In this model, product responsibilities are split between two people both from the business area. One person is the Product Manager and focuses on market/customer concerns (more strategic, more external) and another person spends the majority of their time with the delivery team, so they are more product and development focused. (more tactical, more internal).
A key difference between this model and the third model is that the Product Manager and Product Owner both “sit” in the business unit, whether that’s a business unit who owns the process that an internal product supports or whether it’s a product management organization.
The key for making this model work is the product manager and product owner are closely aligned on the work that is supposed to happen and the aim of the product. There also needs to be clear understanding about who can make what type of decisions and trust that the product owner will accurately represent the product manager’s view point and plans for the product in their interactions with the delivery team.
In this model the product owner may often be viewed as the junior position to the product manager, and there may even be a career path from product owner to product manager.
The product manager owns establishing a roadmap and generally talks about features and benefits, while the product owner is responsible for implementing items on the backlog and talks a little about features but is generally dealing with user stories.
Product Manager is responsible for:
- Setting Roadmap
- Global Prioritization
Product Owner is responsible for:
- Local Prioritization
- Story Writing
- Story Clarification
In a product company I worked with, there is a product management organization with both product managers and product owners separate from engineering. The product managers focused on the market, interacting with customers, and prioritizing features. The product owners spent most of their time interacting with the delivery teams. There is an implied career progression going from product owner to product manager. When the organization switched to agile, they were short on product owners, so this gap was filled either through hiring some product brought some over from engineering and hired some from the outside. The ones hired from the outside were familiar with agile approaches, but not so much the product. Which caused some issues.
In an internal product situation, the person sitting in the Product manager type role (probably better labeled as business leader) was the manager of the area that work was being done. Then depending on the focus of a certain part of the project, a Product Owner was pulled from that business leader’s staff as the product owner. They were able to make a few decisions, but were there mostly for detailed information and to answer questions.
Basically, the business lead didn’t have the time to spend with the team, so she delegated that responsibility to someone who could.
When to Use It
When the product is big enough to support both roles such that having one person doing both roles means something will suffer.
When your development team adopts scrum and expects that they will have continuous access to a product person.
When the team is new to the domain and is not equipped with the sufficient knowledge or information to make day to day decisions about the product. (Or if they do make those types of decisions, there can be major repercussions for the product.)
When multiple teams are involved in supporting the product which means you may have one product owner per team, all working with one (or more) product managers
Pros of the Model
The product manager can be outward looking to the customer/market, while the product owner is available to the dev team to resolve issues.
Cons of the Model
- The product manager must still OWN product ownership.
- The product owner must be in service to both the product manager and the development team.
- Communication issues can result. The Product Manager can overrule product owner decisions, and the development team may not benefit from one single source of truth that they seek.
- Toes can be stepped on if the product owner prefers to spend their time with customers and product managers prefer to dive into the weeds with the team. (The simple thing here may be to switch roles, but there may be difficulties involved if Product Manager is seen as a higher ranking job than product owner.