What is a Technical Product Manager?

As I look for work, this term – technical product manager (TPM) comes up and not everyone knows what it is. I know some amazing product managers – like Jacob Jensen and Azmir Mohamad – hope they don’t mind my saying that publicly – and they are quite different then a TPM. Make no mistake they are technical, but they can also do things like figure out what a feature, or a product should cost. I think of a TPM as often being an ex – professional services person who is very good at talking with customers and deeply comfortable with understanding and implementing technology. They can do more then talk about features with a customer and can in fact talk about using the features in depth – and like traditional product managers they know the difference between what a customers asks for, and what they need!

So here is my list of what makes up a TPM.

  • Can implement the technology they represent in a production ready environment
  • Can talk with a customer about the problems, and opportunities the technology brings, including workarounds
  • Can produce a decent feature product requirements document – which will likely will be enhanced by an traditional product manager.
  • Can spend a lot of time in the lab to support speaking in detail about the product as it really is.
  • Can work with customers to help them implement successfully
  • Can talk with technical audiences about the product such as at VMworld or VMUGs
  • Can work closely with engineering, in particular the UX people.  This means being able to communicate successfully how real people use the feature or product in a way that the UX people can action that info.

Hope that this helps,

Michael

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