There is a vast difference between a technical product manager and just any product manager. Many are not aware of these differences. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of both roles can give you insight into the industry.
Product managers generally occupy different roles, such as strategic product manager and eCommerce or energy product manager.In software companies, you come across titles such as technical product manager, development manager, and product manager.
The title technical product manager is actually referring to a person and not a job role. Someone serving in the product manager position who happens to have a strong background in technical knowledge would qualify as a technical product manager.
This does not necessarily mean that this person is personally handling the technical nitty-gritty of the project like software coding. The same can be said of someone functioning as a product development manager. They do not have to develop the product but work with the team of devs to create a product and manage the strategy behind it.
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Product Manager Versus Technical Product Manager
In a nutshell, a product manager should focus on the product outcomes and strategy and not the technical details. But some product managers need to have a thorough understanding of the technologies used by the companies to interface well with the development team and bring a good end-product to market. Human resources use the term “technical product managers” as a way of screening applicants for the necessary skills to fill this role.
A technical product manager can offer the following benefits:
Your development team is likely to communicate better and be more trusting of someone who has proven technical skill.
Capacity to get ahead of technology trends and know how these can impact the roadmap.
Ability to push for greater innovation.
Understanding the specific challenges for each project from a technical standpoint and ability to make adjustments with the help of developers.
Most technical product managers use their valuable skills to create a technical solution for the products. They do not use them to solve the commercial or user needs of their target customers. Here are some of the do’s and don’ts for technical product managers.
These are some things that the technical product managers should do:
No. 1: Focus on End Goal of Your Role
It does not matter which business you are dealing with, your task as a product manager is to creatively develop a product and position it in the market. In order to do that, you need to know what demand you are meeting and what issue you are solving with your product. In addition to earning revenues for your company, you want to have a functional product that meets a real user need.
As a product manager, it is essential for you to understand the needs of the users and work in conjunction with the other resources and stakeholders to develop a product for which there is a need. You should, therefore, see your part in the process as a commercial one with marketing implications for the product, and not simply act as a tech specialist.
No. 2: Use your technical knowledge to contribute to smart strategy
One of the quickest ways to gain trust from the development team is to demonstrate technical expertise. They will be able to trust your judgment when you have to make a tough call. Although you won’t be writing code yourself, having a good sense of how your team is accomplishing this will lend credibility to your decisions. During the development process, you may find there are aspects of your product that you need to ax, and if your team knows that you understand their work, they’ll be more likely to respect that decision.
Your ability to speak to the specifics of a complex product from a technical standpoint means that you can make highly specific requests of your team and adjust plans as needed along the way.
No. 3: Be a translator for the engineering team
When you start talking about technical specs, most people’s eyes glaze over and they tune out. You as a technical product manager are one of those rare non-engineers who does want to know the technical details and, better yet, can understand them.
You can turn this ability into a huge asset for your product by acting as a translator for your engineering team, conveying to other departments and end-users the details of a product without getting bogged down in technical jargon.
Companies seek out technical product managers when they want to market to a technically literate customer base. In these instances, your ability to speak accurately about the technical components and functions of your product is vital to successfully selling the product to the target market.
Each company will have its own classification system for a specialist. The job duties of each of these positions will vary, mostly depending on what the product they are trying to bring to market is, how complex it is, and who the target customers are.
Despite all these variations and differences, there are common themes among companies when it comes to the technical product manager. This is a person who can facilitate complex technical development by making a realistic path to production based on extensive technical skill and knowledge.
Companies signal a need for such a specialist by inserting the word “technical” in their job postings. It’s not that you’ll be sitting behind a screen coding, but you need to know the ins and outs of all the technical aspects of your product if you want to fill this important role. You also need a keen understanding of marketing and product positioning to pair with your technical knowledge for the greatest chance of success in bringing your product to market.