Business Design
December 5, 2023

Business Designer vs Product Manager: Key Responsibilities, Differences, and Similarities

Discover the distinct roles and responsibilities of a business designer and a product manager, and explore the key differences and similarities between these two crucial positions.

Roald Larsen

In today's fast-paced, dynamic world of business, roles and responsibilities are constantly evolving. Two roles that have gained significant prominence in recent years are those of the Business Designer and the Product Manager. While there may be some overlap in their responsibilities, it is essential to understand the key differences between these two roles. In this article, we will delve deeper into the intricacies of each role, their key responsibilities, and explore the similarities and differences between them.

Understanding the Roles: Business Designer and Product Manager

Defining the Role of a Business Designer

A Business Designer is a professional who combines the principles of design thinking with business strategy. Their primary goal is to create innovative business solutions that meet customer needs while ensuring business viability. Business Designers analyze market trends, identify opportunities, and collaborate with various stakeholders to develop strategies that drive growth and profit.

Business Designers work closely with cross-functional teams, including designers, researchers, engineers, and marketers, to create solutions that not only address customers' pain points but also align with the organization's overall objectives.

When it comes to analyzing market trends, Business Designers dive deep into consumer behavior, studying their preferences, habits, and pain points. They conduct extensive research, utilizing data from various sources such as surveys, interviews, and market reports. This detailed analysis helps them identify emerging trends and opportunities for innovation.

Once they have identified these opportunities, Business Designers collaborate with stakeholders from different departments to develop strategies that drive growth and profit. They facilitate brainstorming sessions, encouraging diverse perspectives and ideas. Through this collaborative process, Business Designers ensure that the strategies they develop are not only innovative but also feasible and aligned with the organization's resources and capabilities.

Furthermore, Business Designers are skilled in visual communication. They use design thinking principles to create visual representations of their ideas, such as user journey maps, service blueprints, and concept sketches. These visual tools help stakeholders better understand and visualize the proposed solutions, fostering alignment and buy-in.

Defining the Role of a Product Manager

A Product Manager, on the other hand, is responsible for the ideation, development, and launch of a product or service. They bridge the gap between the business objectives and customer needs, ensuring that the product meets both market demand and profitability goals. Product Managers typically work with engineering teams, designers, marketers, and other stakeholders to drive the product development process from conception to release.

Product Managers conduct extensive market research, gather customer feedback, and work closely with internal teams to define product requirements, prioritize features, and create a roadmap that aligns with the business strategy.

When it comes to market research, Product Managers go beyond analyzing trends and customer preferences. They delve into competitive analysis, studying the strengths and weaknesses of existing products in the market. This analysis helps them identify gaps and opportunities where their product can stand out and provide unique value to customers.

Product Managers also play a crucial role in gathering customer feedback. They conduct user interviews, usability tests, and surveys to understand how customers interact with the product and identify areas for improvement. This feedback-driven approach ensures that the product is continuously refined and tailored to meet customer needs.

Throughout the product development process, Product Managers collaborate closely with cross-functional teams. They work with designers to create intuitive and user-friendly interfaces, engineers to ensure technical feasibility, and marketers to develop effective go-to-market strategies. This collaborative approach ensures that the product not only meets customer needs but also aligns with the organization's capabilities and resources.

Furthermore, Product Managers are responsible for creating a roadmap that outlines the product's future direction. They prioritize features based on customer needs, business objectives, and technical feasibility. This roadmap serves as a guide for the development team, ensuring that their efforts are aligned with the overall product strategy.

Key Responsibilities of a Business Designer and Product Manager

Responsibilities of a Business Designer

At the core of a Business Designer's responsibilities is the task of understanding and empathizing with customers. They conduct user research and use human-centered design principles to identify pain points, generate insights, and develop innovative solutions.

Business Designers are skilled in crafting customer journeys, mapping out user experiences, and prototyping concepts. They also play a crucial role in facilitating workshops, collaborating with stakeholders, and aligning business objectives with the needs of both customers and end-users.

One important aspect of a Business Designer's role is conducting in-depth interviews with customers to gain a deep understanding of their needs, desires, and pain points. By immersing themselves in the customer's world, Business Designers can uncover valuable insights that can drive the creation of innovative solutions.

In addition to their research and design skills, Business Designers also possess strong analytical abilities. They are adept at analyzing data and market trends to identify emerging opportunities and potential threats. This allows them to make informed decisions and develop strategies that align with the overall business objectives.

Responsibilities of a Product Manager

Product Managers have a broad range of responsibilities that span across the entire product lifecycle. They are responsible for defining product vision, strategy, and roadmap. They work closely with cross-functional teams to ensure that the product is developed within budget, on time, and meets set quality standards.

Product Managers conduct continuous market analysis, monitor trends, and gather customer feedback to identify new opportunities or challenges. They define product requirements, prioritize features, and create a compelling value proposition for the target market.

Another crucial aspect of a Product Manager's role is managing the product backlog. They work closely with the development team to prioritize and sequence the product backlog items based on business value and customer needs. This ensures that the most important features are delivered first and that the product evolves in line with market demands.

Furthermore, Product Managers are responsible for defining and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of the product. They analyze data and metrics to evaluate the product's performance, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to optimize the product strategy.

The Intersection: Where Business Designers and Product Managers Collaborate

While Business Designers and Product Managers have distinct roles, there is a significant intersection where collaboration is vital. Both roles require a deep understanding of customers, as well as the ability to empathize with their pain points and frustrations.

