. Product Owners, Business Analysts and Project Managers need to see how all the parts sit together.
  • We want everything to be a framework or position – in reality it’s a skills issue based on the changing world of work.
  • Complexity means value has to be number one.
  • We need to do less and do it better.