What Does a Technical Product Manager Do? Roles and Responsibilities
The world of product management and product development calls for particular roles and responsibilities. Therefore, a clear understanding of the technical product manager job description is essential for any company.
Many people tend to get confused when it comes to technical product managers. People assume that product managers need to have technical knowledge and skills to become technical product managers. The truth is, any tech person in product management can be a technical product manager.
All you need is a technical background and enough experience in the field.
In this article, we’ll talk about the technical product manager job description and the roles and responsibilities they have.
What is a Technical Product Manager?
Technical product managers are directly responsible for the success of a product. They have to make sure that that the product is fulfilling all product offerings. They also actively search for any issues or problems and fix them by working with product managers, product owners, and the development team.
Working with cross-functional teams, technical product managers play a role in the development, marketing, selling, and support of a product. Their input is usually from an engineering and design point of view.
They actively work with the engineering team to create and modify products to fulfill customer needs. For example, in the SaaS industry, technical product managers help stakeholders get a better idea of the product development process. They also provide insights into why certain features should be added or removed from a product’s design.
The technical product manager role can be considered an external-facing role. That isn’t only true for technical product management roles, but also for general product management roles. However, technical product managers usually possess computer science and software engineering skills that allow them to manage engineering and software development teams directly.
Furthermore, technical product managers are also well-versed in things like Total Product Maintenance (TPM), Scrum, technical PMS (Product Management Systems), and Agile systems. That helps them play a vital role in the development of the product vision, product roadmap, product strategy, product releases, and even product marketing.
Technical Product Manager Job Description
These are some of the tasks a technical product manager has to complete:
- Analyze customer needs and make them into requirements.
- Work with internal teams, including developers, engineers, Q.A, and operations.
- Assess new products and companies to measure their potential value.
- Look into competitors and conduct capability analyses regularly.
- Organize and implement internal and customer training on how to use the product.
- Answer questions related to the product and its capabilities.
- Evaluate and deal with technical risks.
- Work with data pipelines, algorithms, and automated systems.
- Being an evangelist and subject matter expert to the community.
- Implement beta tests.
- Analyze metrics and data
- Create success criteria for testing and product acceptance.
- Being at the forefront of the creation and maintenance of product documentation.
The technical product manager job description is relatively similar to a product manager’s job description. However, the differing job titles are for a particular reason – it depends on the background and experience a company wants.
For example, if you’re a cloud-based or SaaS business, you’ll need a technical product manager with engineering, design, and coding skills. Alternatively, if you have a clothing and apparel business, you’ll need a technical product manager who has experience in clothes manufacturing.
Let’s take the example of a Toys"R"Us and what a typical technical product manager job description would look like in this case.
“We’re looking for an all-in-one Technical Product Manager who will manage an entire product line of toys. You will work on new products and will be prioritizing changes based on product requirements, business requirements, and market research.
As the technical product manager, you will also be working on full product backlogs with an entire product team and a senior product manager. You will have to evaluate the product lifecycle of the toys and user stories to gauge the user experience (children, in this case). Using that information, you will find potential bottlenecks and issues in the toys that require attention (such as rough edges and greasy parts).
Furthermore, you’ll be responsible for business-side operations, project management for new projects, and will have to enact go-to-market strategies. Your clarity of communication will rely greatly on your technical skills.
You need to have excellent communication skills and technical expertise so you can communicate goals, responsibilities, objectives, roles, and processes.
Lastly, you will be responsible for the identification, prioritization, and delivery of new product opportunities. It’s best to have experience with the entire toy development process from ideation to the product launch.”
While the general gist of the job description remains the same, some of the processes will change for different industries.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Technical Product Manager
The roles and responsibilities of a technical product manager tend to differ according to different industries and companies. However, generally speaking, their responsibilities tend to be similar. Becoming a great technical product manager requires some effort on your part, but you can pull it off once you understand the requirements.
The following are the typical duties of a technical product manager (they are adjustable according to different industries and companies):
1. Help Create and Manage the Product Roadmap
Creating a product roadmap is among the most critical tasks of a technical product manager. A product roadmap is the entire lifecycle of a product. It acts as a blueprint for what the product needs to be and what route it should take.
A product roadmap details all the tasks and duties of each team and lists down deadlines, timelines, and objectives. It also showcases what task would fulfill which objective so teams can prioritize accordingly.
Once the product roadmap is complete, the technical product manager shares and discusses it with other teams and stakeholders. At this point, any potential changes are pointed out and made.
2. Execute and Manage the Product Vision
The technical product manager converts the vision into a workable blueprint. During this process, they assess the product backlog to ensure there are no issues or discrepancies.
It’s also best to note down any potential changes. This includes advising different teams on changing features to minimize future costs and time consumption.
Working and managing the product vision ensures that the products are developed correctly and that the design is right.
3. Conduct Market Research to Look for Gaps
While market research may sound like a job for the product marketing manager, it’s also an essential part of a technical product manager’s job.
Technical product managers conduct market research to find out new market gaps for potential products. They also find out user stories to better understand customer needs. The idea is to find potential issues in the product and ways to make the product better.
Market research helps back all the potential changes advised to the engineering and design teams. Technical product managers can use their technical expertise to devise custom solutions and ideas that can easily be implemented by the development teams.
At times, market research may suggest one thing while customers might want another. At this point, technical product managers have to devise a solution that appeases both sides while making sure the product vision isn’t compromised.
4. Realize and Tackle Risk
Risks are present in every stage of product management and can pose significant threats to a product. These can be roadblocks, delayed timelines, outstanding budgets, production issues, and even labor problems.
Technical product managers need to anticipate these risks before they come up. The work shouldn't stop and operations shouldn't be halted due to such issues.
As a result, technical product managers develop contingency plans for common risks. These plans are customized and modified according to the product and company.
In any case, technical product managers need to realize and assess risks beforehand. They need to come up with viable solutions and risk tackling strategies while product development continues.
5. Collaborate and Communicate with the Product Team
An essential part of the technical product manager job description is that they need to communicate and collaborate with several teams and stakeholders.
However, most importantly, they should continually be in contact with the product owner and the Scrum master (in the case of Scrum development).
That includes providing updates, asking for feedback, making sure all parties are on the same page, and discussing timelines. The primary reason for this is that the product owner is responsible for the product vision and has to make sure it’s being followed. The Scrum master evaluates the product roadmap and advises on any changes that need to be made.
Having a clear line of communication among all parties ensures that the product vision and roadmap are acceptable. It also helps ensures all parties do their part and that the development process runs smoothly.
How Do I Craft My Technical Product Manager Job Description?
It’s not that hard to develop an excellent technical product manager job description if you’re familiar with your industry. You have to use your technical and product management knowledge.
However, if you’re having a hard time, you can check out the technical product manager job descriptions put up by companies such as Amazon. Many companies in the United States put up jobs for technical product managers. You’re best off looking at the job descriptions of companies from California and New York.
You should always ask for a second opinion before making it official.
If you are new to technical product management and are looking to break in, we recommend taking our Technical PM course, where you will learn fundamentals of being a more technical PM, how to dominate technical product manager interviews, and how to stand out as a more technical candidate.