“Software is a great combination between artistry and engineering” – Bill Gates
If you are a software product engineer, rest assured, you already possess certain innate qualities which should help you make a mark in this field. Technical skills are a given but being innovative, having great problem-solving capacity, an attention to detail, are probably your real strengths. While these are great qualities to possess, I believe that there is something more, certain specific qualities that make one a software product engineer par excellence. The truly excellent product engineers possess a range of personality traits, among them, these:
1 Broad vision:
A software product engineer should be able to see the full picture. It doesn’t work if you persist in pushing your own set of ideas. Rather, there needs to be better understanding of the business deliverables and the customers’ needs. After all, the product must solve some real problems for its users. Thus, these engineers understand that they need to keep their eyes open for every possible problem area and the solutions offered by the other team members.
2 Fast and productive:
The true professional needs to, actually wants to, act fast on customer requirements. A key skill is gauging quickly what the competitive market demands and how. Thus, being speedily productive is a dually necessary quality; for your employer as well as for the client. The final product should meet the client expectations of costs and functionality. A software product engineer must eventually provide business value, that’s non-negotiable.
You probably already know this but, a software product engineer needs to work on several levels. Commitment towards deadlines, ensuring cohesive team performance, being logical and patient, having great communication skills, are all prerequisites to sustain oneself in the long run. In short, it is about inculcating a whole slew of critical soft skills.
Producing a high-quality software product requires immense patience. To stay focused till the very end, an engineer needs to stick to the plan, even while juggling the available resources and timelines. Most activities, for instance, creating proper documentation and drawing up project plans, can take time. And every single activity needs efficient time management as well as diligent execution over the duration of the development process.
This quality involves one being able to delve deeper into a product and exploring every possible way in which it may have to function. A creative product engineer will figure out the end-users needs and the specific use-cases in which the product will be utilised. Then they will find creative ways of using all the data at hand so that a winning product can be created.
While having expertise is necessary, to better yourself at the job like the true professional you must have the zest for the finer details of the craft. Being aware of various business aspects of the product such as cost implications, go to market pressures, standards, scalability constraints, security principles, etc. is imperative so that the product stays competitive and stays ahead.
As new technologies and processes become available, the great software product engineer should be able to accommodate those in the product being worked upon. If incorporating a new technology will increase the efficiency and acceptability of the product in the market then provision must be made to include that. The true software product professional thus needs to be aware of the latest technology trends and be receptive to the same –even if it means a shift in well-laid plans.
It’s fair to assume that there will always be a market for those with the experience and the skills to build software products. However, my view is that the ones that make it big will be those who possess a deep understanding of the product, the customer, and the resources, as well as the passion to reach the final solution. The product will only be as good as those that build it. By that token a company looking to build a great software product will seek great product development engineers –will that be you?