Are you interested in a career in the tech industry but unsure that you want to code? Many second-career workers are attracted to tech but think that being a software developer is the only way to enter. This is not true because there are many non-developer roles on a successful development team, including technical project managers.
Technical project managers understand how the business works and what software tools to use. They use this knowledge to convert business needs to developer roadmaps that yield software and hardware solutions. It is a fast-moving career, but technical project management may be a good fit if you do not want to become a software developer.
If You Like to Break Work into Smaller Pieces
Business needs do not come as neat lists of properly ordered actionable tasks. As a technical project manager, you will likely be given business needs like creating a new registration form for sales users. This vague business need raises the questions: is there an existing feature, where will this feature live in the application, what will it look like, and what type of information does it need to collect?
The registration form is the expected output. You will break this output into actionable items for your team to complete. Completing this work will require you to talk to diverse team members, including UI/UX developers, product managers, business analysts, and software engineers. Understanding who will be in charge of and who can handle each task is critical for writing tickets.
When you have broken the business needs into actionable tasks, you must understand the design and development process to sequence the tasks correctly. If these tasks do not have the proper order, you will have idle workers blocked by in-progress or yet-to-be-completed items. This is a lot to understand and manage, but being able to segment, order, and assign tasks from a business requirement is crucial to being a successful technical project manager.
If You Like to Work Across Teams
You may only have one team you work with at a small company, but if you work for a larger company, you may work with multiple teams. To successfully manage, you need to quickly learn processes and how to interact with and motivate different team members.
Software development changes quickly. This could be the software tools used to design your products or entire approaches to problems. You may manage a team for half a year and work on another team for half a year before returning to your first team. In that period, the first team may have changed their UI framework or the query language or database layer that runs their features. To be successful, you will always need to learn and adapt to different teams and how they approach problems.
Along with learning the tools and software approaches, you need to learn how to work with different developers and designers. Team members’ skills vary greatly. Some team members may need every detail spelled out in tickets, while others can turn more ambiguous tasks into the perfect output. Understanding the team members across each of your teams will be crucial in getting the correct results.
If You Like Learning About New Technology
While you will not be writing lines of code, technical project managers must know about the tools their software developers are using. Different software frameworks allow for abilities and development times. Some frameworks, like Ruby on Rails, offer quick ideas for workable feature runways but do not hold up well against high user interaction volumes. Knowing the pros and cons of software tools is crucial to delivering resilient, reliable features and software on or under budget.
Knowing your technology tools today does not guarantee success tomorrow. New paradigms for data layers, new approaches to managing UIs, and different DevOps tools pop up constantly. While a CTO or Staff Software Engineer may vet and approve tech stack changes, your job is to understand the tech stack and correctly identify how your software solutions will be built. You will need to constantly learn new tech to ensure successful releases.
Start Your Technical Project Management Journey Today!
Anyone could become a software engineer, but this does not mean everyone should. Some people enjoy the soft skills of interfacing with multiple diverse teams and shareholders more than working by themselves on coding problems. Being a technical project manager comes with many attractive tasks and challenges. If this role excites you, check out Thinkful’s five-month online Technical Project Management Bootcamp! This self-paced bootcamp will give you all the skills you need to transition into a face-paced, exciting tech career.