Most of the times we get certain terms confused. In this case let us try and figure what it means to be a technical product manager. What do they do and what are they not supposed to do?
In reality, the term Technical Product Manager describes a person, not a role. Specifically, it describes a Product Manager who has a technical background and works on a technology product. It does not describe a Product Manager who needs to actually perform technical tasks, such as software architecting and coding. The same goes for a Product Development Manager. They are not actually developing the product—they are performing a Product Management role in close coordination with a Software Development Team.
In short, for a company to get the most value from the role, Product Managers must focus on product management, not development. But some Product Managers need to understand the company’s technology at a deep level and interface with the Development Team in order to successfully lead the strategy for the product. Companies may choose to call these people “Technical Product Managers” in order to attract the right candidate.
The technical product manager is expected to focus on product management. The manager is supposed to know the strengths and weaknesses of a company’s products and also know about the features of a competitor’s products among other things.
Responsibilities of Technical Product Manager:
- Technical Product Manager must have thorough knowledge about the company’s products strengths and also should have knowledge about the other competitors for the product.
- Ability to develop a new road map strategy starting from the release of the product to the end stage and also upgrade the features of the product which matches with the requirements of the customers who are buying your product.
- Responsibility to find out the important inputs and needs of the customers about your product through many ways and enhance the product features according to the requirements of the customers.
- Creating innovative product ideas, which will attract more customers to buy the product. Responsibility is to search and find out new opportunities to market the product.
For a technical product manager to be able to do their job effectively they will have to possess the required skills. It also depends on the needs of the company or what the company is looking for. However it should be noted that as much technical skills are important, a good technical product manager must also be a good communicator and marketer.
Having said that, here are some technical skills that I think all PMs should work to develop to some extent:
- Data Extraction and Analysis – SQL is essential, at least to understand basic queries and joins. Excel mastery is also essential, because you’re going to want to do something with that data. Not every company has access to expensive data analytics, and even when they do, you still might need to hand-roll something specific to your needs.
- LAMP Stack – Ideally, any PM that I’m working with could build a basic LAMP (Linux / Apache / MySQL / PHP) application that does basic read/write functions. This doesn’t mean that it’s their job to do so, but every so often you’ll run into a design question or a problem/solution set that’s better expressed by a functioning model than just a wireframe.
- Basic Understanding of the Internet – And I mean more than just “oh, the World Wide Web, right?” Especially in B2B and especially with SaaS solutions, you should be versed enough in TCP/IP, basic routing, FTP, APIs, gateways, and other necessary hardware and software that you can talk the talk and walk the walk when someone asks you about things related to your job.