5 Tips to Keep in Mind When Creating Your Product Requirements Document (PRD)

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A great product idea won’t go far unless you have a clear plan and process in place for how you’re going to bring that idea to life.

Developing a new product is no simple task—it requires a clear vision, collaboration across departments, budget allocation, time, and more.

A Product Requirements Document (PRD) is a critical component of the product development process that outlines the features, functionality, and goals of your product. A well-defined PRD can help ensure that everyone involved in the product development process is on the same page and that your product meets the needs of your target audience.

By following these five tips on how to build an effective PRD, you can ensure that your product meets the needs of your target audience, aligns with your product goals and company vision, and is well-positioned for success.

1. Keep it Lean & Concise

Product Requirements Documents shouldn’t be exhaustive, multi-page presentations. They should be simple, lean, and concise. The purpose of these documents is to help every stakeholder quickly understand your vision, your plan, and what you’re asking them to do to help make the product development process a success.

Most Product Requirements Documents include the following sections:

  • High-Level Summary/Introduction: This overview box typically includes a project title, owner, contributors, ETA, and project status.
  • Problem/Background: This section lays out the problem you’re trying to solve with the product you intend to build. It may also include background information that provides additional context on the intended users.
  • Solution/Vision: This section describes the solution you intend to offer through your new product. It should align with the problem you outlines in the previous section. You may also include more information in this section on how this product aligns with the strategic direction or vision of the company.
  • Assumptions: This section outlines any assumptions you or other stakeholders have that will be important to keep in mind and refer back to as you make your way through the product development process.
  • User Stories: This section features customer or user stories, interviews, or testimonials that are pertinent to the project you’re proposing. They give other team members additional context and can help you make a stronger case for the product.
  • Features: This section details the main features that you intend to include in your product. You may include links to sketches or mockups, or products that have similar features.
  • Milestones, Goals, Metrics: This section helps people understand how success will be measured while the product is being developed and after it has launched. This is where you would list specific, measurable, and time-bound goals, as well as key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to track progress.
  • Timeline: This section lays out the specific dates everyone should be aware of while working on the project. It may include specific milestones in addition to the actual estimated or proposed launch date.
  • Checklist & Launch Readiness: This section outlines the key tasks that will need to be completed in order for the product to be developed and launched in the market. It may also include details on the scope or budget.
  • Assigned Roles: This section lists the key stakeholders and collaborators involved in the project and outlines their primary responsibilities.
  • Impact: This section, typically left open when the document is first created, leaves space to record learnings, impact, and other success indicators once the project has been launched for users.

Outlining a PRD in this way can make it easier for people to quickly scan and understand the project.

2. Define the Problem and Solution

Every successful PRD starts with sections that describe the main problem you know exists for existing or prospective users, and what you’re going to do to help solve it.

When building your PRD, start by clearly defining the problem that your product aims to solve. Include information about your target audience, including their needs, pain points, and shared experiences. You may even decide to reference or link to customer stories and interviews that help make the problem more real for anyone reading through your document.

Then make your case for a solution to the problem. The solution section of your PRD should clearly and concisely outline exactly what your team plans to do to solve the problem you’ve identified in the previous section. You may include more information about timing or specific features within the product that help show readers how your product will address specific pain points they know users have already. Some teams choose to include specific information about vision in this section.

3. Describe Your Features

After you’ve laid out your problem and solution section, you’ll move on and get more specific about how your product will actually function for users. This is your opportunity to be as specific as possible about what exactly you are asking your team to help you build.

Some product managers choose to include feature sketches, mockups, or user flows in this section to help bring their proposed idea to life in the minds of anyone reading through the document.

Not all features are created equal, so in this section, it's important to prioritize them based on their importance to your product's success. Consider factors such as feasibility, impact on user experience, and alignment with your product's goals.

4. Set Clear Goals and Milestones

A really good idea doesn’t mean much unless you can show the amount of impact it will have on your users, your revenue, or your ability to compete in a marketplace.

When creating your PRD, make sure to include clear, measurable goals and metrics that everyone can reference before, during, and after you develop and launch your product. You should be clear about what you believe your product will accomplish for users once it’s up and running and in their hands. Will it boost app engagement? By how much? Will it increase user efficiency? By how much? Will it decrease the time it takes users to onboard? By how much? These are all questions you should consider addressing when coming up with key goals and metrics you want to measure.

You should also list key milestones that show you and other stakeholders how the project is progressing throughout the development process. Key milestones could relate to dates on the calendar, or they could relate to the completion of certain features along the way.

5.  Build a Launch Checklist & Assign Roles

One of the final sections you should include in your PRD is a launch checklist. The launch checklist will outline the primary tasks that need to be completed in order to launch the product. This checklist should include the names of people teams who will be responsible for completing each task. It may also include specific dates that help teams or people understand when tasks need to be completed.

The launch checklist typically brings in teams that are not as involved during the actual product development process. For example, you may have tasks for the marketing team relating to product promotion or communications. Or you may have tasks for the support that relate to user education and FAQs.

Recommended PRD Resources

Want more information about PRDs? These resources will give you deeper overviews and show you a few templates from other companies:

Build Your PRD with Crowdbotics

Need help building a Product Requirements Document and bringing your idea to life? Reach out to the Crowdbotics team and what you’re working on. You can launch 3X faster and cheaper with our data-driven app development platform.

Originally published:

April 18, 2023

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