The IT industry offers a plethora of solutions that businesses can apply to improve their performances. However, creating high-quality, end-to-end software products is very difficult. It’s a complicated procedure involving countless cycles of actions and decisions regarding the software product’s core features and offerings.
Amidst all these complications, actions, and decisions, it’s easy to lump the terms “product engineering” and “product development” together. Although the two terms are closely related, they couldn’t be more different in terms of meaning. So, what are the key differences between “product engineering” and “product development”?
Firstly, “product development” is an all-encompassing term that covers all steps involved in the software or IT product creation process. From start to engineering to completion – the term product development covers all vital stages in the software/IT product creation process.
“Product engineering” is a specific term typically used to define the more practical aspects of the software/IT product creation process. Some “practical” or “engineering” aspects of product development processes include – designing, prototyping, functionality design, cost management, etc.
Knowing this distinction is vital for companies that want to work with product developers and engineers. Product developers will typically oversee the entire software or IT product creation process on behalf of their clients. Product engineers will collaborate with the business leaders that hire them to develop user-friendly software or IT products.
To further understand the relationship and the differences between product engineering and product development, let’s review the two in detail –
Understanding Product Engineering
Product Engineering is a service in the software development industry that involves many critical stages of the product creation process. From product design and development to product testing and deploying – product engineers perform various critical tasks. Product engineers don’t just have to deliver complete software products/solutions to their clients.
They also have to guarantee their products’ functionalities. As long as a product engineer’s software product/solution doesn’t satisfy the needs of the end-users, his/her job is incomplete. Product engineers have to ensure that their creations survive in the real world. That means after the product launch, engineers have to analyze the following details
- Quality : Product engineers must ensure that their IT solutions comply with their client’s specific requirements.
- Functionality : The software product/solution must be functional. It must not have dead links, bugs, or other errors.
- Usability : Product engineers also have to oversee their products’ viability on the end users’ side. Unless end-users can easily utilize the software/IT products, an engineer's job is not finished.
- Durability : Long after the product launch, product engineers have to regularly update their product. They may have to upgrade the product's system or fix any issues that clients experience.
Product engineers have to constantly deal with these specifics of their products.
What is Product Development?
The umbrella term “product development” refers to all stages involved in creating and launching a software/IT product. From creating a concept or idea for the product to marketing it after its launch - product development encompasses a product’s complete journey. Here are the stages that most software or IT products typically go through –
Market Research :
Identifying the need for a specific IT or software product. This step involves conversing with target customers, conducting market research, etc.
Quantifying the Product :
Assessing the cost-benefits of creating a specific IT solution. After identifying customer problems and needs, product development teams have to decide whether those problems need solving. Not all problems are big enough to warrant product-based solutions. Product developers assess the long-term cost-benefits of creating a specific software solution in this step.
Product Conceptualization :
In this stage, all product development team members have to apply their creativity to conceptualize the best-possible solutions. Product engineers play a key role in this stage. They, along with other product development team members, devise different functionalities for their intended products.
Early Testing :
To validate their product “concepts,” product development experts conduct early tests. These simple tests are designed to determine whether the specific product idea is worthy of investment or further pursuit. Performing this step before spending resources on product design or prototyping is critical.
Roadmap Design :
Once the product concept is clarified, product development experts can start designing specific roadmaps for their products. Building such roadmaps involves – addressing the core utilities of the product, clarifying what pain points the product must address, etc.
Prototype Testing :
Product development teams develop prototypes or “minimum viable products” (MVPs) for testing purposes. These initial versions of the product are not final. They offer just enough functionality so that they can be used and reviewed by end customers. Based on the reviews, the product development team can finalize the product’s price, marketing strategy, etc.
Release and Feedback :
Once the software product is released, the product development team gears up for customer feedback, complaints, etc. The development team can make necessary enhancements and changes to the product as per the user feedback.
Although product developers and engineers have the same objective, their tasks differ significantly. Creating high-quality software products that address specific user needs is never easy. Ideally, all product development teams should consist of qualified product engineers who can design, prototype, test, and launch high-quality products.