Just about any business or industry that wants to remain competitive or increase market share works on developing new programs catering to a specific audience or stakeholder, and hire product development managers to lead the way in this endeavor. From educational programs to nonprofit grant proposals and new product manufacturing, product development managers plan, direct and evaluate the product development cycle from beginning to end.
In order for a program development manager to properly oversee an entire product or program development cycle, he must initiate standard program development steps -- from program definition and design to program implementation and evaluation. The program development manager conducts needs assessments and gathers data to firm up program requirements. From there, duties and responsibilities include designing program parameters with input from stakeholders such as board members or product managers, creating and testing the program, making adjustments and finally rolling out the program.
Development Life Cycle Qualifications
A program development manager is qualified to successfully implement a program development cycle. Whether the charge is to create a new course curriculum for a university or a new jobs skills program for disabled adults for a nonprofit, this type of manager has the skills and expertise to choose the right tools or methods to accomplish the goals. A logic model, developed by the University of Wisconsin, is an example of a tool a program development manager might use for mapping the development cycle for most any program, from ideas to inputs and outcomes.
Skills and Abilities
Depending on employer needs, a program development manager must have considerable abilities and know-how in program development activities such as research, planning and data collection. The position requires the ability to extract and interpret data collected and the ability to communicate with program stakeholders, such as business or community groups. Skills in personnel management, supervision and budgeting are a plus for keeping deadlines and budgets on track. Other key skills include the ability to plan, organize and coordinate multiple program development activities.
Education and Experience
Successful program development managers typically have education credentials beyond high school. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in business administration, project management or a similar field is favored by many employers. Work experience of four or more years as a program manager or as an administrative professional with budgeting and supervision experience is also desirable by many employers, according to the Project Management Institute. A combination of education and experience is acceptable in many cases. Experience in marketing and public relations is also desirable in terms of effective program promotion.