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What do program management roles require?

Program managers must have strong project management skills to keep track of launches from inception to delivery. They create new processes where necessary, fine-tune mechanisms to optimize delivery, and break down silos that impede progress. Program managers develop detailed launch plans that include buffers for all contingencies. If there are blockers to the teams delivering the project, program managers need to communicate across organizations to find a path forward.

What do product management roles require?

Product managers also need to have program management skills. However, they are less focused on the day-to-day operations of the teams delivering the project and more focused on engaging customers to develop and set a product vision. A product manager is responsible for defining a product roadmap and creating a multi-year product strategy. They provide visibility to the product's success and failures through detailed leadership updates. As a result, a product manager also keeps track of the team's progress and finds paths to unblock the delivery teams.

Are product manager or program manager roles better?

People who are more operationally inclined, i.e., people who like creating and refining processes, typically enjoy program management roles. On the other hand, people who enjoy more strategic roles, where they get to shape the course of a product, end up pursuing product management. If you want to own and build your organization's future, a product management role will help you display your strategic vision and big-picture thinking skills. A program manager can become a product manager since both jobs need strong project management skills. A program manager only needs to display the ability to work with customers and the ability to set a product vision for demonstrating their product management chops. You can do this by shadowing product managers in your team/organization and volunteering on product management projects to build your credentials.

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