Technical product management is a hybrid role that requires the expertise of an engineer, marketer, and researcher all in one person. It’s a challenging role that requires you to constantly learn new things and stay on top of industry trends.
Who Is a Technical Product Manager?
The technical product manager role not only needs to understand digital products to create product roadmaps and features but also marketing, pricing, and competitors. The job description also entails internal and customer training, as well as technical expertise. That’s why many people struggle with the transition from being an engineer or marketer and understanding what the product manager job description entails.
A technical product manager will typically have a background in engineering or product development and know how to apply that knowledge to the rest of the product life cycle. This means they can create a product roadmap with features based on what is technically possible. They will also conduct market research, closely follow customer needs, and adhere to the company goals.
A technical product manager is responsible for overseeing all product development processes and making sure that it aligns with the company’s strategy and goals. In this role, you’ll be in charge of the product roadmap and feature prioritization, product research and customer needs, user testing and beta testing, and product discovery and ideation.
Technical Product Manager vs. Traditional Product Manager
The difference between the product manager and a technical product manager is not as visible as the one between a Product Manager and vs. Project Manager. However, let’s take a closer look at the differences between a technical product manager and a product manager in terms of their duties and responsibilities.
The average income for a product manager in 2021 was $96,522/year, while the average compensation for a technical product manager was $100,074/year.
This is to be expected, given technical product managers have some technical abilities and knowledge that product managers do not.
Someone in a technical product management role must have a technical background, such as a degree in software development or engineering. Traditional product managers tend to have a more general experience. They are people that have dabbled in coding, software engineering, or other technical aspects of projects at some point in their careers. In certain circumstances, product managers have backgrounds in software development or engineering.
In general, a TPM should include the following features:
- Knowledge of computer science, software development, and/or engineering. They have a working knowledge of programming and can communicate well with both the engineering and design teams.
- Working knowledge of software development techniques and procedures, such as scrum and agile.
- Product road mapping skills. A technical product manager, as opposed to a product manager, is more concerned with the implementation and the how than the what and why of what goes on a product roadmap, product specifications, and product vision.
- API knowledge. For a product to succeed, it must be able to connect effectively with other software, therefore API knowledge is essential.
There is some overlap between the abilities necessary for product managers and those required for product owners. As a general rule, product managers also need to be knowledgeable in market research, UX best practices, critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication to be successful.
The two fundamental needs for this job title are technical know-how and product experience. Most organizations seek these qualifications when hiring a technical product manager:
- Bachelor’s/Master’s degree in engineering, CS, IT, or related experience
- Business background
- 3+ years’ product development experience
- 3+ years of business transformation experience
- JIRA experience
- Minimum 2 years experience (for example, SaaS, marketplace, or financial industry)
- Six Sigma-certification
- Scaling UX to suit global consumer expectations
Teams With Which They Have Regular Contact
A technical product manager will spend most of their time working with development teams. As a result, it’s not as if they won’t be working with engineering teams, marketing, sales, and customer support—just it’s that their focus will be much more specific on the tech teams.
However, making cross-functional teams as part of internal teams might be a good idea to keep everyone in the loop at all times.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Technical Product Manager
Technical product manager duties vary by industry and company. Their duties are comparable, though. Understanding the requirements can help you become an excellent technical product manager.
1. Build and Manage the Product Road Map
Technical product managers must create product roadmaps and the entire Product Process Matrix. Product roadmaps are product life cycles. It outlines what the product should be and its direction. Product management frameworks can help in making a road map.
The technical product manager communicates the product roadmap with other teams and stakeholders.
2. Manage Product Vision
The technical product manager creates a product plan. As part of this procedure, they check the product backlog to make sure there are no errors or inconsistencies.
TPMs need to keep track of any possible modifications. This includes counseling teams on modifying features to save future expenses and time use. Managing the product vision ensures accurate development and design.
3. Research Market Gaps
Market research is a vital aspect of a technical product manager’s job.
Technical product managers explore market gaps for possible products. User story mapping helps them understand client wants.
Customers may desire something different than what market research suggests. Technical product managers must find a way to accommodate all groups without compromising the product goal.
4. Assess Risk
Risks may threaten a product at every step of product management. These include bottlenecks, delayed timeframes, unmet finances, production concerns, and labor issues.
Technical product managers must analyze hazards in advance. As product development proceeds, they must come up with solutions and risk-management measures.
5. Work With the Product Team
Technical product managers must work with several teams and stakeholders.
That involves delivering updates, asking for comments, and addressing timetables. The product owner must ensure the product vision is followed.
Clear communication ensures the product vision and roadmap are accepted. It helps all parties do their part and guarantees a smooth growth process.
