What Does a Technical Lead Do? (With Specific Requirements)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 20 September 2022 | Published 15 November 2021

Updated 20 September 2022

Published 15 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A technical lead oversees technological projects in the IT, engineering and software development industries. These professionals provide industry expertise and management skills to deliver projects on schedule and within budget. If you're considering a technical lead role, it's important to know the responsibilities and requirements. In this article, we discuss the duties of technical leads, their responsibilities, who they work with and the specific qualifications to get the role.

What does a technical lead do?

You may have heard of the term but wonder what does a technical lead do. They oversee the activities of technical teams. They provide direction, assess performance and solve problems relating to technical projects. Here are some duties of technical leads:

Oversee project implementation

One of the primary duties of a technical lead is to oversee the entire project. Working with management, teams and clients, you identify and determine project requirements, such as performance parameters, aesthetics, user experience, cost and delivery timelines. You also supervise teams and provide expert advice and leadership to achieve project objectives.

Evaluate project risks

Another important duty of technical leads is to solve problems facing the project and their teams. You assess different aspects of a project to identify internal and external risk factors. You then create contingency plans and find alternative sources of support to maintain the progress of work and deliver the project on schedule.

Perform human resources and development duties

Technical leaders take part in the recruitment process to help the human resources department identify and evaluate a candidate's technical skills and desirable personality traits. You also support the training of new and existing employees and provide regular mentorship. You assign tasks to team members based on their strengths and competencies to improve productivity and enhance job satisfaction.

Improve products

Technical leads perform audits to identify lapses in products and systems and recommend upgrades and updates. You use users' feedback, error reports, new security challenges and changing business realities to improve existing products. You also supervise the addition of new features to products for optimal performance and improved user experience.

Perform liaison functions

The technical lead serves as the link between the technical team, management, clients and other stakeholders. You work with technical and non-technical professionals, such as arts directors, marketers, salespeople and product managers to ensure that projects satisfy every criterion required for success. You also compile reports for management or client review and recommendations. These suggestions help to improve the overall quality of the project or product.

Research new technologies

Another function of the technical lead is to research new technologies and processes that can improve productivity and efficiency. You invest in continuous professional development so you can upgrade your teams' skills and efficiency. By researching the latest industry developments, you stay up to date and apply those new technologies and processes to increase the quality of your projects and reduce risks.

Related: Important Roles and Responsibilities of a Team Leader

What are the responsibilities of a technical lead?

The primary responsibility of a technical lead is to ensure that projects have exceptional technical integrity. You do this through a variety of ways, including improving the skills of teams, tracking key performance indicators and ensuring products meet specific client and user requirements. Here are some responsibilities you may have:

Enforce quality

One of the primary responsibilities of a technical lead is to ensure the highest level of technical quality in projects. To do this, you require extensive experience to understand the teams' work, identify mismatches and track the percentage of required improvements. Using specific metrics to monitor team performance can help you to ensure a high level of work integrity, which results in fewer issues and delays.

Lead design and architectural efforts

The technical lead also oversees the design and architectural efforts. You ensure there's a comprehensive requirements analysis that provides detailed instructions on the layout and functions of each element of a product. You use your industry expertise to create scalable designs based on budgetary, time and business realities. That way, the team understands their work and the client's expectations, reducing issues that can cause delays, budget overruns and glitches in the finished product.

Oversee review process

Whether in software development or engineering projects, technical leads oversee the review process. Before project implementation, you create a timeline for project review for quick identification of issues. Proper review allows you to provide constructive feedback that can help the team improve their efficiency and prevent future problems.

Foster collaboration and engagement

Besides handling technical matters, this role also involves providing leadership and motivating people to work together. Effective tech leads promote engagement and collaboration within their teams. You create an atmosphere of cooperation and feedback, allow individuals to leverage their strengths and delegate effectively to improve team members' soft skills.

Oversee deployment

After proper implementation, it's also the responsibility of the technical lead to ensure a hitch-free deployment. You oversee the team to carry out a series of tests to make sure the product performs according to specification. After deployment, you also provide ongoing support for optimal user experience and business success.

Related: Project Manager Skills and Duties (With Examples)

Who do technical leads work with?

The person a technical lead works with depends on their industry. In the software development industry, you can work with software developers, business managers, product managers, software engineers, quality control engineers, project managers and planners. Technical leads in engineering projects can work with supervisors, architects, structural engineers, product designers, project managers and people in sales and marketing.

In television, people like creative directors, photographers, camera operators, costumers and other professionals can collaborate with the technical lead. While you mostly lead teams working on technical projects, you also work with other departments to achieve business goals.

Related: How to Become a Technical Manager (Plus Common Skills)

How does a technical lead differ from a team lead?

Team leads and technical leads may have overlapping functions, but their roles are different. The primary duty of a technical lead is to make technical decisions, although they may also provide leadership and help improve their teams' technical skills. Team leads typically manage people, ensuring that they adhere to organisational rules and regulations in their duties. While the tech lead may focus on only engineers or software developers, the team lead attends meetings with managers and stakeholders on both the business and technical requirements of the project.

The basic requirements for a technical lead are in-depth experience and expertise in the technological aspects of the job. Team leads require more leadership and managerial skills and less technical know-how. In some cases, a team lead with strong technical skills may turn out not to be a good manager. This is because their knowledge can make them see more of their teams' flaws than positive qualities.

Related: What Is a Micromanager? (With Advantages and Disadvantages)

Specific requirements to become a technical lead

Here are specific requirements to qualify for a technical lead role:

Educational requirements

Employers typically require technical lead candidates to have a minimum education of a bachelor's degree in their discipline. Tech leads in the software development sector can get a degree in computer science, computer engineering and related fields. Engineering tech leads require a bachelor's degree in the applicable discipline.

Training requirements

Technical leads require extensive training in their industry to get employment. In the software development field, employers want you to have an in-depth working knowledge of the software development life cycle, website systems, operating systems, security protocols, programming languages, design and architecture and requirements analysis.

Engineering technical leads may require training in testing, product design and fabrication, troubleshooting, tooling, computer-aided design applications and other industry-specific expertise. The training requirements for technical leaders depends on your industry and specific job duties and responsibilities.

Licencing and professional certifications

Technical leads may require specific professional certifications, depending on their field. Candidates in software development may require industry-standard certifications, including credentials in diverse programming languages, project management, networking and cloud computing. Engineering technical leads may require a professional licence, which has specific work experience and educational qualification criteria.

Experience requirements

Tech leads in different fields typically have extensive work experience. This is necessary since you provide technical direction and support for your team. Employers may request that you have up to three to five years of relevant experience. Senior roles that involve management duties may require even more years of work experience in a leadership position.

Skills requirements

While the role is technical, tech leads require a combination of soft and hard skills to perform their duties effectively. Communication skills are essential for working with technical teams and collaborating with management, business professionals and clients. You also require advanced interpersonal skills, organisation and time management skills. You perform project management functions, so it's essential for you to be adept in this area.

Related: What Does a Technical Project Manager Do? (With Salary)

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