Starting on the right footing is vital for the success of a product. Learn to create PRDs that benefit the development process instead of getting it bogged down. This is the document that will be your guide, roadmap, and compass in launching a new product or app.
PRD or Product Requirements Document template is universally considered the ultimate best friend of all product managers. However, it's not quite as straightforward to make an effective PRD, and for many, it proves to be a real challenge. If it's not given enough attention, you may end up with a pretty much useless list that brings little to no value. But if you will dedicate time and effort to preparing it, the product launch will most likely be a success.
The PRD is one of the key documents that the whole development team uses as a basis throughout the entire development process. There are a couple of ways you can maintain this document. One is to use a PRD platform like a spreadsheet, database, or word document. On the other hand, if your sector requires documentation formats according to the industry or government standards, you may have to create or follow a specific Product Requirements Document template. It's worth noting that an effective PRD allows your team to work on the same page and have significant product development progress.
PRD should include essential things about your company and the product you are making. And it might be easy to get lost, especially if you have some doubts about what to add to the document.
But worry no more! This post will guide you in preparing a practical and useful PRD. So, stay with us to learn more.
What is a product requirements document?
Before jumping into writing a Product Requirements Document, we should try to understand what it really is. Basically, a PRD refers to a file containing information regarding the product you want to construct. Features, functionality, value, and purpose of the product you are going to build are just some of the details usually included in a PRD. Your organization's development team will then use this document as a guide to create the outlined product. In most cases, PRD is used in waterfall settings where item delivery, design, and definition work hand-in-hand. But it's worth noting that they are also quite popular in agile environments.
As we've already mentioned, you should include every important detail associated with the product release. Aside from the development process, PRD is also used in the product release process.
Although PRDs are designed to hint at the possible product implementation, they do not contain specific requirements for product launch.
How to write a product requirements document?
Writing a PRD isn't easy, especially for those who don't know what it is and what it’s for. An effective PRD includes essential details regarding the product you will make. Here are a couple of crucial points to remember:
- The PRD will never be complete since you need to update it daily or weekly.
- You should collaborate with other stakeholders in your company to ensure that everyone knows where the PRD is going.
- A Product Requirements Document doesn't have to be lengthy. In fact, one page is often enough to include everything.
That being said, it is essential to use the right tool in crafting your PRD. For the past years, many corporates have relied exclusively on Microsoft Word in making and managing their PRD examples. And that could often result in inaccurate and outdated PRDs once they've bounced through the entire team's mailboxes.
PRD is essential as it sets the possible release time, ensures that the product can meet the customer's wants, and maintains all contributors in the same place.
Thanks to the rise of modern technology, we now have a broad arsenal of tools at our disposal to create and handle PRDs. It is essential to use a tool that supports effective collaboration to ensure that everyone has access to the latest version of the relevant document. Aside from that, you can also use an intranet portal, an internal wiki, or even Google Docs to manage your organization's PRD.
Why is a Product Requirements Document important?
There are several reasons justifying the significance of crafting a practical Product Requirements Document. One is that it serves as a place that keeps the team members and other stakeholders in the same space with a shared understanding regarding the product. Ensuring that the delivery of features or products will succeed calls for effective collaboration between the organization's development teams, marketing, support, sales, design, and engineering departments.
PRD is also essential as it sets the possible release time, ensures that the product can meet the customer's wants, and maintains all contributors in the same place.
This document can be a starting point and basis for when the team can begin making relevant artifacts, such as mockups, wireframes, design documents, functional specifications, etc.
What is an MRD?
An MRD or Market Requirements Document refers to a file that includes everything associated with the market opportunity. An MRD usually contains information about the competitors, target audience, and market size. It is designed to help product managers combine market research and theories. This simple document can briefly explain the needs and wants of your target customer that your service or product can meet or satisfy.
Many mistakenly think that MRD and PRD are pretty much the same thing. The truth is that these documents are designed for entirely different purposes.
A compelling and well-written Product Requirements Document offers many benefits to the entire team.
An MRD includes the possible needs and requirements of the customer and how the product will satisfy them. On the other hand, PRD defines everything included in the product development process.
What's the difference between a PRD and an MRD?
Some are guilty of using PRD and MRD interchangeably, thinking they have the same purpose. In fact, both documents have their very own distinct and separate goals.
MRD defines the following:
- User and buyer profiles.
- A detailed definition of the target market.
- Possible challenges of the target customers and how the product can address the issues.
- Technical and system requirements.
- Customer needs.
- Use models or use cases.
- General position.
- Target customer and market.
- Task objectives.
- Executive summary.
Some project managers still experience certain downsides in using PRDs.
On the other hand, PRD defines the following:
- Desired vs. required functionality.
- Non-functional requirements.
- Usability requirements.
- Design or interface requirements.
- Product overview.
- Data requirements.
- Support requirements.
Pros, Cons, And Alternatives
A compelling and well-written Product Requirements Document offers many benefits to the entire team. And this has been backed up by numerous expert studies. It does not mean that the PRD is a perfect file, however.
In line with that, some project managers still experience certain downsides in using PRDs. Let's take a closer look at some pros, cons, and alternatives to PRDs:
- A PRD serves as a guide to calculating an estimated budget to fund the whole product development process.
- Mirrors the time allotted to complete the project development process.
- Promotes a mutual understanding between the developers and users of the product.
- Consists of essential steps to arrive at the final product while allowing the manager to exclude and include some features.
- Helps project managers to determine possible issues that may happen in the future.
- A detailed Product Requirements Document may be costly.
- Creating PRD requires more time and effort in identifying essential specifications for a specific project.
