What is the difference and when should a company have a project manager or a developer manager?

I found the following diagram but was further confused:

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More specific question: In a small company is it more beneficial to have a developer manager or project manager?

  • As a further refinement of this question, pm.stackexchange.com/questions/64/… (The question I wanted to ask originally) Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 0:10
  • 1
    I'm not sure that "developer manager" is as formally defined as the term "project manager". It is difficult to compare a well known term with a governance body against an ad hoc term that each company uses differently.
    – MCW
    Commented Dec 17, 2012 at 12:04
  • A developer manager owns developers. A project manager owns projects. Commented Dec 26, 2012 at 22:29

6 Answers 6


I'm not sure I agree with the diagram.

It seems to me that a developer manager has roots in application development. This person may be fluent in one or more of the following:

  • System analysis
  • architecture
  • application/database development
  • SDLC/other programming methodologies

Responsibilities would include:

  • recruiting
  • hiring
  • coaching
  • staff evaluations

amongst others. To be an effective manager, this person should be respected for his/her leadership and technical expertise.

A project manager may not necessarily be a technical expert. This person's scope of responsibilities, although similar to that of a dev manager, are limited to the assigned projects. That is, a pm can hire/fire people from the project, but maybe not necessarily from the company.

[EDIT] If we are contrasting the role of "Product Manager", I'd specify that a Product Manager is responsible for the overall lifecycle of a product or service. That differs from a Project Manager who would only be responsible for the implementation. Once the product or service is launched, the Project Manager would move on to the next project, whereas the Product Manager keeps his/her focus on the specific product/service ensuring it continues to meet business objectives.

  • Very good answer. One caveat though - product manager in your definition is closer to a maintenance/implementation lead. Normally, the role of product manager is to interface to the market and sales force, formulate strategic direction for the product, prioritize customer-driven requirements etc. etc. Also, more often than not project managers are aligned to a specific product/service long-term and do not move from one product to another.
    – RomanK
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 17:33

The diagram isn't clear. Connection between roles suggest what yegor256 is talking about - that author thought about product manager. However if we take a step back from the diagram I understand the role differently.

Development manager is typically manager/leader of development group. Sometimes it's purely programming and sometimes the perspective is broader - it covers architecture/design, quality assurance, implementation and/or maintenance. Also, development manager usually has some formal power over (the part of) the team, being direct manager of people, while project and product managers in vast majority of cases aren't people managers.

Depending on the organization development manager can be focused more on a technical side of the work (architecture, design, etc.) or on leadership (managing people, motivation, staffing) or on both (which doesn't scale up very well).

Having said that, there is no single, universal project team organization. It will depend on specific company, specific project and specific people who are engaged, so don't take it that seriously. Look more for people's strengths so you cover all important roles in the project. It doesn't matter that much what those people have printed on their business cards.

  • I agree with most of this. However, I typically associate "project manager" and "program manager" with business roles (scheduling, budgeting, staffing, and some involvement with requirements and quality) and "technical lead" or "development manager" or "engineering manager" with the technical side (requirements, design, construction, testing, quality). I see both as leaders/managers. But +1 for the last two paragraphs alone - I've seen many different ways of splitting up the business and technical roles on teams, depending on the company culture and the needs of the project.
    – Thomas Owens
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 13:39

We're talking about "Product Manager" here (sometimes called "development manager"), who is responsible for Product Management. He/she is an advocate of product end-user's interests inside the team.

  • Sorry, in my little corner of the world (and it really is little!) I hear "development" and automatically think application development...so "development manager" isn't synonymous with "product manager" to me. Nevertheless, there is still a difference with all 3 roles!
    – CraigV
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 13:47

TPM - Means Technical Project Manager is always a project Manager with Technical Background and Experience where Project Manager might be of Both Technical or Non Technical.

Both are same instead one having Technical Knowledge but work is same that's why TPM are more considerable than PM.

Development Manager is over all responsible as Resources and Technology management to manage over all development teams and project with help of Project Managers and Project Leads

  • 1
    Hi NKR, welcome to PMSE, the site for questions about the field of project management. Can you also answer when should a company have a project manager or a developer manager? In a small company is it more beneficial to have a developer manager or project manager?
    – jmort253
    Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 21:39

A Development Manager takes responsibility more of the technical parts of the project/s.

A Project Manager is responsible for managing the project deadline and ensuring the tasks are achieved well in time. They can be either technical or non-technical. However, they should have a skills-set including such things as decision making, analysis, team management, staffing, etc.

A Product Manager's responsibility is to take the product once both a development manager and a Project Manager have finished it. They take total ownership of the product's post-production.


First, a project is a thing and a developer a person. It is not the same thing to manage a project than to manage a person or many people.

Second, developers have their own agenda. They can have their own project(s) that they develop. They can work alone or in a team. They can be paid, rewarded or volunteer. Many develop apps that they offer to an IT company after. A project can be in any kind of situation with any kind of people.

Third, if you are a developer manager, you have to be ready to work with many people having many different goals to achieve. You manage developers that have many projects that you don't manage directly. You can organize conventions, trainings, corporation events. You have to be competent in all that your developers do.

Forth, project management is not only in the IT industry. You can manage a community project that has nothing to do with start ups and IT innovations.

Finally, if you are good at project management it does not mean that you will be good at developer management. The best thing is to have been a developer yourself or have a high interest in what a developer do.

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