Product engineering within a startup – possible or probable?

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The situation in a startup is mostly flexible as an environment but tedious as the job profile. Startups, owing to the limited financial situation, may most often require employees to handle multiple roles to reduce the cost of hiring individuals to manage several tasks. For instance, a marketing professional might have to work both as the content writer and strategist and create marketing plans for the company. In that line of thought, one of the other common pairing of work within a startup is the engineer to handle product management functions.

In this blog, we will discuss key aspects relating to product engineering.

  • Who is a product engineer?
  • Role of a product engineer in a startup
  • Means to minimize the cost of product engineering in a startup

Considering the working of a startup system, the product is of utmost importance and as a team, all the resources used should be accounted for accurately. The role of a product engineer is to ensure that the product is crafted well beyond satisfactory level with the best use of resources at hand.  As the role of a product engineer is critical, they are responsible for the complete design, development, production and maintenance of the product with the best use of resources and technology. The product engineer is as much the inventor as the executor of the product as he is responsible for formulating a plan that would best suit the idea or core purpose of the product thus created. Hence, it is imperative for the business to invest well in a product engineer who knows his craft and can put his knowledge to the best use.

Having said that, the responsibility of a product engineer may extend well beyond the scope of product engineering itself. With limited resources, any startup would try to have a person who is both a product engineer and project manager. While it is efficient for the engineer to oversee the project in progress and devise the course of action for the project, it also requires them to have a sound understanding of project management. Project management, as a broad term involves drafting a course of action to handle resources, meet deadlines and manage personnel.

However, in reality, the cost involved in finding one person to handle both of these aspects is extremely cumbersome. One of the easiest solution to handle this situation is to outsource the work of a product engineer thus eliminating the purpose of a project manager. While it may seem like the core activity, product engineering outsourcing could be successful as

  • the startup can focus its resources on other activities including marketing, sales, and delivery
  • the best use of technology as outsourcing companies hire engineers who have the vast understanding of the new inventions
  • reduced hiring cost
  • cost effective as the need for obtaining new technology is limited

In conclusion, while a startup can resort to the option of in-house product engineering, exemplary use of resources and technology in a constrained financial situation might lack the edge that the company needs to leap up the competition ladder. If outsourcing could be an option, why think of other way?

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