Business Designers and Product Managers often collaborate on market research and user testing to validate concepts and ensure that the product or service addresses real customer needs. They work together to iterate and refine the product until it meets customer expectations and achieves business goals.

At the intersection of Business Designers and Product Managers, a dynamic exchange of ideas takes place. This collaboration goes beyond the surface-level understanding of customers and delves into the intricacies of their behaviors, motivations, and desires. By combining their expertise, Business Designers and Product Managers create a holistic view of the customer, allowing them to develop products that truly resonate.

One aspect of collaboration at the intersection is the joint analysis of market trends and user feedback. Business Designers bring their knowledge of market dynamics, competitive landscape, and industry trends, while Product Managers provide insights into user preferences, pain points, and emerging needs. Together, they identify opportunities for innovation and growth, ensuring that the product remains relevant in a rapidly evolving market.

Another crucial aspect of collaboration is the co-creation of user personas and customer journey maps. Business Designers and Product Managers work hand in hand to develop detailed profiles of target customers, capturing their demographics, behaviors, and goals. By understanding the customer journey from start to finish, they can identify pain points and moments of delight, enabling them to design products that address these specific touchpoints.

Collaboration at the intersection also involves constant communication and feedback loops. Business Designers and Product Managers engage in regular meetings, brainstorming sessions, and workshops to align their visions and ensure that the product is on track. They exchange ideas, challenge assumptions, and provide constructive criticism to refine and enhance the product's features and functionalities.

Furthermore, the intersection serves as a platform for continuous learning and growth. Business Designers and Product Managers share their knowledge, experiences, and best practices, fostering a culture of innovation and improvement. They stay updated on the latest industry trends, attend conferences and workshops, and engage in professional development activities to enhance their skills and stay ahead of the curve.

In conclusion, the intersection of Business Designers and Product Managers is a dynamic space where collaboration thrives. Through their combined efforts, they create products that not only meet customer needs but also drive business success. By leveraging their unique perspectives and skill sets, Business Designers and Product Managers unlock the full potential of their collaboration, resulting in innovative and customer-centric solutions.

Distinguishing Between a Business Designer and Product Manager

Differences in Skill Sets

Although a Business Designer and a Product Manager share similar objectives, their skill sets differ. Business Designers are adept at applying design thinking methodologies, conducting user research, and solving complex problems creatively. They have a deep understanding of customer behavior, market dynamics, and can envision future trends.

Product Managers, on the other hand, have strong analytical and strategic skills. They excel at prioritizing features, managing budgets and timelines, and driving cross-functional teams to achieve product development milestones. Product Managers are focused on turning ideas into tangible products that generate revenue and meet customer expectations.

Differences in Day-to-Day Tasks

The day-to-day tasks of Business Designers and Product Managers also differ significantly. Business Designers spend a considerable amount of time conducting user interviews, gathering insights, and facilitating workshops. They collaborate closely with designers in creating prototypes and visualizing concepts.

Product Managers, on the other hand, spend more time gathering market data, analyzing competition, and working with engineering teams to develop and test features. They prioritize features based on customer feedback and market demand, ensuring that the product remains competitive and aligns with the overall business strategy.

The Overlap: Similarities Between Business Designers and Product Managers

Shared Skills and Knowledge

Both Business Designers and Product Managers require a strong foundation in business principles, strategizing, and problem-solving. They need to have a firm grasp of market dynamics, customer behavior, and product development processes. Additionally, both roles demand excellent communication and collaboration skills to work effectively with cross-functional teams.

Common Goals and Objectives

Despite their differences, Business Designers and Product Managers share common goals and objectives. Both roles aim to create customer-centric solutions that deliver value, drive growth, and enhance the overall customer experience. They work towards aligning the organization's objectives with the evolving needs of the market and its customers.

Choosing the Right Role for Your Career

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between the Two Roles

Choosing between the role of a Business Designer and a Product Manager depends on various factors. Consider your strengths and interests - if you are more inclined towards creative problem-solving and have a natural affinity for design thinking, a role as a Business Designer may suit you better. On the other hand, if you excel at strategic planning, market analysis, and driving product development processes, then a career as a Product Manager might be a better fit.

It is also essential to consider the organizational structure and culture of the company you aspire to work for. Some companies may prioritize one role over the other, or have different expectations for each role based on industry or business model. Ultimately, choose a role that aligns with your passion and career goals.

The Impact of Organizational Structure on Role Selection

Organizational structure plays a crucial role in shaping the responsibilities and expectations of Business Designers and Product Managers. In organizations with a more traditional hierarchy, the roles may be more defined and segregated. However, in companies that embrace a more agile and collaborative approach, there may be more flexibility and shared responsibilities between the two roles.

Consider the organizational culture and structure when evaluating opportunities and deciding which role to pursue. Look for companies that foster an environment where Business Designers and Product Managers can collaborate and leverage each other's strengths to drive innovation and success.


In conclusion, while there are similarities between the roles of a Business Designer and a Product Manager, it is essential to understand their distinct responsibilities and skill sets. Both roles play a vital role in driving innovation and creating customer-centric solutions, but they approach it from different perspectives. By understanding the key differences and similarities, you can make an informed decision about which role aligns with your skills, interests, and career goals.

Whether you choose to embark on a career as a Business Designer or a Product Manager, both roles offer exciting opportunities to make a lasting impact on businesses and customers alike. Embrace the challenges and growth opportunities that come with each role, and continuously seek ways to enhance your knowledge and skills.

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