The Product Path

What Does a Technical Product Manager Do?


Salil Sethi


In today's rapidly evolving tech landscape, the role of a Technical Product Manager (TPM) has become increasingly critical. With technology at the core of almost every product and service, understanding the intricacies of this role can provide valuable insights for companies looking to innovate and stay ahead in their respective industries.

This article will delve deep into the realm of the TPM, exploring their responsibilities, skills, and the impact they have on a product's journey from conception to launch.

The Core of Technical Product Management

At its heart, the role of a Technical Product Manager involves bridging the gap between the technical and business worlds.
A TPM must have a solid understanding of the technological aspects of the product, as well as the business acumen to understand market needs and strategize accordingly.

This dual focus enables them to guide the development team in building products that meet technical standards, fulfill customer needs, and drive business growth.

Strategic Vision and Product Roadmapping

One of the primary responsibilities of a TPM is defining the strategic vision for a product. This involves conducting market research, identifying customer needs, and understanding the competitive landscape. Armed with this information, a TPM crafts a product roadmap, outlining the timeline and key milestones for the product's development.

This roadmap guides the development team, ensuring everyone is aligned on the product's objectives and timeline.

Storytime: Let's illustrate the importance of strategic vision and product roadmapping with a story from the trenches.

Sophia, a Technical Product Manager at a burgeoning fintech startup, faced the daunting task of breaking into the crowded mobile payments market.

Unlike her peers who rushed towards feature-heavy releases, Sophia took a step back to meticulously research and understand her target users' pain points.

Armed with insights gathered from user interviews and market analysis, she crafted a lean, focused product roadmap that prioritized ease of use and security—a response to the overwhelming feedback about existing solutions being too complicated and feeling unsafe.

Under her guidance, the development team launched a beta version that resonated well with early users, thanks to its simplicity and robust security features.

Sophia's strategic vision differentiated her product in a saturated market and established a loyal user base eager for the full release.

Technical Oversight and Project Management

Technical oversight is a critical function of the TPM. This involves working closely with the development team to ensure that the product's technical aspects align with the strategic vision. A TPM must be deeply involved in the development process, from reviewing code to ensuring that the technology stack is appropriate for the product's goals.

Additionally, they play a key project management role, coordinating between different teams, managing timelines, and ensuring that the project stays on track.

Storytime: Jake's story best explains the critical role of technical oversight and project management in a TPM's job.

Jake, a seasoned Technical Product Manager, found himself at the helm of a challenging project: integrating an AI-driven recommendation engine into an existing e-commerce platform.

The project's technical complexities were compounded by a tight timeline and a team unaccustomed to working with machine learning technologies. Jake rolled up his sleeves, diving deep into the technical details, facilitating knowledge-sharing sessions, and setting up a transparent project management system that tracked progress against the roadmap.

His hands-on approach demystified the technology for his team and kept the project on track, leading to a successful on-time launch.

The new feature was a hit, significantly boosting user engagement and sales, a testament to Jake's effective blend of technical oversight and meticulous project management.

Stakeholder Communication and Collaboration

Effective communication and collaboration with stakeholders are crucial for a TPM. This includes working closely with internal teams such as development, design, and marketing and external stakeholders like customers and partners.

A TPM acts as a liaison, ensuring that all parties are informed and engaged throughout the product development process. This involves translating technical details into business language for non-technical stakeholders and advocating for customer needs within the development team.

Storytime: The essence of stakeholder communication and collaboration comes alive in the story of Amina, a Technical Product Manager in the healthcare sector.

Amina was tasked with leading the development of a new patient management system designed to streamline operations for a network of clinics.

She quickly realized the project's success hinged not just on the development team's efforts but also on buy-in from clinic staff and administrators—groups with historically little engagement in the clinic's tech development process.

Amina organized a series of workshops and regular update meetings, creating a forum for dialogue where concerns could be aired and suggestions made.

Her efforts to demystify the technical aspects, solicit feedback, and actively incorporate it into the development process transformed potential skeptics into project champions.

When the system rolled out, it was met with enthusiasm rather than resistance, a direct result of Amina's commitment to inclusive and transparent communication.

