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​Technical Lead vs Project Manager – who should you hire?

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 3 years ago
  • Author: Jon Armstrong

Job titles in embedded systems and electronics can be confusingly interchangeable, but there are clear differences between a technical lead and a project manager.

A technical lead guides the technical development of a product, overseeing a team of technical employees. They may have other job titles and requirements besides this.

A project manager does nothing but manage projects all day. They’re less of a techie and more of a manager and organiser.

But how do you know which to hire when?

When you need a technical lead

If your project calls for the creation of software, components or code, and you have more than a few engineers working on it, you probably need a technical lead – especially if some team members are inexperienced or if multiple departments are involved. If you’ve just taken on a lot of new employees who are working on their first project, a more experienced technical lead will also be useful to guide them.

Where to find technical leads

A technical lead role is usually a temporary responsibility given to an existing staff member. Choose the technical lead for your project based on your staff’s experience and leadership ability. If nobody in your company has the right specialised knowledge, you can hire a temporary or permanent technical lead through a specialist recruitment agency.

When you need a project manager

Unlike a technical lead role, a project manager role is usually a full-time job that the person has specifically trained and qualified for. If you’re developing a new product or service, whether internally or for a client, you need a project manager who can oversee the whole project and has the authority to make decisions on what needs to be done.

Where to find project managers

A project manager will often be hired as a permanent staff member who takes charge of all new projects. Depending on the size of your company and how many clients and projects you have to juggle at once, you may hire more than one. Project managers are experienced people who have worked their way up the ranks and have a wide range of industry knowledge. You may find them by advertising or leveraging your professional contacts, or you can go through a recruitment agency that has access to the top talent in the industry.