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The technical project manager role explained

PostsProject management
Georgina Guthrie

Georgina Guthrie

June 21, 2024

We all know project managers are the glue that holds everyone and everything together, motivating the team, juggling deadlines, budgets, stakeholders and more. But sometimes, projects call for a special kind of PM — one who knows how to code as much as they do lead. Introducing: the technical project manager. 

What is a technical project manager?

The technical project manager role combines deep tech know-how with leadership expertise. 

People in this role oversee all the IT and technology-driven elements while making sure they align with business objectives. They’ll have their sights on milestones and budgets while explaining complex technical details in understandable terms to stakeholders across all levels.

Think of them as sitting where technology intersects with business, bridging the gap between tech-minded developers and money-minded stakeholders.

What does a technical project manager do?

Technical project managers drive tech-focused projects to the finish line, from planning right the way through to execution and delivery. Here’s an overview.

Key responsibilities:

  • Brainstorming: Chatting with technical teams early on to outline the project scope and objectives.
  • Planning: Creating detailed project plans, including timelines, resource allocation, and risk assessment.
  • Scheduling: Allocating tasks among the team and setting deadlines with a focus on creating a smooth, efficient workflow.
  • Execution oversight: Overseeing the project’s major phases, making sure everyone is meeting technical standards and deadlines.
  • Budget management: Monitoring the project budget, making adjustments as needed while handling unexpected changes or challenges.
  • Stakeholder communication: Keeping all stakeholders in the loop about project progress and any issues that pop up, plus translating technical details into general terms they can understand.
  • Collaboration: Working with department heads and other team leaders to ensure project objectives are met through cooperative efforts.

Technical project manager vs. project manager

Both oversee projects, but the scope and focus can be wildly different depending on the industry. 

Technical project managers specialize in technology-driven projects. General project managers, on the other hand, might handle a broader range of projects across various fields, some of which may not call for in-depth tech knowledge. 

Technical project managerProject manager
Core expertiseDeep understanding of technology, software, and IT systems.Broad project management skills applicable to various industries.
Project focusPrimarily tech-based projects, e.g. software development, IT infrastructure upgrades, and system implementations.Wide-ranging, from marketing campaigns to construction and beyond.
Stakeholder communicationFrequent interaction with IT teams, developers, and technical experts.Deals with a diverse group of stakeholders from various fields.
Problem-solvingFocuses on technical issues, software bugs, and system optimizations.Handles logistical, operational, and strategic problems.
Training & qualificationsOften requires technical certifications like CompTIA Project+ or a background in IT or engineering.May hold project management certifications like PMP or PRINCE2.

Technical project manager vs product manager

Both of these roles have a tech-specific focus, but their core responsibilities and end goals diverge. Technical project managers are focused on the project lifecycle, looking at delivery, timelines and budgets — whereas product managers are focused on the product lifecycle, through development, launch, and ongoing support. 

Technical project managerProduct manager
FocusManages specific projects within the organization.Oversees the entire lifecycle of a product.
ResponsibilitiesProject planning, resource allocation, timeline management, technical problem solving.Product vision, market research, feature definition, customer liaison.
End goalSuccessful project completion, on time and within budget.Successful product that meets market demands and drives business growth.
Stakeholder interactionFrequent collaboration with project teams, tech leads, and IT departments.Works with marketing, sales, customer support, and external customers.
Skill setProject management, technical expertise, problem-solving, and team leadership.Strategic thinking, market analysis, customer empathy, and communication.

A typical day in the life of a technical project manager

Let’s bring this all to life with a portrait of an average day in the role. Actual responsibilities will vary depending on the industry and project, but here are some broad strokes.


  • Check emails and updates: First thing’s first — catching up on the latest emails from your team, noting down anything that will affect the day ahead.
  • Conduct a daily standup meeting: Next, you might lead a brief meeting to discuss the day’s goals and challenges.
  • Review the project: You’ll spend some time reviewing the project timeline and budget, updating project management tools with the latest data.
  • Oversee technical bits: Depending on the project phase, this could involve checking code, testing software functionality (with the developers), or overseeing new feature deployment.


