What Does a Director of Product Development Do?

Jay Leone

Product development directors work in many industries and play a critical role in the ultimate success and profitability of countless companies across the globe. A director of product development has many responsibilities, including implementing and overseeing policies that affect product development. These directors perform research studies, submit proposals, negotiate contracts, and often manage a complete staff. They are basically in charge of most operations related to developing company products. Most have an extensive background in most aspects of product development.

In the medical industry, product development systems conduct guided experimentation geared toward finding new drugs or treatments.
In the medical industry, product development systems conduct guided experimentation geared toward finding new drugs or treatments.

People in product development director positions often conduct a lot of research related to the products they develop. They lead product enhancement research and product redesign projects as well as evaluate the practicality of products currently in development. Conducting product testing, preparing progress reports, and researching expansion options are also usual duties of directors of product development. The tasks of analyzing markets and determining whether a product in development should be discontinued or not are duties usually left to someone in this position.

A product development director may be in charge of managing an extensive product development staff. For this reason, directors have to be able to properly and efficiently manage employees. Directors must be able to delegate responsibilities and keep things running smoothly within a product development department. They often hold staff conferences geared towards informing top-level management and employees of the current state of things in product development. Hiring, training and recruiting staff members to be a part of a product development team may also be responsibilities reserved for a director of product development.

Developing new products can be very expensive and time consuming. Product development directors must analyze and review financial proposals related to product development. They also submit proposals, supporting them by allocating funds to execute their plans. These directors research funding, monitor products, and record expenditures all for the benefit of creating a product that will sell well.

A product development director's everyday responsibilities are heavily dependent on the size of the company he or she works for. In a smaller organization, a director of product development may be in charge of all aspects of product development. At a larger company, these directors may be employed to direct production teams, engineers and other employees.

These directors must possess a lot of marketing and technical skills. Many companies require their directors of product development to hold advanced business administration degrees as well as a technical degree related to product development. Most product development directors hold a bachelor's degree or higher and have worked in the product development industry for over ten years.

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