Product Engineering

By: Kenny Fok
Date: September 26, 2021

What is Product Engineering?

A lot of people asks what Product Engineering is. Well, Product engineering is effectively and systematically designing a device, system, or assembly to form an end-product using Engineering-centric approach and process. Aspects of product engineering services include optimizing cost, functionality, the look and feel, safety, etc. It is a highly specialized field that can, at times, seem overwhelming. In today's modern world, Product Engineering is much more complex than it used to be because of the introduction to microprocessors. Almost all modern products contain a mixture of hardware, software, and firmware that performs the functions of a digital computer's Central Processing Unit (CPU). So, what do you do if you have an amazing new product idea but are not familiar with what Product Engineering is, or perhaps are not familiar with Engineering at all?

Picture of IoT network

Production Development Engineering Cycle

Product Engineering is relatively a new field. Traditionally, we have multiple specific Engineering fields such as Electrical Engineering, Software Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. But what is the Product Development Engineering process? During the traditional product development cycle, a product team is formed with a group of Engineers from each relevant specific Engineering field. The product team is typically led by a Program Manager who is ultimately responsible for the success and failure of a product and oversees the progress of the project. In this product development Engineering process, one shortcoming is lack of Engineering leadership for the Engineering teams, which can result in less optimized overall engineering solutions. This is why a Project Engineer and a Program Manager should work together. According to eSub Construction Software, Project Engineers and Program Managers are both necessary for Projects because they bring different perspectives. The Program Manager has a business background, so they are concerned about a project from a business perspective. On the other hand, a Project Engineer is concerned about a project from an Engineering perspective. The Project Engineer wants to schedule and motivate technical staff to deliver the best product in the quickest time. With the both of them working together, they can provide high standard results to clients.

As we have learned, there are great benefits when an Engineer oversees the Product team along with the Program Manager because it provides engineering leadership and allows them to an optimized product solution. These Engineers are usually titles as a "Project Engineer" or "Product Engineer" (PE). In order to become a effective PE, you usually have to participate in many various product development projects with 15+ years of experience. In a large scale project, a team of PE's may be formed to oversee the large engineering team.

How to identify the "right" Product Engineering for your product

What is Product Engineering's key component? When trying to create outstanding software products, you need to find a worthy Engineer. According to Perfectial, a Product Engineer is familiar with the market and ensures that the product meets the customer's expectations. They identify problems and create solutions. Identifying an experienced and effective Project Engineer is extremely challenging. Here are some guidelines to determine whether the candidate is the "right" Product Engineer for your product:

  • While Project Engineer mainly oversees and manages the project, an effective PE would be more hand-on rather than just reading "reports". For example, if there is software being developed, a competent PE would install the software, test it out first-hand, and provide feedback to the engineering team.
  • Various wide-range product development experience with at least 15 years. This ensures that PE is knowledgeable and has various areas of expertise, rather than just one specific expertise. This allows them to optimize Engineering decisions to the best of their ability.
  • In additions to product development experience, PE's with Industrial Intellectual Property (IP) experience (e.g, inventions, patents) are very valuable for developing a competitive product. For example, during product development, PE's with IP experience are more mindful to identify any potential patentable invention or file for patent applications. Protecting IP helps to position the product competitively and add business value.

What are Product Engineering services?

Identifying a qualified PE is hard, and costly. Large corporations typically "home-grow" internal Engineers with high performance to become PE's They do this by having Engineers participate in the product development team early in their career. Small companies do not usually have the luxury to home-grow PE's due to budget and time constraints. So, what is a Product Engineering Service? Product Engineering Services are typically being offered in two forms:

  • 1. Individual Contractor offering Product Engineering Services. For this option, you hire the PE as a contractor, who will work with your existing Engineering teams.

Pros: More widely available

Cons: Challenging to integrate the PE with the existing Engineering team with no prior working relationship.

  • 2. Product Development Firm providing Engineering services along with Product Engineering.

Pro: A well formed experienced Engineering team with PE ready to go.

Cons: If you already some existing Engineering resources, will need to identify an innovative ways to integrate both teams together.

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