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I'm a software engineer in my company and I've been in a loop with my boss and a 'Product manager' from an other company.

The subject is about setting up some common project and I need some details about how this should be done.

I asked some technical questions on my first email and I wanted to know if I should I mention something in those lines :

BTW, let me know if I should be in contact with someone more technical in your team or if I can contact you directly for technical questions

The problem is that I don't want the person to feel offended as the PM could interpret that like "you don't have technical skills". This is my first time emailing the PM.

From the small thread of emails, the PM sounds like representing the 'team' of devs, so I'm thinking that maybe I should talk with one of the devs directly instead of the PM.

How can I ask politely to be redirected to someone more technical on the team?

  • Why do you feel like you need to mention that to the PM? Are you assuming the PM doesn't have enough knowledge to answer your questions? – Raskkii Dec 10 '18 at 14:28
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    Has the PM said anything so far to make you think they aren't tech-savvy enough to understand your questions? If so, how have their responses been? – user8671 Dec 10 '18 at 14:28
  • From the small thread of emails, the PM sounds like representing the 'team' of devs, so I'm thinking that maybe I should talk with one of the devs directly instead of the PM. – toto Dec 10 '18 at 14:48
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    Please don’t write answers in comments. It bypasses our quality measures by not having voting (both up and down) available on comments, as well as having other problems detailed on meta. Comments are for clarifying and improving the question; please don’t use them for other purposes. (cc @Meg) – Em C Dec 10 '18 at 16:56
  • Did you get an answer to your technical questions? – paparazzo Dec 10 '18 at 18:12
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This is a very, very, very common scenario. Don't over think it.

If this is you first interaction with this PM:

Will you also be the technical contact for the project? Here's a few questions...

This will give them the opportunity to accept the role immediately or refer you to someone else.

If you wait until there's a few back and fourths where you're not getting good answers, then yes, it becomes a bit touchy and you shouldn't ask this. Hopefully they will then refer you to a technical contact on their own.

If not, let your management take care of it. It's more important that you have a good relationship with the PM and their team. It's better for your manager to be the bad guy than you.

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I've been in this situation a few times. It's usually no big deal. You can try this:

I'd like to get moving on this project, so is there a technical resource over there who I can coordinate with directly?

or

Is there a developer on your team I should be working with directly to move this project forward?

or

Is there a dedicated developer over there to whom I should direct my questions?

Or some variation of the above. Avoid saying "a more technical person" since, as you say, that implies the PM is not technical. Instead focus on the fact that the PM's traditional job description is coordinator, not hands-on. If the PM is the technical resource, then they should tell you, and provide good answers to your questions.

In some cases the PM can be very jealous of their role as the "gatekeeper", filtering direct access to the developers. After all, if the PM didn't ferry questions and specifications back and forth to the developers, some of them would be out of a job. This can be an annoying situation, as it frequently leads to delays and miscommunications -- but if that's how the other team works, you just have to roll with it.

I've been in situations where I have to communicate my questions to my PM, who communicates them to their PM, who talks to their developers, and then back up the chain. If you have a good PM on your own team, this can actually be easier, because you have a single point of contact, and it's your PM's responsibility to make sure the questions get to the right people.

If you have a poor PM, well ...

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