August 2: What’s the difference: Product Manager versus Program Manager

Using the Amazon Kindle as an example to understand the differences between product managers and program managers.

Source: Fact of the Day 1 interview with Dave Anderson
Published: July 2021

What’s the difference: Product Manager versus Program Manager

A product is something created to provide value to customers; it is a collection of features.

A program is an ongoing effort to achieve an outcome; it is a collection of projects.

Example*: Amazon Kindle

Product Manager: Owns the Kindle eReader device at Amazon.
Program Manager: Owns increasing non-fiction book sales globally on Amazon.

Product Manager: Writes requirements to improve non-fiction books on eReaders.
Program Manager: Works with many product managers to improve non-fiction book sales.

Product Manager: Builds a roadmap accomplishing many things for the Kindle eReader. (e.g., extended battery life, easier to read display)
Program Manager: Builds a roadmap across many products to improve non-fiction book sales. (e.g., Amazon Mobile App, Kindle Direct Publishing)

Product Manager: Intersects customer wants and business needs.
Program Manager: Intersects business needs and resource constraints.

Product Manager: Answers "why" and "what".
Program Manager: Answers "how" and "when".

*Reality check: role responsibilities change drastically based on the situation, employees involved, and the company.

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