Some people may have a hard time preparing a practical Product Requirements Document. If that's the case, you may be thinking of a possible alternative. Considering that PRD is designed to connect the space between the product development team and the customers, here are some great options you can use. These alternatives still follow the principles of an effective PRD.
- Utilizing Agile project management approach.
- Efficient interaction and collaboration between stakeholders involved in the project.
How can a PRD help a product development team?
Many of you may be wondering how a Product Requirements Document can help a product development team. As a project manager, you would want every member of your production team to have the same understanding of the problems experienced by your customers to come up with practical solutions.
The challenge here is how you can help your team develop a product that comes with outstanding features and is capable of solving the task at hand. Aside from that, it will also require the entire team to think more about the product functionality to achieve a satisfactory result.
A well-detailed Product Requirements Document can help the team reach the same product results, as it describes the primary purpose of the product and its specific functionality. In most cases, these include essential information regarding the value and the building process it will offer.
A PRD can help the production team by answering the following questions:
- How do you achieve success after the product launch?
- What will the final product look like?
- How your target audience will react to your product launch?
- What will be the essence of the final product and its features to your customers and company?
- What is your target audience?
- What is the primary purpose of the product?
How should a product manager use a PRD?
A product manager is the one who creates a Product Requirements Document in collaboration with other stakeholders and members of the team. However, product managers are not required to develop PRDs alone. In fact, it is recommended to engage the best-suited members in the team who can significantly contribute to the entire document preparation. For instance, a product manager may hire a designer for mockups and wireframes. Moreover, marketers can also be of great help, and product managers should consider involving them in the process as much as possible.
On the other hand, it is worth noting that a product manager will be the one managing the whole Product Requirements Document process.
Suppose the PRD has been crafted and managed correctly. In that case, anyone in the team, especially the product manager, will be able to use it as a source of information regarding the steps in the product development process.
What should be included in a PRD?
Organizations are free to use different forms in making a Product Requirements Document. The PRD template you will use will vary depending on your industry, company, and team.
To give you an overview of how to create an effective PRD, here are some of the essential elements that should be present in your Product Requirements Document:
Goals and objectives
The first part of your PRD should explain the idea behind the development of a product. This is where you can write down the context regarding your product development and determine how you will connect the mission and vision of your product.
Aside from that, it is also vital to ensure that all problems the product is meant to address are clearly stated. This will definitely aid developers in building a product specifically designed for its purpose.
A smaller PRD is ideal, especially if it's your company's first one.
It is also essential to include the primary stakeholders associated with the product development when writing your Product Requirements Document.
A list of key stakeholders may include the product designers, developers, managers, and the document owner. Moreover, you should also involve the higher-ups to make the PRD more detailed.
User personas and user stories
The user persona is one significant factor affecting the product's experience. Beyond that, it should also have the intention of helping the product reach its objectives outlined above.
You can take advantage of the technology by using different social media platforms, including Google Analytics and social media. Naturally, you can also use the audience data to have accurate factors that match the available information.
Moreover, creating a team of understandable and relatable personas is also vital, so it's best to back that with user stories. Just bear in mind that you should create user stories focusing on the specific product feature. These stories should address the issues written in the MRD.
Main components and Sitemaps
You should also include the crucial components found in the document. These may consist of the product features, implementation, flowchart, and so on.
Aside from that, an effective PRD covers sitemaps that include vital information regarding the tentative product release. This will help the product development team gather necessary resources and prioritize the product accordingly.
Initial and future features
Here you should list the initial features that your product will have after being rolled out. Since PRD must be constantly updated, you should also allocate enough space to include future or additional features. This will help the tech team add all your desired features to the final product.
Non-functional requirements are a vital part of the Product Requirements Document. They help bridge the gap between what the product is supposed to do and how it is supposed to behave. This will serve as guidelines for developers to follow when building the product to ensure it will continue to perform optimally over time.
If your product is complex, with many features and functions, it won't be easy to articulate its requirements with just written text. That's where wireframes come in.
Wireframes are a visual representation of your product's functions and user interface, including how each piece of the interface is supposed to look and behave. This will help developers craft the product according to your desired specifications.
Including the potential risks in the Product Requirements Document is essential to help developers estimate the impact of their proposed changes to the product.
By looking at the possible impact on the system, the developers can prioritize their changes and ensure that they are feasible within the context of the product as a whole. This helps make sure that the product continues to meet the needs of users and the business as a whole.
Future roadmap and iterations
Another element you should include in your PRD is the future roadmap and iterations. This will help the product designers and developers have a clear picture of the product itself and the end-users.
The iterations will also help the development team stay on track with their work.
Analytics in PRD is essential for communicating the value of your product to its target audience. In the analytics section, you can include how the products will be used and what features customers will enjoy about them.
This is highly beneficial, especially if your product is designed for business users.
Best PRD example: analysis
There are different PRD examples and formats that you can follow. Here, we will analyze the most common and highly recommended Product Requirements Document example: the one-page PRD.
If you look at the one-page PRD examples online, you will notice that they are more well-designed and concise than the other formats. A smaller PRD is ideal, especially if it's your company's first one.
A one-page PRD saves you time and effort since you only need to include the essential information regarding the product. In addition, you could quickly introduce changes to such a document.
A one-page Product Requirements Document may look simple, but you still need to give it due attention to achieve the best results. Overall, this PRD template is ideal for keeping the context short and straightforward.
The importance of having a well-written, clear, and concise Product Requirement Document in today's business world cannot be overstated. Such PRDs can help companies achieve their goals, reduce costs, and increase revenue and profit. Not to mention, they also help businesses avoid costly mistakes. So make sure to take it seriously and put some effort into writing your PRD. It will definitely be worth it.