Software engineers are also known as software developers because a large part of their job includes “developing” software used by companies and their employees. Software development requires a particular set of skills and a good deal of knowledge about computers and programming methods. Rather than simply waving a magic wand and creating code, they employ a variety of skills to develop programs. But writing computer code is only part of what they do.
Expectations for software engineers
Those who believe a software engineer’s role is limited to typing random strings of numbers and letters into a keyboard greatly underestimate the complexity of what they do. A software developer’s job involves a mix of both technical knowledge and creativity. But before development can even begin, engineers need to interview users to learn exactly what functionality is expected from the final application. Interviews, interpretation, team discussions and documentation require excellent communication skills and a deep understanding of the end user’s wants, needs and responsibilities.
While code is being developed and tested, software engineers must be extremely patient and observant, identifying bugs and correcting them, so they don’t reappear when the program goes into production. When coding is done, documentation of the code and the program’s functionality must be completed, so anyone can pick up the documentation and quickly understand how the program works and what it does.
One of the least glamorous parts of the job is updating and maintaining computer programs. This involves modifying to correct bugs, improving functionality and upgrading programs in response to changing business requirements. The frequency of updates will depend on the application, but almost all software will need periodic maintenance and updates to stay functional.
Skills needed by successful software engineers
Here are some of the most important skills used almost daily by many software engineers:
Testing and debugging — Developers participate in the development and implementation of applications. An important part of coding is testing the functionality and identifying any bugs in the code. Making sure your final application works as intended is something that should be determined before its release — not after. Failing to prioritize this critical phase of software development can lead to failures causing customer frustration, loss of revenue and longer-term damage to the company’s reputation.
Extensive QA (quality assurance) testing is a cornerstone of the development process and our services at GAP. We help clients test new features and validate existing ones through load testing, stress testing and endurance testing. In some circumstances, where manual processes are less efficient, QA automation is deployed to automate repetitive tasks and scripts for front-end and back-end tiers.
Problem-solving — Problems often arise in software development due to the complex and dynamic nature of the projects. Factors such as tight deadlines, communication breakdowns, requirement changes and unforeseen technical challenges contribute to the prevalence of issues, making adaptability and a strong problem-solving mindset crucial for success in this field. It is the software engineer’s job to identify a problem and develop an appropriate solution. But even more important than the skill itself is fostering an environment that encourages and emboldens team members to have a mindset that lets them overcome impediments.
By embracing the Agile methodology, GAP fosters an environment that effectively supports problem-solving, as it encourages software development team members to continuously evaluate their workflow, proactively identify obstacles, and work together to find innovative solutions in a responsive and adaptable manner.
Multitasking — Managing multiple projects or responsibilities at the same time is frequently necessary in the role of software engineer. Most developers are involved in several projects at the same time, and multitasking skills help to keep them efficient on each of those projects. On the other hand, the level of focus required by developers can make too much multitasking counterproductive. “Context switching” or jumping from one task to another, can sap productivity and attention. To be truly effective, a good developer also needs to be able to switch off outside interruptions and make time for do not disturb mode while also balancing the flexibility needed to keep multiple initiatives moving concurrently.
Teamwork — Software developers frequently work as part of a team, so it’s necessary to have strong teamwork skills. By working well with others, an engineer’s productivity soars and the team functions more efficiently. At GAP, we’ve taken teamwork to a new level, fostering our own delivery system known as 2NABOX, our shorthand for two leaders in a box. We assign two leaders — a Client Executive and a Delivery Manager — to each project. These two leaders work together to make sure the client’s needs are met at both a project management level and a technical and operational level.
Communication — One of the most underrated skills for software engineers is communication. Communication between team members, and with external organizations, can be the difference between project success and failure. Communication skills are a focal point for GAP when recruiting stellar engineering talent. With this priority, GAP is able to offer unparalleled execution capabilities for our clients. Because the need for communication skills in top tier software engineers is so vital, our developers receive on-going training and skill development beyond any industry competitor, which leads to a level of collaboration that both serves our clients and reduces turnover in our technical teams.
Software engineers are essential
Software engineers are critical in our modern, tech-driven world. Their work impacts every industry and product in our daily lives. Despite the challenges, software development offers immense rewards to those who choose this field. It’s important to recognize and appreciate the combination of creativity, technical expertise, communication, collaboration and patience that top-level software engineers possess, as they are key in advancing technology, revolutionizing business and enhancing the tools and platforms we rely on every day.
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