Organizations experience change constantly. Often it stems from chasing new opportunities, adjusting to market conditions or satisfying client demands.
Whatever the reason why, success depends on many factors. Culture, strategy and execution often top the list. The role of technical program manager, or TPM, plays a critical shaping “how” strategy is implemented.
The Ultimate Guide to Project Management and Technical Program Management
Behind every successful outcome or strategic initiative is one or more project managers making this happen.
Companies hire technical project managers because technology is essential for efficient everyday operations.
The importance of building the right thing in the right way
In today’s fast-paced market, most organizations are trying to work in shorter cycles – delivering more projects on time and under budget.
Technical program manager help you build the right thing that will satisfy your customers and impact the market
TPMs often work with engineers to establish technology and product architecture for companies. For example, they take the time to understand the business outcomes required for success. They analyze the use cases, the workflows, the algorithms, and the user interface design required to get the job done.
The role directs all aspects of a project, from defining its requirements to evaluating the finished product. It may oversee one or many projects depending on the scope and organization.
Things everyone should know
Even though the scope and responsibilities of TPMs can vary across companies, there are several axioms about the role you should know:
Unlike other project management-related roles, TPMs can operate independently of engineers. TPMs have the technical expertise to come up with solutions without involving engineers, saving everyone time.
Below are three differences that set TPMs apart from traditional project managers:
- TPMs dive deep to solve problems. This could mean digging into code, data, logs, system documentation and design, etc.
- TPMs strive to discover new approaches to solving complex problems.
- TPMs engage in architecture conversations and peer around corners to help teams understand the implications of decisions.
Responsibilities with big business impact
Technical program managers are in charge of handling all aspects of one to many technical projects for their organization; they:
- Work the full life-cycle of projects from idea generation through deployment and optimize the full release value stream
Initiate programs, driving delivery to completion, and providing support in case issues arise
- Negotiate scope and timelines with technical dependencies that have to make changes to support the launch of a product
- Work with companies that have adopted or are adopting modern technologies, such as SOA (service oriented architecture) and microservices
- Establish the technologies, tools, and processes that can move an organization towards Continuous Integration and Deployment and a DevOps operating model.
- Involve themselves in non-functional aspects of software delivery such as application telemetry, performance, reliability, resilience, security and compliance.
Avoid common misconceptions
There’s a tendency for people to gravitate toward extremes when conceptualizing technical program managers. For instance, they are often described as either always participating in coding or not at all.
The truth is there is a spectrum of technical depth among TPMs. Oftentimes it varies by project. Some projects require a leader with just enough technical depth to understand technology architecture and trade-offs.
Other projects support deeply technical products that require in-depth understanding of architecture, logging, configuration and code.
Often there is a middle ground. Asking detailed questions is critical to understand the business need and to make sure the right person is in the role.
You can use third-parties for TPM support
The list of scenarios for outsourced TPM support is long – and growing everyday. Here are four we see regularly:
Back Office Operations
Some of the most common services that organizations ask for are data entry, tech support, marketing, human resources and accounts payable. These areas require process clarity, documentation and repeatability for day-to-day operations to function efficiently.
Use of expert TPM resources can both improve the performance of a company’s applications and reduce costs by freeing up human resources. Since maintenance costs are high, companies often do not have large budgets available to invest in strategic projects and new innovations.
Software Testing and Quality Assurance
In this case, the company can use third-party TPM expertise to assist with the practice of testing-related tasks. Examples include support for a one-time project, assisting an internal QA team that lack specialized skills, or augmenting a team over-burdened with other work.
In this scenario, a company hires a TPM expert to direct all the tasks of a software project. The concept is more popular now than ever. Many companies tend to choose TPM to get fast, effective, flexible, cost-efficient, and successful software development projects.
Learn more about our TPM services
We provide strategic consulting, project management and project delivery services to clients across the United States. We take time to understand your business and build out achievable, practical plans for you to meet your goals.
Our years of experience managing projects means our experience can help your business thrive. To learn more about how we can help your organization, learn about our project management and strategy consulting services.
Ready now? Schedule some time to talk to one of our experts today.