2023-06-09    Share on: Twitter | Facebook | HackerNews | Reddit

The Role and Responsibilities of a Forward Deployed Engineer - Bridging the Gap Between Software Products and Customer Needs

Bridging the gap between software products and customer needs, Forward Deployed Engineers are the game-changers of enterprise software. Discover their unique role in driving success and why it's in high demand. Don't miss out!


A Forward Deployed Engineer (FDE) is a versatile software engineer who works closely with customers to bridge the gap between enterprise software products and their specific implementation needs. FDEs collaborate with engineering teams, provide technical support, partner with product teams, assist in revenue growth activities, and lead customer success efforts. With a mix of technical skills, an entrepreneurial mindset, and product intuition, FDEs play a crucial role in ensuring successful product deployment and customer satisfaction.


In the fast-paced world of enterprise software, there is an increasing demand for versatile engineers who can seamlessly integrate complex products into customers' specific implementation needs. This demand has given rise to the role of Forward Deployed Engineer (FDE). FDEs play a crucial role in ensuring successful technical integration and ongoing product deployment, acting as a bridge between the product suite and the unique requirements of each customer. This blog post will delve into the responsibilities of FDEs and shed light on why this role is in high demand.

Understanding the Role of FDEs

Forward Deployed Engineers are software engineers with broad skill sets that enable them to work closely with customers and iterate on enterprise software products. They possess technical expertise while being customer-facing, making them a valuable asset in various areas of an enterprise software organization.

Collaboration with Engineering

Forward Deployed Engineers (FDEs) play a crucial role in fostering collaboration between engineering teams and external stakeholders. By actively contributing to internal codebases and working closely with core engineering teams, FDEs ensure that customer feedback and implementation needs are effectively communicated and addressed.

FDEs act as the bridge between the technical complexities of the product and the understanding of external stakeholders. They have a deep understanding of the product's architecture, functionalities, and underlying technologies. This expertise allows them to effectively communicate technical topics to non-technical stakeholders, such as customers or business executives.

When customers encounter challenges or require customizations to the product suite, FDEs work closely with the engineering team to find viable solutions. They provide valuable insights on the implementation needs and collaborate with engineers to identify the best approach. FDEs act as advocates for customers, ensuring that their requirements are properly understood and addressed within the product's capabilities.

Through this collaboration, FDEs contribute to the improvement of internal codebases. They provide feedback to engineering teams regarding areas that require enhancements or optimizations based on real-world customer experiences. This feedback loop helps create a continuous improvement process for the product, making it more robust and aligned with customer needs.

Furthermore, FDEs actively participate in cross-functional meetings, bringing the perspective of external stakeholders to the engineering team. This collaboration helps align engineering efforts with customer requirements and provides valuable context for decision-making.

Collaboration with engineering is a critical aspect of the FDE role. By effectively communicating technical topics to external stakeholders and working closely with the engineering team, FDEs ensure that customer feedback is accurately relayed, implementation needs are addressed, and the product continues to evolve to meet customer expectations.

Partnership with Product Teams

Forward Deployed Engineers (FDEs) play a pivotal role in establishing a strong partnership between external stakeholders and the product teams. By leveraging their customer-facing experience and technical expertise, FDEs bring valuable insights to the table, shaping the product roadmap and driving its evolution.

FDEs act as the voice of the customer within the organization. They gather feedback, requirements, and feature requests directly from customers and effectively communicate these insights to the product teams. By understanding the customers' pain points, desired features, and use cases, FDEs provide invaluable information that helps shape the product's direction.

Throughout the engineering lifecycle, FDEs collaborate closely with the product teams to iterate on existing features and deliver new use cases. They work in tandem with product managers, developers, and designers to ensure that the product roadmap aligns with the specific needs of customers. FDEs provide real-world context and technical expertise, enabling product teams to make informed decisions regarding prioritization, feature enhancements, and trade-offs.

FDEs also act as a bridge between product teams and customers during the implementation phase. They facilitate ongoing communication, ensuring that the product is implemented effectively and meets customers' expectations. FDEs provide guidance on technical integration, address any gaps between the product suite and customer requirements, and offer insights on best practices for successful deployment.

Additionally, FDEs actively participate in testing and validation processes, providing feedback on new features and enhancements from the customer's perspective. They collaborate with product teams to conduct user acceptance testing, gather feedback, and ensure that the product meets the desired outcomes.

By establishing a strong partnership with product teams, FDEs contribute to the overall success of the product. Their unique position allows them to bridge the gap between customer needs and product development, ensuring that the product remains relevant, competitive, and aligned with the evolving market landscape.

The partnership between FDEs and product teams is essential for driving innovation, customer satisfaction, and product evolution. FDEs bring customer insights, technical expertise, and a deep understanding of implementation needs to collaborate closely with product teams, influencing the product roadmap, and delivering value-driven solutions to customers.

Support for Revenue Growth

Forward Deployed Engineers (FDEs) contribute significantly to revenue growth by providing technical expertise and support in various revenue-related activities. Their role extends beyond engineering and involves actively participating in sales meetings, leading technical discussions, and completing Requests for Proposal (RFPs).

As technical advisors, FDEs join sales meetings with non-technical external stakeholders, such as executives or business leaders. In this capacity, they provide valuable insights into the product's capabilities, technical requirements, and implementation process. By bridging the gap between the product suite and the customers' specific needs, FDEs help potential clients understand the value proposition and make informed purchasing decisions.

