A technical product manager is a product manager with a technical background.
The role is similar to that of a product manager: someone who is responsible for the success of a product by working cross-functionally with the teams building, marketing, selling, and supporting it. But where product managers are usually more external-facing by interviewing customers and collaborating with other teams to conduct competitive analyses and make go-to-market plans, technical product managers usually have a background in computer science or software engineering and work more closely with engineering and design teams on product features and capabilities.
Technical product managers aren't just product managers who carry out technical tasks -- it's a specific person in a product management role with a technical background, versus a cross-functional business background.
Depending on the size and breadth of a product, some companies might hire a product manager and a technical product manager, so they have one person focused on coordinating the business around the product, and one person focused on coordinating the technical side of building the product. Others might prefer to have one product manager accountable for the what, why, and how of building and bringing a new product to market.
Whatever their focus, a product manager's success is contingent on their ability to network and coordinate across different teams and professionals to keep everyone working towards a single goal. Whether they're responsible for coordinating marketing launch plans, or shipping new code themselves, a product manager should be comfortable leading meetings, organizing spreadsheets, and rallying the troops.
Originally published Aug 31, 2018 8:00:00 AM, updated August 05 2019