Technical Product Manager Do’s
1. Focus on the Role’s Business Side
A Product Manager should understand user needs and collaborate with other departments. In other words, the role of Technical Product Manager is more of a business role with certain technical responsibilities.
2. Use Technology to Enhance Planning and Prioritizing
You can more correctly estimate the length of tasks if you are familiar with the manufacturing process for the product you’re developing. Since you can engage with the Development Team more deeply, you can understand the repercussions of specific actions and make complexity, depth, or timescale trade-offs.
3. Use Your Technical Talents to Improve Engineering Communication
Technical people forget that few care about details. Technical Product Managers translate between Engineering, Sales, Product Marketing, and customers.
You can leverage your technical skills to engage your audience, get feedback, and finalize a transaction with the customer.
Technical Product Manager Don’t’s
1. Don’t Design Your Product
Many engineers-turned-Product Managers struggle to leave their comfort zone. They focus on the technical solution, not the user outcome or commercial value.
But this can lead to the Development Team being unhappy because the PM provides solution details. Their job is to find the solution, not yours.
2. Don’t Become Fixated with Agile or Your Approach
Online, Agile, and Product Management are popular. Many Technical PMs are developers, therefore Agile is natural to them.
Agile is a small portion of a Product Manager’s job, and it may be problematic if it delays essential PM tasks like communicating with customers and Sales as well as defining the plan.
Pros and Cons of Hiring a Technical Product Manager
There are many benefits to hiring a technical PM, including increased collaboration between departments, increased efficiency, and smoother product development cycles. A technical product manager often comes from a technical background, which means they understand how a product is built, how it can be improved, and all the technical solutions.
The technical product management job wants someone who can create a product roadmap, understand technical challenges, as well as follow through on the product strategy following all the technical details, to the final product development.
A product manager from the tech industry who is also an engineer will likely have a higher salary than someone who isn’t technical. Working with technical product managers can help your engineering team be more efficient and make faster progress toward key goals.
Technical Product Manager Hiring
Technical product manager hiring isn’t easy. There are certain ways to find the best. Let’s look at what firms want in technical product managers.
First, assess a candidate’s technical background. Most organizations recruiting for TPM demand an engineering, computer science, IT, or similar degree. It’s unusual, however, that some persons without technical degrees have equivalent experience.
The product manager job description requires project management first and being able to understand tech trends second. A good technical product manager understands the company’s product strategy and business requirements.
Technical product manager executes strategy. This entails connecting with business-minded and technically-minded people to meet their demands. TPM must be comfortable discussing the merits and downsides of alternative ways with developers (and users).
Every product manager must solve customer issues. A technical product manager must communicate directly with users to discover technological elements that contribute to user success.
Technical product managers must have expertise in choosing the best course of action in a changing setting. Look for someone who can break down barriers to increase relationships and efficiency. The ability to build scalable and performance-driven control platforms is essential.
What Are Ways to Start a Career in Product Management?
Technical product managers need to have a wide range of skills to be successful. If you’re interested in becoming a product manager, especially if you want to become a director of product management, make a plan for developing the skills you need.
As you plan your career path, make sure to focus on gaining the skills that are most relevant to product management. Once you have a good grasp of the skills needed, finding a job as a product manager should be much easier.
Keep in mind that becoming a product manager takes time. Achieving success as a product manager depends not just on the skills you currently have but also on the skills you develop.
Best Practices and Tips for Being a Great Product Manager
At any given time, the product manager must pick between a feature that may make one major customer happy but 100 smaller customers unhappy, keeping a product’s status quo. Or, directing it in a new way to broaden its reach and fit with wider corporate goals.
Product managers make the appropriate choice by weighing the costs and advantages of each option.
Know Your Way Around
Product managers must know the market. Product managers usually join something with momentum. Without time to plan, they’ll make unwise judgments.
Good product managers ask questions first. Start your product management position by talking to as many customers as possible. As many internal stakeholders as possible. Learn how to influence others. Learn decision-making. Then you may make your own decisions.
Give Your Team Decision-Making Authority
Product managers can’t decide everything. A fundamental to successful product management is allowing your team to make their judgments by building a mechanism to make decisions.
Influence Without Power
Influence may take many different forms. Being a great storyteller will get you far. Some people need to see you in action before they appreciate you. Leading without direct power requires knowing which levers to pull with whom.
Trading off causes unhappiness. First, make the proper tradeoffs, then explain why you made them. If you explain your decision well, people may not like it, but they’ll respect it. Even if they don’t, exceptional product managers find a way to cope with it.
Being a technical product manager requires a special set of skills. And if you’d like to be one, you now know what to look for.