What is Technical Product Manager and How to Become One?

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Technical Product Manager

What is a Technical Product Manager (TPM)?

Definition: A technical product manager is a product manager who has a solid technical background and is usually responsible for the product’s more technical components.

A Technical Product Manager (TPM) is a manager similar to a product manager but with a much more robust technical background.

They are mainly responsible for the technical aspects of the product, which a traditional Product Manager may not 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.

Pros and Cons of technical Product Manager

What does a technical product manager do?

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 customer’s needs. They need to analyze customer data available to them and outline 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. 

Their responsibility is to ensure that the team fully understands all the requirements and their execution is flawless.

A technical product manager keeps researching upcoming 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 help the organization make an informed decision.

A TPM’s in-depth knowledge of various departments such as development, engineering, and so on helps them understand the language of the workforce on a project. 

They can easily interpret the problems of the team members. They can then quickly go on to find reliable solutions for the same. 

They should also be able to answer any questions. It could be about the product and its functionalities from the team members, stakeholders, or even the customers.

Another responsibility is to ensure all the documents related to the product get crafted well and in time. 

They should make sure that these documents are adhered to by all the team members. 

Suppose the team members or the TPM feel a need to change something about the product. 

In that case, 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 make sure that everything goes smoothly. Suppose any problem with the product emerges during the tests. 

They should notify the concerned department about the same and work with them to sort it out quickly.

The latter generally works with higher-level issues and planning for any business employing both a technical product manager and a product manager. In contrast, 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. The TPM may get hooked more on engineering and may overlook the other responsibilities that come with the role of a product manager. 

Thus, ideally, a business should incorporate both a TPM and a product manager in their team. 

This combination would work much better for the authentic product due to specialized personnel in both fields.

Responsibilities of technical product manager

What skills should a technical product manager have?

Management of Product Roadmap Development:

Any agile product requires a simplified roadmap from conception to completion, which a product manager creates.

Product managers establish a comprehensive roadmap. It encompasses processes before and after the manufacturing phase of a product’s lifespan.

Technical product managers are more concerned with developing a roadmap. They focus on the product’s actual development and establish a roadmap specifically for that stage.

Product Research:

Product research is critical for product managers because it allows them to understand their product’s impact on the market and the target audience. 

It aids in exploring the target audience’s wants, likes, and dislikes and how much money they’re ready to spend on the product.

Prototyping:

Prototyping is the critical design verification stage in creating software products. Technical product managers play an essential part in this.

The prototyping process entails creating and testing the user interface design, showing its capabilities. And putting it through its paces in real-world circumstances.

A/B Testing:

Managers use A/B testing to determine the product’s real-world viability and efficacy. It’s the most crucial stage after development.

PMs must be able to identify the product’s most valuable features without having to release the final version and risk receiving unfavorable comments.

Coding:

A technical product manager does not need to know how to code. It is owing to its incredibly focused nature and the fact that it has nothing to do with management.

On the other hand, writing the code can significantly simplify the development process for product managers. Making the work of product teams much more accessible.

Learning how to code will also enable managers to interact more effectively with the software engineering staff as they are conversant in the language.

How to become a technical product manager?

Based on their company and the kind of products they are pushing, technical product managers can come from several educational qualifications. 

A bachelor’s degree in marketing, business administration, computer science, or engineering is typical for aspiring technical product managers to start their studies.

 Marketing, communications, economics, advertising, and statistics are among the undergraduate courses students might benefit from.

Typically technical product managers receive on-the-job training, which can aid in their familiarisation with a company’s products. 

More prominent companies may require their technical product managers to have higher degrees.

Technical product manager vs. Product manager

Background:

A technical product manager must have technical knowledge, such as a degree in software development or engineering. 

In contrast, a product manager may have a more general background, such as business, marketing, or user experience. A product manager uses various product management tools and product roadmap software to develop a successful product.

They are programmers, software engineers, or project managers who have worked on the technical side of projects during their careers. 

Product managers may also have a software development or engineering background in some circumstances.

Concentrate on a variety of topics:

The typical product manager is primarily concerned with the needs of customers and the overall strategy for a product. 

Typically, technical product managers focus on the product’s mechanics and how they interact.

Both types of managers must consider consumers and products simultaneously. But, the technical manager focuses more on the product than the people who will eventually use it. 

In addition, technical product managers have fewer user-facing features than conventional product managers.

Perform Different Research Methodologies:

Any product manager must perform extensive research to ensure that they employ the most effective market strategy.

 A typical product manager will conduct user interviews, research, and assess market trends. Customer needs to build the best overall plan. 

A technical product manager accomplishes essentially the same thing but focuses on the product’s technical capabilities. 

A technical manager is more likely to be engaged with specific developing technologies and cutting-edge developments. Whereas a “normal” manager will continue to be concerned with user-facing interactions rather than APIs and application-facing interfaces.

FAQs

How much does a Technical Product Manager earn?

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 varies on an individual’s skill set.

How technical a product manager should be?

To be a successful product manager in a technological industry, you don’t need a technical background. However, if you can demonstrate some technical prowess in your PM role, it will dramatically assist.

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