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product owner vs. Development Manager: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

In the business world, there are many different types of managers. Two common positions are that of a product owner and development manager. Though both roles are important in the success of a company, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between a product owner and development manager, and we provide additional information on what each position entails.

What is a Product Owner?

A product owner is a key role in product development and management. They are responsible for representing the interests of the stakeholders, setting the vision and direction for the product, and defining and prioritizing the product backlog. The product owner works with the development team to ensure that the product is built to meet the stakeholders’ needs and is aligned with the product strategy. They also work with other stakeholders, such as marketing, sales, and support, to ensure that the product meets their needs as well.

What is a Development Manager?

Development Managers are responsible for leading and coordinating the software development team in order to complete projects on time and within budget. They work closely with the product owner to ensure that the development team understands the product vision and can translate it into a reality. Development Managers also work with other departments, such as marketing, sales, and customer support, to ensure that the development team is aware of their needs and can incorporate them into the product. In addition, Development Managers are responsible for hiring and training new software developers, as well as managing the performance of the development team.

Product Owner vs. Development Manager

Here are the main differences between a product owner and a development manager.

Job Duties

Product owners and development managers share some of their job duties, but there are differences between the two roles. A product owner’s primary job duty is to gather customer requirements. They do this by conducting research, talking to customers and stakeholders and using other research methods.

Product owners also define a product’s vision and make decisions about which features to build. In addition, they communicate with teams to ensure that they understand the product’s goals and can meet the product’s deadlines.

Development managers oversee the entire development process. They provide input on the product owner’s decisions and give direction when needed. Development managers also create project plans, monitor progress and report metrics.

Job Requirements

Product owners and development managers typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering or another related field. They also need experience working in software development, which they can gain through internships or entry-level positions. Some product owners and development managers pursue master’s degrees as well to improve their chances of landing a job. Additionally, many organizations prefer candidates who are certified in project management, such as those who have earned a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Work Environment

Product owners and development managers typically work in different environments. Development managers usually work in an office setting, while product owners may travel to meet with clients or attend conferences. They also spend time working on the job site where their team is located.

Product owners often have more flexibility in their schedules than development managers because they don’t need to be present for every project meeting. However, both positions require a lot of attention to detail and long hours when necessary.


Development managers and product owners share some skills, such as the ability to think strategically, lead teams and make decisions. However, they also have different skill sets that are necessary for their respective jobs.

Development managers need to be able to plan and execute projects, which requires strong organizational skills. They also need to be able to motivate and manage teams of developers, which necessitates excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Additionally, development managers need to have a deep understanding of software development processes and methodologies.

Product owners, on the other hand, need to be able to understand the needs of customers and stakeholders and translate those needs into requirements for the development team. They also need to be able to prioritize features and functionality, which requires strong decision-making skills. Additionally, product owners need to be able to communicate effectively with both the development team and stakeholders.


The average salary for a product owner is $108,042 per year, while the average salary for a development manager is $75,443 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the size of the company, the location of the job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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