Technical Product Manager$ 100k/Year ($ 50/Hour for 40 hours of productive work per week) Remote Position Long-term
Want to focus your attention on the technical decisions that really matter? How about working across multiple products, technologies and domains? Or leveraging and growing your existing technical architecture skills? Interested in adding real, measurable value to a product every week?
At Crossover, our Technical Product Managers get to make important technical decisions that impact the core of a product, setting boundaries for our engineering teams. Once that's done, you get to move to another product and do the same again - on up to 20 different product a year.
-Ionel C, Technical Program Manager
As a TPM, you will work across dozens of products to understand the problems they solve and make important technical decisions that will determine their long term viability
We believe that our approach towards Technical Product Management is truly unique. We objectively define each product in terms of the market it serves and the technology it leverages.
We uncover market-gaps or user pain-points by identifying CIV (Challenging, Important or Valuable) problems specific to that domain. We employ a standardized process to elicit relevant information from SMEs and succinctly describe each CIV Problem.
We then define Core Functionality (CFs) which the product will implement in order to address each CIV Problem. Through a combination of CIV Problems and CFs, we are in a position to analyze the product-market fit in an objective, standardized fashion. A CIV problem without any CFs is a remaining gap, while a CF which doesn’t address a CIV problem represents unnecessary complexity within the solution.
Once we have articulated the product-market fit, we turn our attention (and most of our time) towards identifying the Important Technical Decisions (ITDs) that will provide the core functionality in the most effective way.
As a TPM, you will:
Define CIV problems and Core Functions and make ITDs as part of a weekly iteration of a product specification.
Set the scope of these specifications by focusing on the core of the product and the real world problem that it solves.
Identify technology trends and understand when to apply them - leveraging leading open source and SaaS solutions to reduce the size and complexity of the product codebase
On a daily basis you will leverage your existing technical expertise and communication skills to:
Know what’s important. Understand where to focus your attention. Look for factors that impact the core of the product.
Communicate clearly and effectively. Not only should you be able to make your point concisely and unambiguously, but you also need to distill the important information from what others say and write.
Be able to simplify. Focus on the core the product, where your input can have the greatest impact.
Each week, you will:
Craft a technical design specification that ensures optimal product-market fit and defines Important Technical Decisions which are focused on the core of the product.
Identify relevant design and integration patterns to standardize product requirements and functionality
Define data structures, object models and algorithms to solve high-value problems
Make decisions that reduce scope in favor of simplicity
Throughout your time with us, you will:
- Continually learn and leverage new technologies, patterns and practices
- Solve complex, ever-changing problems across a large and growing product portfolio
We believe in continuous growth and strive for constant improvement. As part of our TPM family, you will be exposed to a multitude of new technologies, products and industries on a daily basis, and our comprehensive suite of playbooks will equip you with the foundation to develop and enhance your existing expertise.
We also provide a unique CTO Remote Camp for all new TPMs. This full-time, fully-paid training program covers all of the unique aspects within our approach to TPM, including:
SME engagement and how to elicit the important information
How to uncover CIV (Challenging, Important or Valuable) Problems in a particular domain/industry
How to define Core Functions to address CIV problems and ensure optimal product-market fit
How to make the Important Technical Decisions to ensure that:
Core architecture decisions are not left to chance
Core functionality will be delivered effectively
Architecture and development teams are not micro-managed by imposing unnecessary constraints (low-level, unimportant decisions)
Throughout your training, you will get daily feedback to accelerate learning and growth far beyond typical classrooms or training programs.
Our curriculum includes a number of bite-sized training videos where we explain how we design great software. Here’s an example where we show you how to make and validate Important Technical Decisions.
A good fit for...
Experienced product leaders at larger established SaaS companies who have deep technical experience coupled with strong business acumen. They stay abreast of emerging technologies and visualize how to apply them to create compelling differentiated value.
They are industry luminaries, thought leaders and technology evangelists. They have a blog with a sizeable following, author well-known books and articles in prominent media, or routinely speak and lead workshops at major conferences.
A good fit for...
Experienced architects at larger established tech companies who have both deep technical experience and some management experience.
They simplify architectures and make scope decisions.
They are great communicators who see writing technical specs much like writing code. They enjoy developing talent on a team by giving clear and frequent feedback.
A good fit for...
