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Product or Proposition manager, what’s the difference?

Product or Proposition manager, what’s the difference?

Product managers you will find everywhere. The maturing software development market resulted in a rapid evolution of the product management profession. Nowadays you also see proposition manager roles appear in LinkedIN job postings. What is a proposition manager actually, and how does it differ from a product manager? 

Let’s first look at the differences between product and proposition before we are going to discuss the role differences:

Differences between Products and Propositions

Proposition – A proposition is the description of your offering to your customers. This includes one or more products and/or services as well as all relevant elements that are required to deliver the offering to your customer. This includes for example collateral, terms and conditions, internal processes. The proposition at least describes:

  • The problem that the proposition is going to solve
  • The value attributes that make the offering unique or special 
  • A description of what the customer will get

Why don’t we  look at an example of a proposition.

  • The proposition offered by Uber is convenience in getting from A to B. Uber offers a product, the App, that allows you to find taxis close to your area, and then offers you a service, which is the ride. In order to offer the service Uber has managed to set up a network of drivers with cars who are willing to deliver this service under the conditions outlined by Uber. 

Product –  a product  that is an item or a service that is offered to the customer and fulfills the need of that customer. A product can be part of one, but also part of multiple propositions. A product can be virtual or physical. 

Let us consider an example of a product.

  • Products can include durable things like a washing machine, or a car, but can also mean electronic items such as the Uber App from the previous example or even a subscription to a gym. 

What is the difference between the product manager and the proposition manager

If you look at the examples above, the product manager sometimes is in charge of a product or the service but most likely he or she actually is in charge of an entire value proposition. Therefore you can use the roles interchangeably. 

“The product or proposition manager is in charge of the value proposition to the customer. This proposition can include one or more products or services. The product/proposition manager manages the value proposition from cradle to grave, and takes radical accountability for all aspects in the value chain”. 

If you really want to identify some role differences, then you can consider the proposition manager role to be a broader role with a focus on the customer. The proposition manager typically is accountable for building out new propositions towards customers that include one or multiple products. The proposition manager works with product management to build out these propositions. The product manager has a stronger role demarcation and is in charge or either a product line or a customer segment/channel, and can be both internal as external.

The Product Manager role often is an IT role

The product manager role is a common role in the IT space. Product managers typically take charge of the software products or specific value chains that include one or more software products. The product manager can be in charge of internal, but also external product propositions. 

  • Product Manager for the IT platform of an e-tailer
  • Product Manager Mobile applications 
  • Product Manager VR services 

The Product Manager role outside of IT

The product manager often is also a commercial role, where he/she is in charge of a specific product line or a specific customer channel. There typically is a clear demarcation on a specific set of products defining the boundaries of the role

  • Product Manager Medical supplies
  • Product Manager Pizza 
  • Product Manager Omnichannel

The Proposition Manager role often is less technical, and more focused on the business 

The Proposition Manager role is typically found outside IT and in often the focus is customer oriented, not internal. The reason for choosing ‘proposition’ over ‘product’ is the external focus on building out the value proposition towards the customer.  The term proposition is also chosen when multiple product lines or product market combinations are applied in building out the value proposition to the customer. Finally, proposition management can be considered when the company does not actually ‘sell’ products to the market.

  • Proposition Manager Energy Transition for a utilities company
  • Proposition Manager Recruitment
  • Business Proposition Manager Insurances
  • Head of Customer Proposition.



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