Technical Project Manager vs. Project Manager (+ Examples)


This is about technical project manager vs. project manger in IT.

Only 58% of organizations understand the value of project management.

Even fewer know the difference between a technical project manager and a project manager.

Let’s dive right in!

What Is the Difference Between a Technical Project Manager and a Project Manager in IT?

Depending on your task’s difficulty, the project manager you hire can mean the difference between success and failure.

With only 58% of organizations understanding the value of project management, it can be challenging to figure out the right person or position to hire. 

It’s crucial to hire an adequately skilled manager in the areas of management and organization, but some tasks require specific technical knowledge of the subject. 

If you’re wondering what is a project manager vs a technical project manager, then you’ve come to the right place.

Below, you’ll find the differences between these two jobs, when to hire each, and other useful information about hiring IT project managers for your company. 

What Is a Project Manager?

Whenever a new project starts at a company, someone needs to be in charge. There is a lot to keep up with between the moving parts, deadlines, tasks, and workers. To keep track of them individually would be inconvenient and chaotic. 

The project manager is one individual responsible for communication with company officials and the client. They are a person whose job it is to oversee the project, plan its schedule, and make sure it’s completed promptly.

Employers also expect project managers to solve any problem that might arise during the scope of the project.  

While a project manager is fully aware of all the project’s processes, they are rarely involved in their actual execution. 

Instead, project managers coordinate workers assigned specific tasks by communicating with them about deadlines and ensuring they have everything they need to complete the assignment. 

What Important Skills Do Project Managers Need? 

One of the most critical skills for a project manager is communication. They need to convey work progress and complications to both their company and whatever clients are involved. They also need to make sure this communication is delivered quickly and effectively.

Deadlines are probably the most significant responsibility of any project manager. The ability to meet those deadlines early or on time will leave both the company and the client very satisfied. 

Organization skills will help with meeting those deadlines. Once a project manager organizes their work, they can produce a precise calendar and (withholding any complications) deliver the project punctually. 

Finally, a project manager needs to be able to manage their team effectively. As a project manager, sometimes you’ll need to tell someone they are falling behind, doing a good job, or need to work more cooperatively. 

A project manager will collaborate with his team, and his/her success will be entirely reliant on them.  

Project Managers in IT

Since IT is such a complex and knowledge-based field, Project managers in this area often have even more work than average. Usually, their responsibilities go above and beyond merely managing the programming team. 

They will need an understanding of the project and the product they are working with to answer complex questions and constructively contribute to problem-solving. 

A project manager can use their general knowledge of management and organization to make their project successful in other fields.

In IT, project managers will also need a decent understanding of the systems they and their team are using. 

This knowledge requirement can range from elementary (a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in the field of the project) to in-depth and inclusive (a full study and hands-on work experience in the field of the project) depending on its complexity and the overall size of the project. 

Should project managers be technical? If your project requires a lot of specific knowledge and expertise in a particular field, you should hire a technical project manager. 

But what is the difference between a project manager and a technical project manager? Is there a big difference?

Let’s take a look at what a technical project manager is:

What Is a Technical Project Manager? 

For the most part, technical project manager skills and regular project manager skills are the same. They still need to be proficient in communication, organization, punctuality, and management skills. 

The thing that makes technical project managers unique is that they will also have extensive expertise in a specific field. A technical project manager’s skills will be what gets them hired for their position. 

This expertise is why projects that require a significant amount of knowledge and expertise in one area of IT usually also require a technical project manager. 

With a skilled project manager, the company and client receive information and time schedules regarding the project updated continuously.

With a technical project manager, the client and the company can also guarantee that this updated information is accurate, relevant, and up to date concerning its unique software or the project’s technology. 

What Important Skills Do Technical Project Managers Need? 

A technical project manager’s skills and traditional project managers’ skills are almost the same. The only difference is the technical project manager will have expertise in a specific field.

But how do you balance managerial skills with technical ones? If you have a weakness in either area, it can mean death for your project. 

An excellent technical worker with bad management skills could lead the project to miss deadlines or getting off focus.

A good manager with limited technical knowledge can become completely lost in a project. So how do you find the right balance? 

The answer is simple: degrees and qualifications. Check your applicants’ CVs and make sure they are certified in both management and the necessary field of IT. 

There are several management degrees on the market that can vouch for employees’ abilities like:

  • Associate in Project Management
  • BVOP Certified Project Manager
  • Certified Associate in Project Management
  • Certified Project Director
  • Certified Project Management Practitioner
  • Certified Project Manager
  • Certified ScrumMaster
  • CompTIA Project+
  • Master Project Manager
  • PRINCE2 Foundation/PRINCE2 Practitioner
  • Professional in Project Management
  • Project Management in IT Security
  • Project Management Professional

Regarding their technical knowledge, a master’s degree or at least three to five years working in that field should be enough to tell you they’re an expert. 

Technical Project Managers in IT

Typically, there are two categories for project management in IT: software and infrastructure. 

Software Project

These projects usually require a project manager with experience in software development. Degrees in computer science, IT, or management of information systems are typical for technical project managers that work on software projects. 

There is a lot of uncertainty when working on software development. Project managers in charge of these projects usually choose management methods with shorter increments to compensate for the uncertainty. 

Infrastructure Project

For these projects, you’ll need a technical project manager with experience in hardware. They should be no stranger to things like computers, servers, storage, and networking. 

Their responsibilities will include services for these machines such as backing them up, upgrading, replacing, updating them, and overall growth of these systems within the company. 

Beyond a degree in management (masters or higher), technical project managers working in infrastructure should also have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or engineering. 

Budget management is also vital for this area. Infrastructure projects can have budgets of millions of dollars, and so the project manager will need to be able to utilize those funds effectively. 

What Is the Difference between Technical Project Managers and Project Managers?

To put it simply, to be a Project Manager, all you need is management skills. If you have an employee with excellent communication, organization, and punctuality, the perfect candidate for your project manager position. 

All of these skills plus expertise in the specific field will be present on a technical project manager’s resume vs a project manager who will have a more broad knowledge of the project. 

Suppose you have an applicant who has an impressive management resume while also demonstrating knowledge and expertise in an area of interest for your company. In that case, you should hire them as a technical project manager. 

How Do You Know When You Need a Technical Project Manager VS a Project Manager?

The complexity, scope, and focus of the project are what determines the correct position. If the project is very complex, or, dare I say, technical, your best bet is to go with a technical project manager. 

As long as they have a sufficient management CV, they will be able to get you the most accurate results for your project’s specific needs. If a problem arises with one of the developers, a technical project manager can directly deal with the situation. 

They won’t need to contact external personnel or distract another member of the project with technical questions. They’ll also manage the project staff specifically for that particular field and create a more accurate calendar using their past experiences and projects. 

If your project doesn’t require exact technical knowledge, you can save some money and time by hiring a regular project manager. They will handle all managerial tasks effectively and are often more experienced in management than technical project managers. 

Where Can You Find Talented Technical Project Managers and Project Managers for IT?

The best place to search is online. Using job sites like Indeed or Linkedin, you can contrast CVs with the recommended requirements/skills above. These sites make it easy to search by skill set and will narrow down your application process quickly. 

If you’re looking for reputable IT freelancers for project management or technical project management, you can also try one of the remote freelancing platforms available on the internet. 

Sites like Triplebyte and Lemon both offer access to freelance IT workers. All of their freelancers go through an extensive application process so you can ensure quality work and solid results.

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