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Topics: Agile, Strategy, Talent Management
Project Manager vs Technical Project Manager
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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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I think TPM means you may have to be part of the technical project team and take some technical tasks along with your project manager role.
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1 reply by Adrian Carlogea
May 18, 2019 5:01 AM
Adrian Carlogea
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Not necessarily take tasks (some TPMs do work on actual tasks) but take technical decisions and check and review the work done by the project team. You can't really direct the work of others if you can't do the work yourself.

PMs that don't have technical background act more like facilitators than real decision makers. Some of them claim that technical background is not needed to successfully manage a project but in reality these PMs don't take too many decisions, that's why they can "manage" the project.
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Technical project managers act as an SME as well as they manage projects too if projects demands, they can be techno-commercial and they have a knowledge of technology as well as technical skill and project management. they are more expert in technical skill compare to PMs skill, Technical project managers has more weight than Just PMs, Also had more respect from internal teams and no one challenge/fool them easily.
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May 15, 2019 8:30 PM
Replying to Tarik Chougua
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I think TPM means you may have to be part of the technical project team and take some technical tasks along with your project manager role.
Not necessarily take tasks (some TPMs do work on actual tasks) but take technical decisions and check and review the work done by the project team. You can't really direct the work of others if you can't do the work yourself.

PMs that don't have technical background act more like facilitators than real decision makers. Some of them claim that technical background is not needed to successfully manage a project but in reality these PMs don't take too many decisions, that's why they can "manage" the project.
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1 reply by Stéphane Parent
May 18, 2019 5:27 AM
Stéphane Parent
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I've been a technical project manager most of my career. I don't believe that means I have to make the technical decisions. My role is to ensure that appropriate technical decisions are made with all considerations taken.
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May 18, 2019 5:01 AM
Replying to Adrian Carlogea
...
Not necessarily take tasks (some TPMs do work on actual tasks) but take technical decisions and check and review the work done by the project team. You can't really direct the work of others if you can't do the work yourself.

PMs that don't have technical background act more like facilitators than real decision makers. Some of them claim that technical background is not needed to successfully manage a project but in reality these PMs don't take too many decisions, that's why they can "manage" the project.
I've been a technical project manager most of my career. I don't believe that means I have to make the technical decisions. My role is to ensure that appropriate technical decisions are made with all considerations taken.
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1 reply by Adrian Carlogea
May 18, 2019 12:32 PM
Adrian Carlogea
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Yes but a "non-technical" PM does not understand the technical decisions taken by the experts and as such he is completely useless for the actual work being performed. This does not mean that he/she is useless for the project as a whole but just for the work being preformed on it.

A senior technical expert for example may decide to do a very high standard work that would take a long time to complete when a work with a lower standard but still high would be enough to complete the work faster and achieve the required quality. A non-technical PM can't direct the expert on how to do the work and as such he can't ensure the team finishes the work on time.
Network:89



May 18, 2019 5:27 AM
Replying to Stéphane Parent
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I've been a technical project manager most of my career. I don't believe that means I have to make the technical decisions. My role is to ensure that appropriate technical decisions are made with all considerations taken.
Yes but a "non-technical" PM does not understand the technical decisions taken by the experts and as such he is completely useless for the actual work being performed. This does not mean that he/she is useless for the project as a whole but just for the work being preformed on it.

A senior technical expert for example may decide to do a very high standard work that would take a long time to complete when a work with a lower standard but still high would be enough to complete the work faster and achieve the required quality. A non-technical PM can't direct the expert on how to do the work and as such he can't ensure the team finishes the work on time.
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Typically when an organization seeks a technical project manager is looking to fill two roles in one person, thus someone who can lead a project and also carry out hands on some of the project activities, as an SME. This is a practice that should be avoided by all the reasons already exposed by peers in previous postings.
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1 reply by Adrian Carlogea
May 19, 2019 7:33 AM
Adrian Carlogea
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The technical PM does not necessarily have to perform any of the working activities on the project. He just needs to have the knowledge and the skills some of the team members have.

This is crucial otherwise the PM can't direct the team members, can't check and review the work being done and in the end he can't ensure the work is delivered on time.

When it comes to managing the team a non-technical PM is just a tracker and a messenger and not a real manager or leader for the team. This is not theory is something that I have noticed.
Network:686



Thank you for all your thoughts.
By reading the ideas shared, It is apparent that the two are different roles.

