Technical Product Manager
A Technical Product Manager brings together technical and theoretical knowledge of product management and requires an in-depth understanding of the company’s technology to drive the product’s development strategy efficiently.
The demand for product management is increasing, with a 32% growth in the demand for product development roles over the last two years in the United States alone, and the demand for Technical Product Managers is similarly increasing.
As the role of product managers has grown in importance, the job description has also developed into multiple unique specializations. One of its most well-known niche roles is that of Technical Product Manager, a critical component of any software-focused product development strategy.
In this glossary article, we explore this role and the responsibilities it entails. We also talk about what to look for when you’re hiring one for your business.
Table of contents
- What is a Technical Product Manager?
- What Do You Look For in a Technical Product Manager?
- The Roles of a Technical Product Manager
- Technical Product Manager vs. Product Manager
- The Technical Product Manager: A Valuable Ally in Software-Driven Product Development
What is a Technical Product Manager?
Contrary to popular belief, a Technical Product Manager does not refer to a product manager who executes technical tasks. Instead, it’s someone with a technical background who works as a product manager on a technology product. Their knowledge should ideally represent a marriage between computer science and software engineering, allowing them to manage product development teams effectively.
The bulk of a Technical Product Manager’s responsibilities include coordinating with software developers, marketers, and the rest of the team to deliver a high-quality product. This role requires an in-depth understanding of the company’s technology to drive the product’s development strategy efficiently.
This position brings together technical and theoretical knowledge of product management. Most job openings for this role involve the usual responsibilities of a product manager, albeit with an increased focus on technology.
What Do You Look For in a Technical Product Manager?
The day-to-day responsibilities include handling the development, marketing, sales, and support for a product. They also provide input and technical know-how into its engineering and design.
Together with the engineering team, a Technical Product Manager performs the following tasks:
- Builds products that meet consumer needs
- Gives valuable insight into what features should be added or eliminated
- Modifies the product to ensure it fulfills what customers want and need
The ideal person has the following qualifications:
- Well-versed in product management skills
- Skilled in Agile Frameworks and Total Product Maintenance (TPM)
- A background in implementing go-to-market strategies and business-side operations
- Capable of communicating a product’s features to the organization’s stakeholders
- Experience in handling different teams or departments
There is no single educational background expected. However, most people in this role earned their undergraduate degrees in marketing, business administration, computer science, engineering, or other adjacent fields. Some also took classes in advertising and statistics to better understand the market’s role in technological product development.
The job description depends on the company’s industry. For instance, a cloud-based business or SaaS firm will most likely require someone with a background in cloud platforms and network engineering for this role. On the other hand, a mobile app developer will appreciate a Technical Product Manager who understands mobile UX, mobile frameworks, and responsive design.
The Roles of a Technical Product Manager
The Technical Product Manager’s roles have significant overlap with that of a Product Manager, and they include the following areas of responsibility:
Develop the Product Roadmap
As the blueprint for the product’s entire lifecycle, the Product Roadmap is undoubtedly essential. It is the Technical Product Manager’s responsibility to develop and implement it. Besides identifying the project’s objectives, they must also list down each team’s deadlines, timelines, and budget.
This keeps everyone on track and enables them to prioritize deliverables accordingly. If there are any changes, the Technical Product Manager must inform the rest of the teams and other relevant stakeholders.
Conduct Market Research
The fundamentals of product management include identifying gaps in the market that potential products could fill. Thus, a Technical Product Manager must deliver comprehensive market research that will help inform the business on the product strategies they can choose to initiate.
Market research is also crucial in determining which product features should be added, kept, or removed, based on whether they address market needs. This is one area where the Technical Product Manager’s expertise shines. Their technical background allows them to make recommendations that are informed by what they know about the target market. What’s more, they also understand a feature’s technical feasibility and impact on development timelines.
Collaborate with the Product Team
Working together with the rest of the product team is one of the essential parts of the Technical Product Manager’s job. Therefore, they must remain in constant contact with the project’s relevant stakeholders to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
The product team and the Technical Product Manager should have a clear line of communication at all times. Only then will the development process run smoothly.
Technical Product Manager vs. Product Manager
From the information above, it’s clear that a Technical Product Manager’s role can differ somewhat from your average product manager. Many companies seek to fill both roles to prioritize their customer’s needs and the product’s technical features.
This is because Technical Product Managers have the necessary skills and experience to develop the product’s actual capabilities. They know how to keep an eye out for any emerging industry trends that your organization can leverage to fuel growth.
Additionally, their responsibilities mean working closely with the developers, engineers, and testers to guarantee the product’s quality before its deployment.
A more specialized role is the Business-Minded Product Manager. They are more focused on fulfilling customer needs and creating the overall product strategy. Their day-to-day tasks include working with marketers, sales representatives, and project managers to ensure that all departments work according to schedule.
Moreover, Business-Minded Product Managers are skilled at identifying go-to-market strategies that can help take the product to greater heights of success.
Some companies require their Technical Product Manager to perform both roles. Other organizations, however, prefer to keep the two positions separate.
The Technical Product Manager: A Valuable Ally in Software-Driven Product Development
There is no doubt about the importance of the Product Manager role. However, depending on your requirements, you may find value in looking for one with a technical background, who will be able to provide valuable input on the software development cycle from a managerial vantage point. That’s where a Technical Product Manager comes in, and they could certainly make for a great addition to your team.