Product Manager vs Engineering Manager: Exploring the Division of Responsibilities in Product Development

by Viktor Mitrevski

7 min read

One of the key factors for success in the product and engineering teams (product-eng) is the effective collaboration and communication between the leadership of the team. 

The Engineering Manager (EM) and the Product Manager (PM) collaborate on a daily basis, and sometimes their responsibilities can overlap. That’s why the right split and distribution of responsibilities is really important so they can support and help each other and manage the expectations with the rest of the team and the stakeholders.  

Although each company is different, with different structures and processes, in the following paragraphs, we will list the most common responsibilities of Product Managers vs Engineering Managers in one tech organization. 

The Product Manager

Generally, the PM is responsible for driving the product strategy. Depending on the size and structure of the company, the PM's responsibilities can vary. PMs usually work with a team of Product Specialists (PS), Product Designers (PD), and Business Analysts (BA). 

Broadly speaking, PMs list of responsibilities includes constant communication with the stakeholders and the product-eng team, defining and aligning on the vision of the product and creating a product roadmap, monitoring the market and creating competitor analysis, and setting the right priority of the product features being built. 

Product Roadmap

A product roadmap outlines the product vision, priorities, and progress of a product over a period of time. One of the most important responsibilities of the PM is to create and maintain the product roadmap. Usually, it is recommended that the PM has prepared a roadmap that covers at least two quarters of the work in advance.

When creating the roadmap, the PM consults the EM so the product roadmap is realistic and it is based on the capacity and skills of the engineering team that the EM is leading.

When the product roadmap is completed, the PM needs to present it to the relevant stakeholders and the product-eng team. 

Priority of Features

The PM sets the priority of the product features that need to be developed based on the product vision, product roadmap, requirements, and expectations of the stakeholders. One of the key factors that the PM needs to consider when deciding on priority is which of the features will bring the most value to the product's end users.

Similarly, as with the product roadmap, when deciding on the priority, the PM needs to consult the EM so the prioritization is realistic based on the capacity and capability of the team. 

Product Backlog

The PM creates and maintains the Product Backlog: epics and user stories. This work is usually done together with the team around them: PA, BA, and PD.

Well-structured stories with all the needed details are key factors for the success of the team's delivery.

The PM has a crucial role during the grooming meetings of the team so they can answer all potential questions from the engineering team before the work goes into development. 

Communication and Presentation

A big part of the daily responsibilities of the PM includes constant communication with the team and the stakeholders. The PM communicates with the stakeholders in order to collect information about their vision of the product, present the plans and priorities, and get a green light for the product roadmap. 

Communication with the team usually consists of meetings that are part of the agile process, like grooming, sprint planning, and retrospectives, but the PM also sometimes joins the daily team meetings in order to check the progress of the team and to answer potential questions related to the product and the sprint. 

Sometimes the PM communicates with the end users, directly or indirectly, in order to collect feedback and improvement points. 

The Engineering Manager

The EM is responsible for the technical aspects of the product development process and the delivery of the engineering teams. Similarly, as with the PM, depending on the size and stage of the company, the responsibilities can vary, but generally, they include building and leading teams of software engineers, setting success metrics, conducting technical interviews, timely delivery of their teams, improving the happiness of the engineering team, setting technical strategy and technical vision for the team, communication with the PM and other stakeholders, etc. 

Technical Vision and Processes

As mentioned above, the EM is responsible for the technical vision and the technical design of the product. 

Depending on the size of the engineering team and engineering leadership in the organization, EMs create or participate in creating the technical architecture together with the Principal engineers or Software architects in the team. 

The EMs are also responsible for setting up the right development methodologies, the usage of modern technologies and frameworks, setting up the release process, and creating and maintaining technical documentation. 

Technical Delivery and Quality

One of the most important responsibilities of the EM is the technical delivery of the engineering team, the distribution, and the progress of the work. This responsibility usually starts from the sprint planning meeting and the moment when the stories are added to the sprint and distributed to the team members. 

In order to measure the progress and success of the engineering team, EMs set success metrics. Based on that, they suggest ideas to increase the team's productivity and improve the current processes.

Another really important aspect that needs to be mentioned here is the quality of the team’s output. EMs are also responsible for setting proper quality assurance strategies at each step of the development and deployment process. This part is done in cooperation with the Quality Assurance (QA) team. 

Mentoring Engineers

One of the favorite responsibilities of each EM is mentoring and growing the engineers that are part of their teams. This includes helping them find the right career engineering path, making plans and strategies for improving their technical and leadership skills, and helping them with the day-to-day technical challenges and potential communication issues. 

Capacity and Hiring 

And lastly, one of the most common responsibilities of the EMs includes making sure that the teams have the right capacity for the planned delivery and hiring additional engineers when needed. This also means setting up a hiring process that will be able to identify the candidates that have not only excellent technical skills but their personality and soft skills that are the right fit for the team and the organization in general. 

Suppose you are creating a new product that requires additional work hours beyond your core team's capacity. Instead of burdening your existing full-time developers, a viable solution is to engage independent contractors on a temporary basis to assist in the development of the new product. Talent networks such as Adeva provide a platform where every tech talent is rigorously screened for both technical and communication proficiencies, giving you access to top-notch talent. The hiring process is swift, with a turnaround time of fewer than two weeks, and you can easily adjust the scale of the workforce as needed.


As we can see, both EM and PM roles are crucial for the overall success of the product-eng team and for achieving business goals. The distribution of their responsibilities is important and can be done in a proper way by setting up proper job descriptions and lists of responsibilities in advance. 

Setting the right expectations from the beginning helps them and their work, their teams, and the stakeholders.

Viktor Mitrevski
Viktor Mitrevski
Senior Engineering Leader and Technical Advisor

Victor is a highly motivated engineering leader with a strong passion for building, scaling, and mentoring engineering teams. With over 16 years of experience, he has progressed through various software engineering leadership roles, overseeing teams of 40 to 120 engineers distributed across multiple countries.

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