How to choose the right career path in IT: the perspective of working in a software house vs product company

Written by: Karolina Fras, Employer Branding Leader


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The following article will explain how cooperation within a software house differs from cooperation within a product company. Moreover, they will tell you how the organization profile affects the development of the technological product.

The expertise comes from exposing yourself to experiencing new things and challenging your previous thoughts. Therefore, there are questions you probably ask yourself as an IT specialist. Where to work? Which place to choose for career development? What is related to working in a software house? Is it different from working in a product company?

We discussed these issues with our specialists, who built their career portfolios in various organizations. Adrian Warkocz, Senior Frontend Developer, and Michał Sipiak, Senior QA Specialist shared their perspective. They decided to return to Espeo after several years of gathering different experiences. Adrian and Michał are professionals who have designed a practical career path for themselves. Their point of view can be valuable both for clients and specialists seeking the perfect career path. We asked them the following questions:

What’s your perspective on working in a software house? 

Adrian Warkocz: The most essential part of working in a software house is that the projects are constantly changing. We have a well-established framework that allows us to adjust psychologically to a new challenge. We can assume that here is the beginning, these are our goals, we can see where our role in the project will end. It is not always the case that we create a project from scratch but we have a certain time frame on the horizon. There is a clearly marked start and finish, which makes the pursuit of milestones easier from a psychological perspective. If I work on a project for a long time and I start to feel that I would like to try something different, I can ask for a change, move to another project, and even completely change the technology.

Michał Sipiak: From my perspective, the biggest merit is that while working in the software house, you are in the position of business advisor. We cooperate closely with clients and that allows us to establish partnership relations. Therefore, we can directly suggest the best solutions for the product and client. We need to stay up-to-date with the newest solutions and trends. We need to use modern tools and follow what’s new on the market. That’s a great value for both the client and the employee. Technology is moving forward so fast, tools and trends change from year to year, and a software house seems to be the best place to keep up with these changes and not be left behind.

Who would you recommend working in a software house to?

Michał Sipiak: There is no one-size-fits-all recipe. For me, a software house is a place for people who value independence, enjoy working with clients and want to develop their own skills. Hierarchy is usually flat and your opinion matters. I think that’s also a place where you can grow faster. This is because we are able to change projects and technologies if we want. We are experts with diverse experiences with passion for constant learning and development. I believe that a software house is a place for people with a proactive attitude.

Adrian Warkocz: I value having an influence on what I do and to be able to change. I see a software house as a place for people who mind to be up-to-date with market changes and have an impact on the final project. My point of view also changed due to different experiences and pandemic situations. Therefore, a sense of belonging has become important to me. I’ve missed it elsewhere, and it was remote work and the conditions of the pandemic that drew my attention to this topic even more. That’s why I decided to come back to Espeo.

What was the main reason to come back to Espeo?

Adrian Warkocz: Software houses are not always structured the same way. During my career, I had experiences where I was sent directly to the client and had no ties to the company and didn’t feel comfortable. The method of managing the team and running the organization is important to me. At Espeo, I enjoy the flat structure and the fact that I know the status of the projects. If I do not like something, I can talk about it without embarrassment. I am confident that I will be listened to and that some action will be taken. Espeo is a specific place where you become a member of Crew, and you can build lasting relationships. Even after some time, there are still lots of my colleagues, and I’m happy to work with them again. 

Michał Sipiak: There is something in it. I would say that Espeo loves you for who you are. It does not try to change who you are to fit the company’s personality model. Therefore, you’re independent and you can guide your development. At Espeo, you can self-evaluate based on clearly defined guidelines. We all work towards the same goal. You can talk to everyone about everything without worrying about how it will affect your future career.

Interested in joining #EspeoCrew? Check out our open job positions and apply!

What’s your perspective on working in a product company?

Adrian Warkocz: Companies are very different. Usually, they have one specific product. Working in a product company is based on large projects that can last for years. You can change a certain scope of tasks but often the space for maneuver is smaller than in a software house. While you finish revision no. 2, there is revision no. 3, and sometimes you can feel like it’s a never-ending story. From a psychological perspective, you have to approach yourself differently not to lose your motivation. In my case, I saw that’s not a good career path for me. I don’t find myself in organizations where we face similar topics daily. For a person who doesn’t like a strong stabilization, burnout can happen quickly. 

Michał Sipiak: From my point of view, in a larger product company, it is difficult to offer new solutions and tools. Usually, they are already planned, purchased, and contracted for a long time. From an employee’s perspective, it is attractive to have well-known products on your CV. Additionally, working in a product company is stable. However, I see here a risk to constantly working on the same tools. Especially, specialization in a single technology or product poses a great risk – afterwards, it might be difficult to find a place in such a dynamic market.

