What is the Difference Between Software Engineering and Software?

To the untrained eye, there is no difference between software engineering and software development. However, within the IT world, there are major dissimilarities.

Software Engineering vs. Software Development

The difference between software engineering and software development begins with job function. A software engineer may be involved with software development, but few software developers are engineers.

To explain, software engineering refers to the application of engineering principles to create software. Software engineers participate in the software development life cycle through connecting the client’s needs with applicable technology solutions. Thus, they systematically develop processes to provide specific functions. In the end, software engineering means using engineering concepts to develop software.

On the other hand, software developers are the driving creative force behind programs. Software developers are responsible for the entire development process. They are the ones who collaborate with the client to create a theoretical design. They then have computer programmers create the code needed to run the software properly. Computer programmers will test and fix problems together with software developers. Software developers provide project leadership and technical guidance along every stage of the software development life cycle.

Software Engineer Skills and Job Description

Software engineers are expected to have technical expertise, demonstrable personal accomplishments and experience with using open source tools and projects. They should be proficient with pattern design, automated testing and fault-tolerant systems. Software engineers should know how to create and maintain IT architecture, large scale data stores and cloud-based systems. They should also be familiar with how to build scalable data pipelines and scalable domain specific languages. They must be able to work effectively by themselves and with remote teams.

Senior software engineers must oversee complex systems analysis, design and development programs. They will play an active role as a leader, consultant and individual contributor on various projects. They must provide analytical advice in identifying and implementing new IT uses in order to help clients and the company reach strategic objectives. They must be able to manage resources, coordinate development tasks and supervise technical project plans. They often collaborate with IT, operations and development staff through the software development life cycle. Finally, they must maintain a smooth running operation through identifying and recommending improvement processes.

Software Developer Skills and Job Description

Software developers must have excellent analytical skills because they will be required to continually compare needs with software capabilities. They must be familiar with computer languages in order to effectively work with computer programs. In order to do this, they must have formidable feedback and communication skills. Keep in mind that minor error or miscommunications could result in major financial and operational problems. Being detail orientated will help them manage simultaneous projects at different development stages.

Software developers must continually monitor project updates and reported defects in order to manage necessary modifications. Consequently, they must constantly shift gears between assigned projects, deadlines and schedules. Software developers must conduct experimental software runs to ensure quality and consistency. They must have an eye for perfection in order to properly direct repairs and revisions of programs designed to increase operating efficiency. Some software developers are tasked with being the primary point of contact with clients and vendors.

In the end, the main difference between software engineering and software development is that the latter oversees the engineering while the former focuses on creating functional programs.