In my 15 years of total IT experience, I have had the opportunity to work with 4 different organisations. I was lucky enough to work in two service based setups and two product based organisations. In both the set ups, there is a huge difference. Difference is in terms of the work cultures, processes followed, opportunities, performance parameters and growth path.
I wanted to highlight some key advantages of working for a product company versus working for a service company, in my experience of working knee deep in both.
1. Billability Vs Value
As a Tech Delivery Manager in the service industry, I have seen that many a times, a lot of time and effort is spent in justifying your (and of-course your team’s) role, position and billability to the client. Onshore billing model is an even more difficult task to deal with. However, in a product based set up, it’s an entirely different ball game. You are required to work consistently on the betterment of your product, plan and create a road-map and work with your teams to achieve those milestones and releases.
2. Structure Vs Opportunity
In the service industry, once you have grown above a Tech Lead, you aren’t required to be hands-on on the tech side. You can still manage by playing in the Microsoft technologies like excel, word, powerpoint and outlook unless you are very keen to get your hands dirty on the tech front. Plus, there are several restrictions in getting tools/software installed, specially if the client has not mandated the tools /technology, or your manager has not set a KRA for you to learn that new tool/technology.
In the product industry, you have no restrictions on whichever software you want to use, and a very open culture on “how” you can do a particular task. You can learn and make use of the cutting edge technologies to your use and have flexibility to work in your own ways.
3. Process Vs Performance
The biggest relief in the product set up is the absence of irrational processes or protocols that hamper the speed and momentum of a delivery. An associate who is keen to get things done can get it done by any means, without any limitation.
4. Perfection Vs Pace
In services, you strive for perfection as you have bottomline ownership and do not want to be blamed. Often times, that means sticking to a process that is tried and tested to work every time, to ensure perfection. In a product company, you need to be really fast to see if what you are building is even of any value. You are always testing and reinventing your work in the process, in turn, always learning and growing your craft. Hence pace is of much higher value than perfection when it comes to products.
I feel lucky that I am able to implement all my hard earned knowledge of tech management, delivery management, process management, stakeholder management that I have gained in the past 15 years working as a Software Developer, Module lead, Tech Lead, Project Manager and Delivery Manager. I hope, now as an Engineering Head in my current company, I am able to learn much more and add value to my organisation by implementing good practices, nurturing a positive work culture and helping others grow by all means.