What Is the Role of a Technical Manager?

by Tony Guerra
Technical managers keep their teams focused on developing realistic technological solutions.

Technical managers keep their teams focused on developing realistic technological solutions.

To operate effectively, a company needs a number of different managers with various skill sets. Human resources managers, for instance, administer a wide range of personnel programs. An organization's line managers are responsible for planning, decision making, setting targets and generating revenue. Technical managers are another class of manager, and they're frequently seen in software development organizations. However, any technologically complex process in an organization, such as manufacturing or even accounting, can make good use of a technical manager.

Purpose of Technical Managers

Typically, technical managers lead technological development activities. Technical managers tend to possess a high degree of expertise in a given technical area, such as software development or electronics manufacturing. Technical managers themselves aren't expected to sit down and write software code, for instance, but they must be able to lead a team developing that code. Broadly, technical managers fill both managerial and technical expert roles.

Team Effort Management Role

When companies use technical managers, they typically have them lead teams of skilled technical employees. In software development, for example, technical managers provide direction to their teams, beginning with identifying technical problems and then developing software solutions for them. Because software, electronics or other technologically involved problems can be so complex, most technical managers spend a lot of time on team management. A good technical manager can dissect an assigned technological challenge and then keep her team focused on developing realistic and effective solutions.

Project Management Role

Technical managers may lead teams that are part of a project, with the entire effort led by a project manager. In truth, project managers usually doesn't possess great expertise in every single technical area found within a project. In a project, technical managers lead their own teams but may also work closely with the project's manager. Additionally, when working within a project, a technical manager leads her team's solution development work but also ensures that her team's efforts match up with overall project goals.

Technical Manager Salaries

Traditionally, technical managers come from the software development environment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that software developers themselves earned $90,530 annually in 2010. Computer software engineers are another occupational group that may work in technical management, with 2010 salaries of $85,540. Many other companies, though, employ a wide variety of designated technical managers. The Career Bliss website says the average technical manager salary is $87,000, with a high of $200,000 at Cisco Systems.

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