Adrian Warkocz: There is also another point to consider. Product companies often have a larger budget because their product is designed for long service life. As a result, the hardware or software can be of the highest quality. They have funds for what software houses may not. In addition, there is more time to work on the project since the development pace is slower.

Michał Sipiak: Tools with expensive licenses – often such automation is a vicious circle. If the program does everything for us, the human becomes part of the process. After all, the software takes care of most of the work for us. The point I am trying to make is that it is dangerous to become a clicker in our market. It’s a bit like getting a driving license and getting into a Tesla… Would you be able to drive a classic car afterwards? In both cases you drive a car but it requires different driving skills. Generally, both ways have pros and cons.

Adrian Warkocz: My experience indicates that there is also a lot of conceptual work in product companies, which involves numerous discussions about product development. Is it an advantage or a disadvantage? It is a very individual matter. Some people like to figure out the subject conceptually before starting a typical technical work. However, I prefer the other side – more practical tasks than discussions.

To whom would you recommend working in a product company?

Michał Sipiak: I can share the experience I gained as part of an internal IT team at one big company. I had no contact with the client. The internal business was an actual client for us. So, that’s a big difference from working at a software house. Most often, you are part of a team with little influence on the final product. For that reason, product companies make a good place for people who like a stable environment. In addition, from my perspective, promotion in such companies is often influenced by many structured factors, and it takes longer.

Adrian Warkocz: When I moved from Espeo to a product company a few years ago, my colleague was leaving at the same time. Accidently, we even ended up in the same company. And this is the best example of how different people find themselves in different places. He appreciates stability, working on the same product, knowing what awaits him in six months, a year, and beyond. I have opposite needs. For me, it is important to have the perspective of change. I need to know that I can move forward and face various challenges. Moreover, I need to know that I can make an impact on the product.

Michał Sipiak: To sum up, if someone is interested in stabilization, a product company is an excellent opportunity. For some people that can be the best solution.

What is the client perspective?

The type of organization influences the characteristics of experts inside the organization. As a client or project owner, it’s valuable to see the point of your developers. Right people are a success factor of every project. Therefore, that’s a reason to consider the differences and potential advantages. How it’s to develop a particular digital solution with a software house and within an internal team? That’s a question to ask yourself before starting the project.

Karolina Fras, Employer Branding Leader

Adrian Warkocz: A software house is primarily a group of people who have various experiences and are valuable advisors for the client in product development. People who work in software houses have the ability to look at the product with an ”out of the box” mindset. Also, they are up-to-date with technologies and novelties. While testing a new product, it is also much easier to scale the team and reduce it while seeing that it’s not meeting the business needs. In that case, working with a software house is more cost-effective and easier from the organizational perspective.

Michał Sipiak: From my point of view, expertise and consulting knowledge are top values. As a client, you hire a software house with experienced specialists. You describe the project, and you get solutions that tell you how to achieve it in the best way, taking your needs and capabilities into account. I disagree with this simple scaling as a larger value. Scaling up and completing projects quickly are the characteristics of contract workers, and I see the differences between software house experts and contractors.

Software house vs product company: summary

The best summary of our conversation will be the question that I asked my colleagues at the end. ”How do you see your professional future?” Probably many people wondered about the answer while preparing for the interview. In practice, both Adrian and Michał have not got such a question yet. Why? I think their answers speak for themselves. After a moment of reflection, they both admitted it was impossible to predict how the industry will change in 2 years. What they would now indicate as a dream project or technology may soon be overshadowed.

What is the current perspective after coming back to Espeo?

At the moment, Adrian wants to develop mobile technologies and leadership competencies. Michał, in turn, wants to create code and learn about new technologies. They both mentioned that thanks to the variety of projects, they have a chance to stay up-to-date, which is their priority. Therefore, that was the main reason for their return to work at a software house.

Through years of experience in various organizations, they have concluded that the priority is to stay current with the market trends. From their perspective, they can achieve it in a software house. Moreover, in their eyes, such working and development conditions make a software house an excellent business partner for clients. Here they can find the most experienced and versatile specialists who will take on the role of a business consultant to implement innovative and complex ideas.

Does it mean that Software House is a perfect place to work for everyone?

There is no golden meaning for everyone. Everyone should identify their priorities. Then choose the best space to realize them. In the case of Adrian and Michał, this place is a software house. For others that could be a product company, project outsourcing company, or freelancing may be a perfect choice.

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