I am clear with the Project manager role, as that is what I do. I am a technical person too but I never called myself as a technical project manager as I manage diverse and hybrid projects and programs ranging from process improvements to technology implementations and transformations in the financial, healthcare and workforce management industries. Projects are unique and they vary a lot. I am not an expert of all technologies and I cannot limit what I do to what technologies I know and that is the beauty of project management. Projects may include many things and are not limited to technology related executions. Project managers should be able to manage any project their companies decide to undertake. A part of managing a project is defining human resource requirements which may include the identification/engagement of SME's already working for the company or the hiring of SME's. Project management is a transferable skill. But of course, experience and related skill sets are best in considering for a PM from a pool of PM's. But if you already have a PM and you want to initiate a project that is unfortunately something new for your existing PM, would you get a new PM with the matching technology savviness or would it make more sense to look for SME's to work with the PM?

Thanks a lot. :)
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1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
May 19, 2019 5:13 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
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The answer to your last question is not at all. The problem is something the most of project manager always forget. The first thing to do at the time zero you are assigned to a new project not matter the project is inside your organization is something called "elicitation" where you have to prepare for the assignement. There are defined process to do that (for example CMU SEI) but it does mean you have to get knowledge about the domain (in my case I use the Zachman framework row 1 as a checklist about the things I have to take into account), the stakeholders in that domain (in my case I use SPIN Selling as a guide about what things to know), the environment (in my case I use PESTLE analysis and Porter´s five forces), the goods and services similar the ones we will create with the project (product is defined by a function which has three main components). With all that in hand I can understand everything we need to understand to do my job as project/program manager. Will I be an expert? Not at all, I could be in one of the layers that comprises the solucion, but not in others. But what I will do is to bring to the table all experts and to talk and understand what they are saying to me. The big problem with some project managers is to believe they have to take decisions on items that are not project management itself. And they fail.
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May 19, 2019 1:59 AM
Replying to Joseph Pangan
...
Thank you for all your thoughts.
By reading the ideas shared, It is apparent that the two are different roles.

I am clear with the Project manager role, as that is what I do. I am a technical person too but I never called myself as a technical project manager as I manage diverse and hybrid projects and programs ranging from process improvements to technology implementations and transformations in the financial, healthcare and workforce management industries. Projects are unique and they vary a lot. I am not an expert of all technologies and I cannot limit what I do to what technologies I know and that is the beauty of project management. Projects may include many things and are not limited to technology related executions. Project managers should be able to manage any project their companies decide to undertake. A part of managing a project is defining human resource requirements which may include the identification/engagement of SME's already working for the company or the hiring of SME's. Project management is a transferable skill. But of course, experience and related skill sets are best in considering for a PM from a pool of PM's. But if you already have a PM and you want to initiate a project that is unfortunately something new for your existing PM, would you get a new PM with the matching technology savviness or would it make more sense to look for SME's to work with the PM?

Thanks a lot. :)
The answer to your last question is not at all. The problem is something the most of project manager always forget. The first thing to do at the time zero you are assigned to a new project not matter the project is inside your organization is something called "elicitation" where you have to prepare for the assignement. There are defined process to do that (for example CMU SEI) but it does mean you have to get knowledge about the domain (in my case I use the Zachman framework row 1 as a checklist about the things I have to take into account), the stakeholders in that domain (in my case I use SPIN Selling as a guide about what things to know), the environment (in my case I use PESTLE analysis and Porter´s five forces), the goods and services similar the ones we will create with the project (product is defined by a function which has three main components). With all that in hand I can understand everything we need to understand to do my job as project/program manager. Will I be an expert? Not at all, I could be in one of the layers that comprises the solucion, but not in others. But what I will do is to bring to the table all experts and to talk and understand what they are saying to me. The big problem with some project managers is to believe they have to take decisions on items that are not project management itself. And they fail.
Network:89



May 18, 2019 2:43 PM
Replying to Eduard Hernandez
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Typically when an organization seeks a technical project manager is looking to fill two roles in one person, thus someone who can lead a project and also carry out hands on some of the project activities, as an SME. This is a practice that should be avoided by all the reasons already exposed by peers in previous postings.
The technical PM does not necessarily have to perform any of the working activities on the project. He just needs to have the knowledge and the skills some of the team members have.

This is crucial otherwise the PM can't direct the team members, can't check and review the work being done and in the end he can't ensure the work is delivered on time.

When it comes to managing the team a non-technical PM is just a tracker and a messenger and not a real manager or leader for the team. This is not theory is something that I have noticed.
Network:2251



As a systems engineer I was asked to lead a datacenter migration project in 1987. I was lucky and successful, building strong on communications. After that I decided to switch my profession to project management, dealing with people and less technology. I cut all ties to technology and focused on my target, bringing in technical SMEs even if I could have done it myself (I thought). Four eyes see more than two and when the going gets tough it is good to have someone cover your back.
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