  • Meet with department heads: If you’re scheduled for a ‘meet ‘n’ eat’, you might catch up with department heads to make sure everything’s on track. 
  • Take a lunch break: Or you might just step away and take a breather.


  • Take a look at current risks: This might involve troubleshooting technical problems or brainstorming solutions with technical leads.
  • Update stakeholders: You might prepare and deliver progress reports to stakeholders, highlighting achievements, upcoming milestones, issues, or delays. Use project management software to give stakeholders limited access to progress reports — this saves you email updates while boosting transparency. 
  • Support the team: You’ll make yourself available to team members, helping them deal with any issues or questions that might crop up.

End of day

  • Plan for tomorrow: Typically, you’ll wrap up a day’s work by reviewing progress and planning for the following day.
  • Engage in professional development: Depending on your workload and personal career goals, you might spend some time reading industry news and learning new technologies. Or you might just head home for some R&R. 

Key skills every technical project manager needs

To really thrive in the role, you need a blend of technical prowess and project management skills. You also need to be personable, because you’ll need to build relationships with people across all levels of the business, sometimes with conflicting priorities. Don’t worry if you don’t have the full suite yet — these are all things you can cultivate. 

  • Be a tech nerd: Especially software development and network infrastructure. 
  • Know how to spin project plates: You’ll need to know about strategic planning, resource allocation, and risk management for starters. Knowing project management methodologies like Agile and Scrum will also come in handy.
  • Have top notch leadership skills: Leading and motivating a team sits at the heart of your job. You should be able to inspire, delegate, and help everyone hit those deadlines. 
  • Be a master communicator: You’ll need a particular knack for taking technical info and turning it into something the layperson can understand. 
  • Know how to solve a problem: Challenges are all part of the process. Technical project managers need to think critically to minimize disruptions.
  • Be able to bounce back: Speaking of problems — a technical project manager must be adaptable and resilient in the face of setbacks.
  • Have strong attention to detail: Given the complexity of technical projects, a keen attention to detail is a must to maintain quality.

How to become a technical project manager

Making it as a technical project manager calls for a combination of education, experience, and skill development. 

Step 1: Get the basics 

  • Get a degree: Start with a bachelor’s degree in a technical field like computer science, information technology or engineering. This gives you a solid foundation.
  • Think about further education: It’s not always necessary to get a Masters, but it certainly won’t hurt. Getting further qualifications in a project management or tech-related field will give you deeper insight. 

Step 2: Focus on experience 

  • Start in a technical role: Begin your career in a hands-on technical position, like software developer, network engineer, or IT analyst. This experience supplements your book learning with real life experience. 
  • Move into a project management role: Now it’s time to bring the two disciplines together. Look for opportunities to lead projects or parts of projects within your role. Starting small is ok! 

Step 3: Build on your skillset

  • Work on your technical skills: Stay updated with the latest tech. Continuous learning through courses and workshops will keep your technical skills sharp.
  • Build management skills: Develop skills in leadership, communication, and conflict resolution

Step 4: Get the major certifications

  • Project management certifications: Certifications like the Project Management Professional (PMP), CompTIA Project+, and PRINCE2 are the big ones.
  • Technical certifications: Depending on your specific technical field, working towards additional technical certifications is a good idea.

Step 5: Network and take your career to the next level

  • Build your professional network: Connect with other project managers and professionals in the tech industry. You might score mentorship opportunities and job offers in the process. At the very least, it gets your name out there while you learn.
  • Seek out higher responsibility: As you build your confidence, look for roles that offer more responsibility and the chance to manage larger projects or more complex technologies.

Backlog was made for technical project managers

With features for task tracking, code deployment, and live commenting, Backlog was made with technical project managers in mind. Oversee everything from one central hub, juggling developer code with stakeholder comments, and more. With key tasks automated and in one place, you can spend less time on updates, and more time leading the team to project (and product) success. Ready to take it for a spin? 



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