A technical manager, as the name suggests, has to do the balancing act of managing technical processes and teams along with using his technical skills to provide the necessary environment for project success. The job of a technical manager is highly complex and requires efficiency in both technical as well as management fields. Organizations have several kinds of managerial roles across departments like human resource, finance, operations, procurement, logistics, design etc.
However, the technical manager is a class apart, as he must don several hats of proficiently handling teams, estimate project budgets, schedule project timelines, arrange for resources and also help in solving technical problems as and when needed. They are responsible for project planning, setting targets and deliverables, making decisions and brining in business too. While the concept of a technical manager is predominant in the software or IT industry, they are also highly wanted in industries like telecom, automotive, media etc. and processes as complex as finance and accounting or manufacturing. In fact, this course can help show you how to get hired as a Technical Product Manager.
Technical Managers are in great demand across industry verticals and organizations essentially need them to lead technology development activities, manage projects and technical resources and bridge the gap between technology and management. If you are a software developer or testing professional and looking for a managerial position or seeking promotion to the middle-management level, then the role of a technical manager will surely interest you. In our discussion here, we’ll touch upon the basic job description of a technical manager and how one can land a job as a manager in the technology domain.
As stated earlier, the roles and responsibilities of a technical manager encompass several functions right from planning, scheduling, budgeting, leading technical teams and projects, providing technical expertise, managing client requirements etc. Here is a sample job description of a Technical Manager to give you an idea on the work expectations from a manager in the technical domain:
1. Technical Expertise
- Proficient in handling the most complex of technical development concepts, latest software tools and technologies, strong database concepts and designing techniques.
- Understands different programming languages and ability to solve problems in coding, testing and deployment.
- Possesses good knowledge of different software systems, client/server architectures and various compatibility requirements.
- Experience in troubleshooting, software development processes and ability to understand and implement client requirements.
2. Management Skills
- Ability to communicate effectively with teams and clients
- Understand project requirements, coordinate with resources and direct the projects in the right direction in a timely manner
- Ability to manage change and effectively pass on the information down the line to concerned teams for smoother execution
- Delegate and allocate responsibilities efficiently to manage projects end to end
[Tip: Agile management practices can help you run large run-time projects more smoothly. You may want to take this introduction to Agile and Scrum methodology to help you get started.]
- Effectively lead teams and inspire others to achieve goals through innovation, quality and excellence
- Ability to identify strengths and weaknesses of team members and suitably make changes if required
- Resource management skills and ability to handle complex / sensitive issues
- Encourage team interaction, boost employee motivation and appreciate team contribution
- Ability to match project tasks with opportunities for development so that employee potential is utilised to the maximum
[Tip : If you’re new to management, this course can show you how to transition to a leadership role]
Roles and Responsibilities
- Must ensure teams follow the correct procedures, policies and documentation requirements across project phases
- Able to guide the team through the development, testing and implementation stages and review the completed work effectively
- Provide direction and technical expertise in design, development and systems integration
- Able to make quick decisions and solve technical problems to provide an efficient environment for project implementation
- Identify resource and equipment requirements, efficient capacity planning and manage software and hardware availability
- Must provide technical training to teams when required and serve as a technical mentor to team members
- Ensure standard operating procedures and project guidelines are in place
- Task allocation and performance evaluation of team members
- Project scheduling and resource management
- Planning, budgeting and reporting on projects [Tip: Take this introductory course to learn effective project management]
- Make presentations on project status, present monthly and annual reports to senior management
- Meet with client teams and gather requirements, conduct regular team meetings and track project progress
- Interview candidates and hire resources
- Conduct performance reviews of team members and identify areas of improvement, give feedback and recommend for promotions or salary increments
- Estimate project budgets, coordinate with finance department for funds and plan for purchasing of equipment and hardware in a cost-effective way
- Provide an efficient working atmosphere to project teams and ensure objectives are met within stipulated time
This is just a sample job description of a technical manager in the software industry. Job requirements vary according to the industry and complexity of projects that are handled by the businesses.
Technical managers usually bring years of expertise in a particular domain and are expected to lead from the front. While they are not required to get down to coding and testing, team members must have the confidence to approach them with problems, if any, and seek solutions. A good technical manager must be intuitive and be proactive to take effective steps in case of critical issues so that the project maintains its quality and standards. If you are seeking a position as a technical manager, then you must be prepared to perform a balancing act between your technical and management capabilities to meet the organizational goals.
How to Get a Job as a Technical or Project Manager
Management positions need various skills apart from your technical knowledge and expertise. It’s essential to understand the expectations of the job and evaluate your capabilities before you take on the role head-on. If you’re looking to be a project manager, you’ll definitely need PMP or equivalent certification. [Tip: This course can help you prepare for PMP certification]
Here are some tips to get a job as a technical or project manager in the IT field:
- Develop Communication and People Skills
The job of a technical manager requires effective communication skills and the ability to manage people efficiently. You should assess your people skills and try to perceive and understand people’s behaviour, how you can influence them and get the work done and manage teams in a purposeful manner. It’s important to understand your personality strengths and weaknesses and work towards improving your communication and people skills, if needed. Learn more about effective and tactful communication geared towards getting things done, with this course.
- Take Initiative
If you are working as an executive and waiting for your promotion to the managerial level, then it’s important to show initiative and display your readiness for the role. You can do so by helping your superiors prepare important reports and presentations, volunteer for key assignments that require leadership skills and offer to prepare budget estimates etc. to showcase your capabilities. Don’t expect to be handed a management role without expressing your interest in taking up a managerial role.
- Gather Information
Nothing teaches you like experience; discuss with other technical managers about their responsibilities and observe how they go about doing their jobs of coordinating with teams and higher-ups. You can learn a lot from their experiences and knowledge sharing. Pick up a book on management and leadership to get more insights into managerial jobs, seek answers and plan your steps to becoming a technical manager.
Effective Technical Management
Often people carry the wrong notion that managers have it easy and they are not required to work much. In fact, it’s the other way around; most managers in the technology domain work long hours and face stiff challenges in team and client management. Most times, critical project issues have to be managed carefully without hurting the company reputation or causing customer problems. This not only requires effective management skills but also tremendous amount of patience and perseverance on the manager’s part.
Here are a few tips on becoming an effective technical manager:
- Make efforts to understand your team members, get to know them better and build a good rapport with them
- Motivate your team and find ways to encourage them to do their jobs better
- Be proactive and make informed decisions in a timely manner
- Be a role model to your team and respect, acknowledge and appreciate their suggestions and efforts
- Bring in agility in your team functioning and provide for a transparent working environment, which will further strengthen your relation with team members
- Communicate effectively with subordinates as well as senior management and bridge the gap between various functions
The role of a technical manager needs the right mix of technical expertise and management skills. You might be working as a software programmer, a marketing analyst or financial executive and looking forward to get into a management position. While it’s important to prepare yourself for the roles and responsibilities, it’s equally important to evaluate if you are ready to start a career in management. Whatever your industry domain, if you’re planning to don the hat of a technical manager, understand the job requirements thoroughly and prepare yourself today!