Project Management

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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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Having more than one hat is not good.

Is it a way to reduce ressource or a title to justify different pay grade?

Just create confusion and reduce recognition like stated by Sergio, Thomas....
Jul 20, 2019 11:53 AM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
...
Adrian,
I left behind technical capacity in 1988 and ran projects since acting as pure business PM. My reality.

I solved the situation you describe by having an architect and installing the checks and balances to make sure any key decisions are checked by a second pair of eyes. And yes, given the input from these at least 2 specialist, I reserved the right to make the final decision. The buck stops with the PM, as long there is accountability.

Also team checks work or a quality function.
Thank you for you message Thomas.

In my opinion people should not be allowed to take work related decisions if they don't have good knowledge in that specific line of work.

This is where the PM in my example made the mistake. If you don't have the proper technical background you should not get involved in technical decisions at all. Also she was too quick to accept the developer's response but this was because she couldn't challenge it as she lacked the required technical expertise. If this had been a real scenario most likely she wouldn't have known what a web service is in the first place.

The developer also made a mistake as he should have never committed so quickly to the PMs request. The fact that the PMs usually have no formal authority over the project team members is a big advantage as the team members can reject the PMs requests and take the right decisions.

Unfortunately software developers don't do this too often and are too quick to commit to work without too much analysis even when nobody puts pressure on them.

PMs with no technical background "feel" the project differently that those that are performing the actual work. If there is no technical PM or overall technical lead on the project then functional managers should supervise their direct reports and ensure they don't end up adding technical risk to the project or perform useless work.

Letting non-technical people alone to manage projects may end up in something like this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg . That's a real funny sketch I recommend you to watch it. This is what some project team members have to suffer when talking with non-technical PMs about their work. :P
Thank you for you message Thomas.

In my opinion people should not be allowed to take work related decisions if they don't have good knowledge in that specific line of work.

This is where the PM in my example made the mistake. If you don't have the proper technical background you should not get involved in technical decisions at all. Also she was too quick to accept the developer's response but this was because she couldn't challenge it as she lacked the required technical expertise. If this had been a real scenario most likely she wouldn't have known what a web service is in the first place.

The developer also made a mistake as he should have never committed so quickly to the PMs request. The fact that the PMs usually have no formal authority over the project team members is a big advantage as the team members can reject the PMs requests and take the right decisions.

Unfortunately software developers don't do this too often and are too quick to commit to work without too much analysis even when nobody puts pressure on them.

PMs with no technical background "feel" the project differently that those that are performing the actual work. If there is no technical PM or overall technical lead on the project then functional managers should supervise their direct reports and ensure they don't end up adding technical risk to the project or perform useless work.

Letting non-technical people alone to manage projects may end up in something like this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg . That's a real funny sketch I recommend you to watch it. This is what some project team members have to suffer when talking with non-technical PMs about their work. :P
Jul 20, 2019 10:53 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
Adrian, what you describe is not managing activities. That is the point. In fact, I have a Ph.D in Software Engineering earned in Cargnegie Mellon University. Each time I am managing a project where software/it people is involved i do not talk about things that are technical or related to software/IT in the same way they do not talk about things related to project management not matter they know about it. In the actual world is not way to survive as project manager if people do not understand that a project manager is like an orchestra director: you have to know about how to integrate all the players, to do that you have to know about each instrument including how to play it, BUT you must not be the expert and, if yoiu see how the orchestra director work with the orchestra, you will find that she/he never take decisions about how to play a particular instrument. That´s rest in the hand of people who will play the instrument. As I mentioned, I am not saying that you do not need to have knowledge on the matter. That is stupidity. On the other side, the key element to be successful is trust in people who are the subject matter expert. That do not mean that thanks your project management knowledge you will not review the way the subject matter expert get the estimations and all related. In the first part of your post the project manager is not doing her/his work.
Thank you for the message Sergio.

The PM does not necessarily have to be the best expert in everything related to the work the project team members are doing. This would be impossible. Functional Managers are not such experts either. Not to mention that many project teams are cross-functional.

In order to be credible as a project team leader the PM must have worked as a productive project team member in similar projects. If it is a software development project the PM must be a former developer, QA analysts or BA.

Becoming a PM should always be a promotion and the PM most be either the most senior employee on the project team or among the most senior.

Nowadays it is possible to start your career as a junior project manager and manage projects with team members that are more senior than you and at a much higher pay. I saw a case in which a 24-25 years PM was "managing" a project were all the team members were more senior than her in the organization and one of them was a line manager in his 60s. It would be ridiculous to assume that in this circumstance you can lead the project team. In order to be a leader you need experience.

PMs with no previous work experience in a domain related to the project, when it comes to working with the project teams they just ask for tasks progress and pass messages to the team from other stakeholders. When it comes for them to take decisions they always ask someone from the team to take the decision and they blindly accept it without even understanding it.

Hope this is more clear and you now do understand what I wanted to say.
May 15, 2019 5:00 PM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
...
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.
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
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