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Is The Technical Program Manager Role Dead?

In this ever-evolving world of technology, roles and responsibilities are subject to constant change. The Technical Program Manager (TPM) position has been a crucial part of product / software development for many years. However, more recently, I have been getting many questions about the role's relevance and future due to various factors, primary of which is the tech layoffs.

What is a Technical Program Manager (TPM)?

A Technical Program Manager is a multifaceted role responsible for overseeing the planning, execution, and delivery of complex technical projects within an organization. They act as a bridge between engineering teams, product managers, stakeholders, and senior leadership, ensuring the alignment of goals, schedules, and resources.

The role involves a mix of technical expertise, program management skills, and leadership abilities. TPMs must possess a deep understanding of the technology being developed and the challenges associated with it. Additionally, they must be adept at coordinating multiple teams, managing risks, and mitigating issues throughout the project lifecycle.

Technical Program Manager Role

Value of the TPM Role

TPMs bring in a lot of value to their engineering and product teams. TPMs help achieve business outcomes by leverage their deep domain expertise and creating a holistic program strategy. Here are a just a few key benefits of having a TPM.

  1. Efficient Program Execution: TPMs are instrumental in driving efficiency by streamlining processes, removing bottlenecks, and optimizing resource allocation. Their ability to coordinate between teams and facilitate collaboration contributes to successful project outcomes.

  2. Risk Management: Identifying and managing risks is a crucial aspect of any project. TPMs are skilled at assessing potential risks and proactively implementing strategies to minimize their impact on project timelines and quality.

  3. Cross-Functional Leadership: TPMs play a pivotal role in connecting various teams and departments within an organization. Their ability to lead cross-functional initiatives ensures that everyone is aligned with the project's objectives, leading to a more cohesive and synergistic work environment.

  4. Effective Communication: TPMs act as communication hubs, ensuring that information flows smoothly between stakeholders, teams, and leadership. Their clear and concise communication helps to maintain transparency and keeps everyone informed about project progress and challenges.

You can read more how TPMs bring value to their teams by thoroughly understanding the TPM role and responsibilities, building the core skills, achieving excellence, and scaling themselves.

TPM Layoffs in Tech

The tech industry is no stranger to the ebb and flow of economic trends, and this has led to multiple instances of layoffs in various organizations. TPMs have been affected disproportionately by these layoffs which has raised concerns about the validity of the role These layoffs are happening for many reasons such as:

  1. Over-hiring: Companies, in their pursuit of growth and expansion, may have over-hired employees during boom periods. When the market contracts, they find themselves with excess manpower, leading to the need for layoffs to optimize costs.

  2. Market Shifts: Technological advancements and market shifts can render certain projects or products obsolete. To stay competitive, companies may need to restructure their workforce, which have resulted in layoffs.

  3. Budget Constraints: Financial challenges or declining revenues have prompted some companies to make difficult decisions, including staff reductions, to remain sustainable.

  4. Efficiency Gains: Companies often have to start optimizing and operating more efficiently when constraints like budget are put into place. This results in taking a deeper look at functions and roles and how they can or cannot benefit the organization

TPMs Are Still Valuable

Despite the challenges and layoffs, the TPM role continues to hold immense value for organizations. For companies that paced hiring reasonably are positioned strongly to move forward and even hiring TPMs. TPMs are still seen as valuable assets by many startups, mid-size companies and tech-adjacent organizations for the following superpowers:

  1. Navigating Complexity: In a tech landscape marked by increasingly complex projects and technologies, TPMs offer the expertise needed to manage multifaceted initiatives.

  2. Streamlined Operations: TPMs bring a structured approach to program management, ensuring that resources are optimized, timelines are met, and the overall project execution is efficient.

  3. Strategic Leadership: TPMs are no longer just focused on tactical execution; they are now expected to be strategic leaders. They need to align projects with the company's broader goals and drive initiatives that contribute to the organization's success.

  4. Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication and collaboration across teams and stakeholders are crucial for project success. TPMs excel in fostering collaboration and maintaining open channels of communication.

  5. Risk Mitigation: The ability to anticipate and mitigate risks is a prized quality in TPMs. Their expertise in identifying potential roadblocks and implementing risk reduction strategies is invaluable to organizations.

Adapting to the Changing Landscape

As the tech industry continues to evolve, aspiring and existing TPMs must adapt to the changing landscape and expectations to remain relevant and thrive in their roles. Here are some ways they can do so:

  1. Embrace Strategic Thinking: TPMs should expand their focus beyond tactical execution and develop a deep understanding of their organization's overall strategy. This will enable them to align projects with strategic goals and contribute to the company's long-term success. Unsure about where to start? Download the free TPM Starter Toolkit to develop your technical and leadership skills.

  2. Develop Soft Skills: While technical expertise is essential, soft skills like effective communication, emotional intelligence, and leadership are equally vital for TPMs. Strengthening these skills will enhance their ability to lead and collaborate effectively.

  3. Stay Abreast of Technology Trends: The tech industry is ever-changing, and TPMs must stay updated on the latest technological advancements and industry trends. This knowledge will enable them to make informed decisions and navigate emerging challenges. The AI sector is seeing a hiring boom and many startups have open TPM roles.

  4. Foster Cross-Functional Relationships: Building strong relationships across departments and teams is crucial for TPMs to succeed. It helps them understand the needs and perspectives of different stakeholders, facilitating smoother project execution. TPM role is not meant to be individualistic.

The Technical Program Manager role is far from dead; it has evolved to become a vital asset in the tech industry and remains so. Layoffs and reorganizations are common in the tech world, but TPMs have proven their worth by bringing immense value to organizations through efficient program execution, strategic leadership, risk management, and effective communication.

There are many open roles in Startups and latest tech domains like Generative AI that prove that TPMs are valuable and still in demand. Here's a few open at the time of publishing this post.

The TPM role is alive and thriving, and those who evolve with the times will continue to make a significant impact in the tech industry.

Listen to the podcast episode for a deeper dive on this topic.


Interviewing for a TPM role soon? Check out the Cracking the TPM Interview Course.


How do I become a successful technical program manager?

Building the Core TPM Skills and focusing on high-value meaningful work will pave the way for success. Setting yearly goals will help clarify the plan and steps to get there.

What does a good technical program manager do?

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