TPM – Project Manager who is technical or technical person who manages?

I squirm when I see a job description for a “Technical Project Manager (TPM)”. My experience is that an organisation advertising for a TPM is often confused about what they are looking for. Do they mean a project manager who is technical or a technical person who provides some coordination? Often you’ll find both types in the same “project management” team.
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I always work with a “Product Owner”; never a “Scrum Product Owner”

I’ve previously had a poke at the Scrum Product Owner role when I called it Scrum’s Uber-Pig. Now I have to admit that, although I always work with a “Product Owner”, I never work with a “Scrum Product Owner”. In fact, given my own responsibilities, I can never work with a Scrum Product Owner.
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Scrum Product Owner: Scrum’s Uber-Pig

I couldn’t help it, I had to draw a parallel between Scrum and Animal Farm. The Final Commandment given by the pigs in the Animal Farm is “All animals are equal, but some animals [the pigs] are more equal than others“. And in Scrum the Uber-Pig is the Product Owner.
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Specialists are a Pain

Specialists are very useful. They are also a pain. It is great to have the experts around when we need them. But specialists are also add painful management overhead. I accept I have to do it but I wish I didn’t.

I’m going to look at three situations where I’ve had to deal with specialists and explain what I did:

  • Drowning in specialists
  • Front / Back end developers
  • Part time external specialists

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