There is an amazing array of career opportunities in the IT sector. If you are planning to start a career in the tech industry, you’d probably hear about product management and software engineering. These two roles entail unique job requirements, tasks, and responsibilities.
Choosing which career path to pursue can be a tough call, especially if you are unfamiliar with what these jobs entail. But once you have a good grasp of these roles, you might find yourself rearing to change career paths, either from software development to product management, or the other way around.
Here we take a look at what these roles entail to help you come up with an informed career decision.
What Does a Product Manager Do?
Product management is the core of IT development. As a product manager, you’ll oversee the entire life cycle of an IT product– from conceptualizing a product to its design, development, and deployment. This job role entails a broad responsibility, which allows you to fully understand the process and learn more quickly.
Product managers work with software developers, plan the product roadmap, and understand user needs. Since product managers call business-critical-decisions, the success (or failure) of a product depends ultimately lies in their hands. Their decisions can have a profound impact not just on the product but also on other people in the organization.
The day-to-day tasks of a product manager differ drastically from software engineers. They coordinate with the entire software development team such as designers, developers, sales, business development marketing, and legal. Their two-fold function involves the strategy component and its execution. The first part is identifying problems or opportunities and rallying stakeholders to your vision. The second part is executing the vision which entails designing and building the actual product. This also involves launching the product, measuring its success, and ensuring user feedback is addressed.
Although product managers are not required to have technical skills, they have to learn how to effectively work with software developers – and this requires understanding the basic concepts and principles of coding.
What Does a Software Developer Do?
Software developers are responsible for building software solutions. These IT products can either be for the back end infrastructure or user-facing solution. Entry-level software developers may be assigned tasks at any part of the software life cycle. You can be assigned to job functions such as writing codes, debugging and shipping code, checking codes from other developers, and troubleshooting technical problems. Regardless of the role you’re assigned, it is vital to have a good grasp of coding.
According to experts at Entrance Consulting, software programmers are accountable for the quality of the codes and IT solutions they build. Reliability, performance, and scalability are some critical aspects of the software you should build.
Compared to product managers, software developers primarily work with fellow developers and/or software engineers. You’ll be spending a considerable time coding. Expect fewer meetings and distractions as you’ll have to focus on deep thinking, designing quality software, and writing impeccable codes. The roles of a software developer change as you become an engineering manager or tech lead.
Software developers eventually climb the ladder and hold tech lead positions. As your rank moves higher, your role in the organization also broadens. Your responsibility extends beyond the code you’re assigned to the entire project.
Transitioning Between Roles
Both job positions vary greatly depending on the team and company. The job description of a software developer in a multi-million company will likely be more precise as compared to someone in a company with fewer people. Likewise, a PM at a startup company might be thinking of novel ideas and growth hacks while a PM in a major tech company might be closely working with data scientists to interpret data or overseeing numerous experiments.
Although their roles vary greatly, you have the chance to transition between either role later. A software developer can eventually land management and leadership roles. The are many opportunities to learn business concepts. This new skill can help them as they move to a product management position. As you transition to a product management role, you should bear in mind that you’re responsible for managing the process and not helping the developers with their work. This can be a bit confusing especially if you’re used to the role of a developer.
Similarly, product managers with a background in coding or computer science might find it easier to transition to a software development position. However, this isn’t always the case for product managers, especially those who lack coding experience. They would need to hurdle a steep learning curve to gain deep technical experience.
All said, careers in the tech industry aren’t linear. Take your time to discover each job position and find out which role would make you most satisfied. Also, be sure to consider your current skill set, experience, and qualifications as these would help you navigate the tech industry.