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Project Manager Roles And Responsibilities In Software

Project Manager Roles And Responsibilities In Software – Demand for technical project managers has increased. Some important questions have arisen for the PM in software development. What are the responsibilities and expectations involved in this role? And how is technical “technical”?

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Project Manager Roles And Responsibilities In Software

Project Manager Roles And Responsibilities In Software

What is a Technical Project Manager (TPM)? Experienced IT consultant and business operations expert Andy Blackwell says the answer depends on who you ask. As Lead Director of Project and Product Management, Blackwell leads a team responsible for matching highly skilled project managers across a freelance network with organizations seeking top talent for specific initiatives. In recent years, he has seen an increase in demand for TPM.

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“There’s certainly some debate across the tech industry about what that term actually means,” Blackwell says. Blackwell says, “There are a lot of people who call themselves technical project managers because they’ve worked very closely with the engineering team or from a project management perspective. The technical team, but that’s not what we’re looking for.”

Its definition is more precise. All of the network’s project managers are experts in traditional project management skills such as scoping, budgeting and timeline management, as well as agile software development practices related to iterative delivery and continuous improvement. They have always worked closely with engineers and, if called upon, can coach and mentor the Scrum team.

To qualify as a TPM, however, they must have additional experience beyond managing agile processes and collaborating with developers: they must be developers.

Companies large and small are increasingly interested in this unique combination of skills. “Most startups can’t afford to hire someone who can only do one thing,” says Blackwell, and large enterprises want to see “developer” or “architect” in a candidate’s profile if they’re hiring for an engineering project.

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Even in cases where the client doesn’t specifically need a project manager with a technical background, checking the “developer” box is a key selling point. Someone who can plan and execute software projects, implement and optimize agile processes and code? It is a great blessing.

In reality, however, TPM is not expected to code—many haven’t been coding for years. So, why is programming experience necessary?

Blackwell says that TPM is necessary for technical decision-making: “If you don’t have at least some recent experience with a modern technology stack, SDK (software development kit), architecture, or test automation platform, you won’t be able to make the right decisions. You won’t have credibility with the client because you haven’t used these things before.

Project Manager Roles And Responsibilities In Software

Demonstrating credibility to a potential client is an important factor in securing an engagement, but it’s only the first hurdle. Once assigned to a project, TPM must quickly gain the trust and respect of the technical team.

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Michael Poythress started programming as a teenager. At age 16, he created a commercial website for the real estate advertising business he started with his father. Since then he has been the CEO and founder of several startups. In 2018, he joined the network as a TPM and now works closely with the engineering team. “If I had no coding experience, the programmers would pick it up,” he says. “They won’t shoot straight with me. But if I challenge them and talk to them as a colleague, there will be respect and rapport.”

And it’s technology experience that counts more than a title, says Ellen Takatsuka, TPM based in Orange County, California: “From what I’ve seen, the ‘T’ in TPM doesn’t really carry any weight for engineers. They think it’s just another project manager who’s going to set up meetings and ask them to fill out spreadsheets.”

However, once common ground is established, “the flavor of the interaction is very different. It’s more of a partnership with engineering,” he says.

Takatsuka led engineering teams decades earlier in his career. He credits that experience for honing his soft skills. “It’s a different empathy skill,” he says. “You have to show that you can speak the language. You might say, ‘I can see why you’re having these challenges based on technical issues.’

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Dan Allen, a technology consultant in Vienna, Virginia, describes his career progression from “guy-in-the-cubicle programmer to technical leadership architect, director, VP, CTO, CIO.” He has been busy working with 14 clients since joining the network as a TPM in 2019.

“I rarely read code. I almost never write code,” he says. “But there are situations where developers get stuck. They can walk me through the architecture and I can see exactly what they’re trying to do and the logic.

He sees dynamics as effective not only at the edges but more broadly. “Your team knows they can come to you and talk, and you really understand what they’re saying,” he says. “You can help them consider all the complexities if they miss something. You can be a sounding board and give feedback.”

Project Manager Roles And Responsibilities In Software

Such feedback and insight are more important than building a relationship. TPM offers a distinct value proposition to the organization. They act less as carriers of information and more as sources of knowledge. Yes, they plan, coordinate and communicate, but they also help clients and teams work through complex technical decisions.

Technical Project Manager Job Description

“You have the ability to give opinions technically,” Takatsuka said. “And it adds value to the organization because now you have a multiplier effect, as opposed to just organizing and collaborating.”

Takatsuka notes that solving TPM problems requires less hoops to jump through. Especially in large organizations, a non-technical program or project manager may approach a technical challenge by identifying relevant players and stakeholders, proposing context, gathering information, and then examining the results to make decisions. TPM can withstand their own knowledge.

“You can deal with risk more effectively,” says Ona Siherian, a Tokyo-based TPM. “And those threats can come from many places. They can come from miscalculations on the team. So you can say, ‘Okay, I’m sure I’m going to write this code. It won’t take a week’ because it’s actually two days. So you can actually unblock people. Because you see that they’re stuck and that’s why they’re taking five days. You know that because you’ve been there and you’ve been stuck yourself.

Siherian started his career as a developer but soon moved into project management wanting to be involved in the bigger picture. In these roles, however, he found that he missed coding. Technical project management offers the best of both worlds, he says: “It allows me to get real hands-on with the technology but stay at a high level with understanding the business and customers and what they want in features.”

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Even Poythres seems to have found his sweet spot. “I’m a translator or visionary communicating between people who have an idea and the technical geniuses who know how to make it happen and make it happen,” he says. “I speak both languages ​​well. I say ‘common man’ and I say ‘technical-ec’.

TPMs working for startups and small businesses are especially important at the intersection of business and technology. In this engagement, the TPM is often the first hire to come on board at the start of the project. He is then responsible for evaluating product functionality, defining technical opportunities and requirements, and helping the client (sometimes a single founder with an idea seed) select a technology stack, evaluate vendors for service delivery, implement DevOps best practices. And assemble the right team.

Takatsuka thinks of these alliances as “mini CTO” roles, where TPM connects business and technical areas to get things off the ground. Some customers know nothing about software development, they say: “How can I set up shop? I read quickly. How do I do that?”

Project Manager Roles And Responsibilities In Software

Poythress sees the two roles as overlapping, in some cases even mutually exclusive. “There’s a lot of cross-pollination,” he says. “A CTO for a small organization can easily move into a senior technology PM role at a large organization and feel right at home.”

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While virtually any project manager with software development experience has the mechanics of agility in their wheelhouse, someone with technical expertise can bring a more nuanced perspective to process management.

Siherian finds that agile methods are never strictly applied by the book; They must be customized, blended and adapted to the specific needs of the team and project.

“You have to make sure that the process you’re designing doesn’t interfere with developers’ work and actually makes them more efficient or productive,” he says. “Sometimes that means going deeper into the GitHub workflow, for example, to see how they do their commits, to see how they branch their code, and to see if your process fits with them.

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