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What is a Technical Product Manager (TPM)?
A Technical Product Manager (TPM) is a manager similar to a Product Manager but with a much stronger technical background. He is mainly responsible for the technical aspects of the product which a traditional Product Manager may not be able to understand.
A TPM is not just a Product Manager required to overlook the technical aspects but is also required to work more closely with the engineering team than the marketing or the sales team. They act as a connecting bridge between the business side and the engineering side of the team. Having a TPM onboard a team also helps to swiftly determine whether any demand by a client is feasible or not.
Technical Product Managers are typically only present in a team when it has the budget and is large enough to accommodate them. Otherwise some former engineers or computer science majors are likely to take up the responsibilities of a TPM. As any business expands, there may arise a need for a more specialized person for every job hence requiring a specific role of a Technical Product Manager in the team.
Roles of a Technical Product Manager
The job of a Technical Product Manager does not vary much from what a ‘traditional’ Product Manager does. However, there are some areas in the technical domain that a TPM must know about.
A TPM should be able to understand and realize the needs of the customer. They need to analyze customer data available to them and draw an outline of what the customer needs and expects from the product.
Traditional Product Managers must have the ability to align themselves with every part of the team, be it development, engineering, marketing, sales, or any other role. It is their responsibility to ensure that all the requirements are fully understood by the team and their execution is flawless.
A Technical Product Manager keeps on researching up and coming technologies in the market and works to find ways to integrate them into their product. They are generally up-to-date with any latest developments and could therefore help the organization make an informed decision.
A TPM’s in-depth knowledge of various departments such as development, engineering, etc. helps them understand the language of the workforce on a project. They can easily interpret the problems of the team members and can then quickly go on to finding reliable solutions for the same. They should also be able to answer any questions about the product and its functionalities coming from the team members, stakeholders, or even the customers.
Another responsibility of a TPM is to ensure all the documents related to the product are created well and truly in time. They should make sure that these documents are adhered to by all the team members at all times. If the team members or the TPM feel a need to change something about the product, they should get together and discuss their ideas and then update the documents accordingly.
A TPM should lead all the beta tests of the product before its launch and should make sure that everything goes smoothly. If any problem with the product emerges during the tests, they should notify the concerned department about the same and should work with them to sort it out as quickly as possible.
For any business employing both a Technical Product Manager and a Product Manager, the latter generally works with higher-level issues and planning while the former works more closely with the technical aspects of the product. Employing only a TPM and no Product Manager could cause more harm than good as the TPM may get hooked more with the engineering and may overlook the other responsibilities that come with the role of a Product Manager. Thus, ideally, a business should try and incorporate both a TPM and a Product Manager in their team as this combination would work much better for the whole product due to the presence of specialized personnel in both fields.
Q: What technical skills should a Technical Product Manager have?
A: A Technical Product Manager must understand and be aware of the new and coming technologies in the scope of their product and should look to find ways to incorporate them into the product. They should analyze customer data to understand their needs, perform beta tests, and work towards a swift execution of all the strategies of product development.
Q: How much does a Technical Product Manager earn?
A: According to the website indeed.com a Technical Product Manager on average earns around $108,000 every year. This figure varies from one location to another and also varies on the skill set of an individual.
Q: What is the difference between a Product Manager and a Technical Product Manager?
A: A Product Manager is more focused on customers and determining the overall execution strategy of a product whereas a Technical Product Manager focuses mainly on the development and engineering part of the product.