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Progression of Product Manager vs Technical Project Manager (TPM)

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Staff Software Engineer at Taro Community2 months ago

One of the questions I have is product manager same as the project manager (TPM)? It means a bit hazy between companies and has always puzzled me when looking at a job opening.

Another question was around what are the natural progressions for each of these titles in the career?



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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    Some companies sort of blur them together (I think Amazon does this?), but from my experience, product managers and technical project/program managers (TPMs) are very different:

    • Product manager (PM) - Owns the product vision and direction. This includes (but is not limited to) figuring out what to build, what features to prioritize, coordinating UXR/design, and coming up with a plan to analyze data and prove user value.
    • Technical project manager (TPM) - Is a master of "glue" type of work. Their goal is to make sure that the logistics of a project are going 100% smoothly. This means booking meetings to make sure people stay aligned, creating/maintaining overall project documents, talking to leads to proactively search for problems, and clearing blockers (especially non-technical ones).

    PMs (especially on the more junior side) will often do a lot of TPM-type stuff. Since PMs are more of a super-set of PMs, PMs tend to be paid more than TPMs with compensation closer to that of SWE (and even higher sometimes).

    To learn more about TPM, check this out: Technical Program Manager (TPM) resources

    To dive deeper into PM: [Taro Top 10] Product Management For Engineers

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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a month ago

    When it comes to the team strategy, one way to think about the difference is:

    • Product Managers (PMs) define the strategy.
    • Technical Program Managers (TPMs) execute the strategy.

    Generally, the more ambiguity you deal with, the higher your pay. The PM role has more ambiguity and is also much closer to company leadership. So empirically, PMs will have more upward mobility and compensation.