Data-Driven Decision Making

A TPM relies heavily on data to make informed decisions. This includes data from market research, user feedback, performance metrics, and more. By analyzing this data, a TPM can identify trends, opportunities, and areas for improvement. This data-driven approach ensures that product decisions are grounded in reality and aligned with market needs and business objectives.

The power of data-driven decision-making becomes particularly clear in the context of innovative HR tech products, like the one-way video interview platform I had the chance to develop.

Personal anecdote: In the rapidly evolving HR tech space, I spearheaded the development of a one-way video interview platform, aiming to revolutionize the initial screening process. Initially, the product received mixed feedback, with users praising its efficiency but pointing out a lack of personal touch and flexibility in the interview experience.

Leveraging data analytics, we dug into user behavior and feedback, identifying a strong need for customizable question banks and a more interactive interface that could simulate a two-way interaction.

Acting on these insights, we iterated on the product, introducing AI-driven features that allowed interviewers to pre-set follow-up questions based on the candidate's responses.

This update enhanced user satisfaction and significantly improved our platform's adoption rate among leading tech firms, reaffirming the critical role of data in shaping user-centric products. This experience underscored the dynamic nature of product management and the importance of aligning technology with human elements to meet market needs.

Continuous Learning and Adaptation

The tech industry is known for its rapid pace of change, and a TPM must be committed to continuous learning and adaptation. This involves staying up-to-date with the latest technological advancements, industry trends, and best practices in product management. A successful TPM always looks for ways to improve the product, the development process, and their skills.

Storytime: The journey of continuous learning and adaptation is vividly captured in the career progression of Leo, a Technical Product Manager in the gaming industry.

Leo started his career as a game developer with a deep passion for creating engaging gaming experiences. However, as he transitioned into a Technical Product Manager role, he quickly realized that his technical skills, while essential, were not enough. The industry was evolving rapidly, with new gaming trends and technologies emerging almost daily. Leo embraced the challenge, dedicating time each day to read industry news, attend workshops, and experiment with new technologies.

His willingness to learn and adapt kept his team at the forefront of gaming innovation and inspired them to adopt a similar mindset.

Leo's story is a testament to the power of continuous learning, showing how it can lead to personal growth, team inspiration, and the successful steering of products through the ever-changing tech landscape.

The Impact of a Technical Product Manager

The influence of a TPM extends far beyond the immediate product development team. By ensuring that products are technically sound, meet market needs, and are delivered on time, TPMs play a pivotal role in a company's success. They drive innovation, enable businesses to respond to changing market dynamics, and ultimately contribute to the bottom line.

Furthermore, TPMs help foster a culture of collaboration and innovation within the organization. Their unique position at the intersection of technology and business encourages cross-functional teams to work together towards a common goal. This collaborative environment leads to better products and enhances team morale and job satisfaction.


In conclusion, the role of a Technical Product Manager is multifaceted and vital to the success of technology-driven products. By combining technical expertise with strategic vision, project management skills, and effective communication, TPMs guide products from concept to launch, ensuring they meet both technical standards and market needs. As technology continues to drive change across all sectors, the role of the TPM will only grow in importance, making it a key driver of innovation and business success.

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, the need for skilled Technical Product Managers cannot be overstated. Companies looking to thrive in this dynamic environment would do well to invest in talented TPMs who can navigate the complexities of product development and drive their products—and their businesses—forward.

For those considering a career as a TPM or companies looking to hire one, it's clear that the role requires a unique blend of skills and a passion for both technology and business. The rewards, however, are substantial, with the opportunity to shape the future of products that could redefine markets and enrich lives.

Note: The names and companies in the stories are fictional; however, they reflect realistic situations that technical product managers face. These stories serve as illustrative examples, drawing upon common scenarios and dilemmas that product managers encounter, such as crafting compelling product roadmaps, leading cross-functional teams, making data-driven decisions, and committing to continuous learning. By presenting these challenges within the framework of fictional narratives, we aim to offer insights and lessons that are universally applicable, regardless of the specific industry or product focus.

February 9, 2024