Architects and senior developers who have experience making core technical decisions AND can describe simple solutions to complex problems by using high-level architectural patterns.
They have strong (and well informed) points of view about when to use different technologies, they like to make bold decisions that control scope in order to simplify things, they enjoy designing solutions that minimize the code to be written.
A good fit for...
Technically strong, hands-on senior developers who are interested in a career progression in Technical Product Management.
They care a lot about creating simple, clean software. They have opinions about what makes a great API, database schema, algorithm.
If you’d like to create similar playbooks for your own use, please feel free to use our template.
What does a good technical product manager look like?
TPMs should be super-technical and great at connecting the CORE of the software's design decisions to the way that those decisions allow the product do the "important thing" in the best way possible. They focus on data structures & algorithms, not slick UI/UX. They write their logic/rationale down so that it can be vetted by healthy debate - or at least understood! They engage directly on the important topics. They spec important product simplifications ("non-features") as often as they spec the “must-have features”.
How would you describe a day of work as a TPM at Crossover?
If I had to describe it succinctly, I would say that the main thing a TPM does each day is to focus on a "thing" that needs a solution. It may be a data structure or an algorithm for a brand new product. It may be how to change an existing codebase to adopt some new technology component that will make the product much better, or retire a bunch of low-value code, or a variety of other problems we are trying to solve. TPMs write down their thinking/logic in the most succinct and clear way possible. They work with other people (global/remote) to ask questions in order to get peer-feedback, and feedback from their manager.
How many products does each role manage? What’s the typical size of each product team?
We don't limit the number of products that TPMs work on in that way. They generally work on one product at a time, and once finished solving that problem/design, they move onto another product. They may come back to a product too. We want TPMs to have continuous learning. By doing this, our TPMs learn many new technologies, design patterns and architectures, industries, and business models. We have designed our organization and processes so that this works. We like people on the team to contribute work and ideas in a fluid manner, in the same way, that great, high-caliber engineering teams all work on many different parts of the same codebase. As long as they are all of sufficient skill, collaborative, and have the right review/approval process, so the code isn't a complete mess. It may be slower in the short-term (because of ramp up) but its better in the long-term. Our engineering teams generally follow the "2 Pizza Rule" regarding size.
How are the teams formed within the actual projects and as TPM would I have any influence over the selection of the project I'd be working on?
Our view is that TPMs (and the TPM Org) should not focus on managing or influencing the engineering delivery team. We leave that to engineering management. Our TPMs focus on making the important technical decisions that in aggregate define “how the software should work to deliver customer value” and not on “how the engineering team should work to deliver the software.” An analogy would be the way an Architect's job is to clearly define the important decisions regarding the construction of a building but is not part of the building team that the construction company uses to build the building.
How do you know what insights are important?
The important decisions are always there, and they always get made one way or another. The question is whether they are made deliberately and with the gravity they require, or whether you find out how they were made after it is too late. Our process works to identify these decisions early - we invest the necessary time and skill, drive alignment and feedback from all parties, and learn and improve over time. To do this, TPMs must be very technical and able to explain the reasoning for their engineering decisions. TPMs need to see the "big picture" and focus on the important capabilities, not the many minor features. TPMs must be fast learners and great writers and know the difference between controlling what is truly "important" versus micro-managing engineering (which we do not want to do). This is the core of our 30-day CTO Remote Camp process - we, focus on our quality bar, and the goal of our processes.
How do you measure success?
This is a long answer, but the basic idea is that we define actual deliverables for TPMs. These weekly deliverables are quite structured, and we check the quality of the content within those specs. For example, we evaluate how "Important" the content is, how correct the "Technical" content is, and how clear and justified the rationale for the "Decision" is. We call those ITDs, and TPMs get feedback on the quality of their work. So, by measuring the Quality and the Quantity of work, we measure success. In the longer term, we also measure how well those decisions played out in the real world
How does the TPM organization fit within the rest of the organization?
Our approach to Product Management is heavily technical, and that is because of our belief that the most important thing is mapping the customer problems to a 10x better engineering solution to that problem. We try to simplify and make the core of the product 10x better instead of chasing every little feature that competitors do or developing piles of minor features from the backlog. That said, we also send the core messages to marketing and sales so that they can do their job. Those core messages start with the TPM team.