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Topics: Agile, Strategy, Talent Management
Project Manager vs Technical Project Manager
What is the difference between a Project Manager and a Technical Project Manager?
What do recruiters really mean when they say they are in need of a Technical Project Manager?
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The difference? All Technical Project Managers are Project Managers, but not all Project Managers are technical Project Managers.

Technical Project Managers are usually more aligned to the IT industry, where they understand the technicalities and inner workings of this industry, more like techno consultants with Project Management experience.
Hi Joseph,

Being a technical project manager i will try to elaborate the role. Technical project manager gets/needs to handle the projects preferably in the same technology/domain he/she has worked/handled teams in the career. The role extends just from project/people management to technical poc to customer sometimes and occasionally need to pitch in for brainstorming along with team during estimation or actual work too. Multitasking jd is the callout here. Usual to small teams but depends on the ecosystem again.

When the team is big and has enough technical leaders or those who can drive technical part with ease then only core project management skills are required without the same technology expertise.

Hope it clarifies
Technical project manager means that you should have good technical knowledge.
I agree @Stanley, Technical project managers (TPM) are project managers(PM) with an additional layer of technical knowledge, expertise and competencies.
A TPM for example, manages project aspects related to performance, reliability, and availability, requirements that the project must meet.
In industries such as software projects, technical requirements refer to the make of the software, which language it's programmed in, the operating system it's created for, standards it must meet, etc.
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1 reply by Salem M. Alanzi
Jul 17, 2019 1:50 AM
Salem M. Alanzi
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totally agreed, "in some cases" technical project manager report to the project manager.
The worst thing we can do as project management practitioners is to accept that there is a existence of somethingproject manager. That´s contributes to general confusion and that´s jeopardize the work of all of us but mainly the intentions of people that are trying to find a new job.There are a lot of people like me that have led projects in multiple domains thanks never accept to thing that we are somethingproject managers.
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1 reply by Thomas Walenta
May 15, 2019 5:00 PM
Thomas Walenta
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Fully agree Sergio.
There are many companies who have TPMs and that means PMs are also the specialists in technology. As a result you get a hybrid who often fails, because 4 eyes see more than 2 and two roles in crisis mode are too much.
While it is generally accepted that the term refers to a combination of technical and PM job roles, what it actually means is completely up to the organization. I frequently see job listings that use terms with an industry standard definition totally different from the posted job. Just like the term PM, it is different things to different people.

The term is frequently used outside IT, and can have a lot of other names that blend some kind of technical term with project term depending on what they emphasize: project engineer, project technical leader, project integration manager, technical project manager, and project manager can all mean the same, or different. How much technical involvement and to what degree is totally dependent as well. If it's a team of 5, a core knowledge of a subject might be far more valuable than a team of 100, with a dozen distinct technologies involved.
It’s a common practice to put the “desired domain knowledge area” in front of the “Project Manager” position title. For example: IT, Engineering, Healthcare, Construction (domain - Project Manager). At times, these posted position titles are simply referring to a functional role, and the actual HR title may be something different.

I’m a Project Manager, even though my formal HR title does not represent it. In fact, I have never had a formal title of Project Manager in my nearly 40 years working in varied industries, but yet – I’m a Project Manager and proud to state it simply that way.

Having domain knowledge is not a sin, and should be sought after by project managers at a level that I refer to as “architectural awareness”. However, at ALL times regardless of the knowledge I have in a given domain, I am simply a “project manager” – nothing else. Domain knowledge for a project manager simply allows you to Understand, Interpret and Communicate within domain(s), it does NOT make you a subject matter expert, it simply means that you are able to navigate the domains you are engaging in as the traditional Project Manager. If you are interested, there’s a new article posted in the career development section on this subject.
I agree with George Freeman. Actually, "Technical " domain is general terminology. It doesn't tell you what specific technology you would have to manage. You would need to go through the job description to get better understanding of it.
A TPM may have to be experienced and familiar with all technical requirements of the project he will be leading , even be certified or trained in technology in addition to the project management skill.
May 15, 2019 9:42 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
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The worst thing we can do as project management practitioners is to accept that there is a existence of somethingproject manager. That´s contributes to general confusion and that´s jeopardize the work of all of us but mainly the intentions of people that are trying to find a new job.There are a lot of people like me that have led projects in multiple domains thanks never accept to thing that we are somethingproject managers.
Fully agree Sergio.
There are many companies who have TPMs and that means PMs are also the specialists in technology. As a result you get a hybrid who often fails, because 4 eyes see more than 2 and two roles in crisis mode are too much.
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1 reply by MAURICIO CORRAL
Jul 28, 2019 9:02 PM
MAURICIO CORRAL
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A project manager specializing in certain science can be effective in certain subjects. For example the construction of surgery rooms, urban planning, web application development, among other topics that require some expertise.
Perhaps the hybrid you are referring to makes mistakes because of its own work deficiencies, and not because it performs two roles at the same time.
Regards,
Mauricio
The problem alluded by Thomas is when a project manager is asked to also the product manager. I've had the pleasure of managing project where the product manager was someone else. We can have great discussions and debate based on our difering accountability. If you have to do both... Well, you know the story of serving two masters.
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