Moreover, FDEs take the lead in technical sales calls and meetings with external technical stakeholders. They are responsible for communicating the technical aspects of the product, answering complex inquiries, and addressing any technical concerns potential customers may have. FDEs play a crucial role in building trust and confidence in the product's ability to meet the customers' requirements.

FDEs also contribute to revenue growth by completing RFPs. These documents are often requested by potential customers to evaluate software solutions for their specific needs. FDEs leverage their technical knowledge and customer insights to provide comprehensive and accurate responses to these RFPs. By effectively showcasing the product's capabilities and aligning them with customer requirements, FDEs play a key role in unlocking new revenue opportunities.

Additionally, FDEs collaborate with the sales and marketing teams to develop technical collateral, such as case studies, technical whitepapers, and solution guides. These resources help articulate the product's value proposition, highlight successful customer implementations, and provide technical details to support the sales process. FDEs actively contribute to these materials, ensuring they are accurate, relevant, and impactful.

By supporting revenue growth initiatives, FDEs contribute to the overall success of the organization. Their technical expertise, customer-centric mindset, and ability to effectively communicate the value of the product position them as trusted advisors and advocates for both the customers and the sales teams. FDEs help drive new business opportunities, enhance customer satisfaction, and ultimately contribute to the financial growth of the company.

FDEs play a crucial role in supporting revenue growth by providing technical support, leading sales discussions, completing RFPs, and developing collateral. Their ability to bridge the gap between technical complexities and customer needs helps build trust, accelerate sales cycles, and unlock new revenue streams. FDEs are instrumental in driving the financial success of the organization.

Leadership in Customer Success

Forward Deployed Engineers (FDEs) take on a leadership role in ensuring customer success throughout the implementation and deployment of the product. They act as technical leads and provide critical support to customers, facilitating onboarding, and driving the adoption of new features into customers' production environments.

FDEs serve as the primary point of contact for customers during the implementation phase. They work closely with customer success teams to understand the customers' specific requirements and develop tailored implementation plans. FDEs leverage their technical expertise to guide customers through the integration process, ensuring a smooth and successful onboarding experience.

As technical leads, FDEs provide ongoing support to customers, addressing any technical issues or challenges they may encounter. They troubleshoot and resolve complex technical problems, acting as a bridge between the customers and the engineering team. FDEs leverage their deep understanding of the product to provide timely and effective solutions, ensuring that customers can fully leverage the capabilities of the software.

In addition to technical support, FDEs play a critical role in driving the adoption of new features and enhancements. They collaborate with customers to understand their specific use cases and provide guidance on how to best utilize the product's functionality to achieve their desired outcomes. FDEs conduct training sessions, create documentation, and offer best practices to ensure that customers can maximize the value they derive from the product.

FDEs also act as advocates for customers within the organization. They actively collect feedback, feature requests, and insights from customers and communicate them to the product teams. By representing the customers' voice, FDEs contribute to the continuous improvement of the product, ensuring that it evolves to meet their changing needs.

Building strong relationships with customers is a key aspect of the FDE role. FDEs engage in regular communication, conduct business reviews, and seek opportunities to deepen customer engagement. By understanding the customers' goals, challenges, and aspirations, FDEs can provide personalized recommendations and strategic guidance, ultimately fostering long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty.

FDEs assume a leadership role in customer success by providing technical guidance, support, and advocacy throughout the implementation and deployment process. Their deep technical expertise, customer-centric approach, and ability to build strong relationships position them as trusted partners for customers. FDEs play a crucial role in driving customer success, ensuring that customers achieve their desired outcomes and maximizing the value they derive from the product.

Why Forward Deployed Engineers are in High Demand?

The increasing complexity of enterprise software products and the variability in customer requirements have created a significant demand for FDEs. Here are some reasons why this role is sought after:

Technical Expertise and Customer Focus

FDEs possess a unique mix of technical skills and customer-centricity. They understand the intricacies of the product and can effectively communicate its value to both technical and non-technical stakeholders. Their ability to bridge the gap between engineering and customer needs is invaluable in ensuring successful deployments.

Agile Problem Solvers

FDEs exhibit an entrepreneurial mindset, allowing them to adapt quickly to evolving customer requirements. They are adept at identifying challenges, proposing solutions, and iterating on product features. This agility is essential in a rapidly changing technological landscape, where customers' needs evolve at a fast pace.

Product Intuition

By working closely with customers, FDEs develop a deep understanding of their pain points and aspirations. This product intuition enables them to provide valuable insights to product teams, helping shape the product roadmap and prioritize features that align with customer needs. FDEs contribute to the development of customer-centric software solutions.


Forward Deployed Engineers play a vital role in enterprise software organizations, acting as the bridge between products and customer implementations. Their broad skill set, technical expertise, entrepreneurial mindset, and product intuition make them invaluable assets in driving customer success, revenue growth, and product evolution. As enterprise software continues to evolve, the demand for FDEs will likely increase, providing software engineers with a customer-facing path that allows them to thrive in both technical and business domains

To cite this article:

    author  = {Krystian Safjan},
    title   = {The Role and Responsibilities of a Forward Deployed Engineer - Bridging the Gap Between Software Products and Customer Needs},
    journal = {Krystian's Safjan Blog},
    year    = {2023},