Product Development Manager

What is a Product Development Manager?

A Product Development Manager (PDM)—often a software engineer, QA tester, or UX designer—is responsible for identifying new opportunities for developing a new marketable product from concept to distribution. They are also responsible for improving an existing product to meet customers’ needs better and invigorate a current market.

A PDM accomplishes this by accomplishing the following:

  • Conducting market research
  • Analyzing industry trends and developments
  • Working with existing customers to understand their needs better

Product Manager vs. Product Development Manager

While there is a great deal of overlap between product managers (PM) and product development managers, it’s typically a PM who first provides a PDM with a particular problem to solve. Put simply, a PM defines the problem, while a PDM defines the solution.

In the words of one product management leader:

Product management looks at ‘What problem are you solving?’ Product development solves for ‘How are you going to do it?’”

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Key Skills for Success

A day in the life of a product development manager involves managing and coordinating product development projects by focusing on technical feasibility, design optimization, and production issues.

Throughout opportunity exploration and product development, a PDM will generate product requirements, determine specifications and pricing, and develop marketing strategies.

The role of a product development manager also involves working effectively with other departments like marketing, engineering, and manufacturing throughout the product development process. Together, they work to develop a new product’s design and vendor strategy.

To do all of this successfully, the following critical skills come in very handy.

Product Development Manager Skillset Summary Graphic

You can also nurture any parts of this powerful triad that don’t come naturally.

In order to recognize the right opportunity to develop a product that will delight customers and succeed in the market, an effective PDM must have extensive knowledge of the entire product development cycle. They also need a keen understanding of customer needs and marketplace behavior.

Read The Anatomy of a Product Launch

Related terms: Customer Empathy/ User Research/ Technical Product Manager/ Platform Product Manager/ Product Management Talent/ Roadmap/ Project Roadmap