When I was 6, my mother bought us our first computer. She got that arranged through the owner of a small software development shop that was in charge of their accounting software at her work (a manufacturing plant).
His favorite joke was: “I am the best programmer among accountants and the best accountant among programmers.”
As funny as it sounds, that was fairly true. I got involved with a couple of accounting projects that relied on an in-depth understanding of the industry. I have also worked with CRM providers after (which led to building our in-house CRM), automotive manufacturers, banks, educational companies, telecom, magazines—you name it.
Larger organizations, who employ thousands of developers, may live with a well-defined process and strict project management isolating developers from the use cases of a business. Even in that case, many software developers still have to figure out the workflow and build their infrastructure according to their customers’ behavior.
Smaller shops inevitably get integrated into the workflow of their customers.
That’s especially valid for product companies where understanding the market is paramount. Developers often have to test competitors’ products, read reviews and blog posts comparing different solutions, or even following industry sources in order to get up to speed.
Software developers may always jump between jobs that don’t require them to understand business objectives and behaviors. But most engineers get acquainted with every industry they operate in, similarly to their colleagues in marketing, management, and business development departments.
The scope of the projects may be more limited, but it’s also a matter of curiosity and genuine interest in building the best possible solution. If you are a software developer who is inclined to understand the business problems surrounding a project and is eager to find solutions through the project, then you definitely have a promising career waiting for you.