Product requirements document

How to write an effective product requirements document?

In today’s experience-driven economy, successful businesses constantly innovate and release products that exceed the expectations of their customers. As a result, product managers are often tasked with identifying new opportunities and releasing products that serve an unmet customer need or take the existing product experience to the next level.

Product managers often use many tools and methodologies to achieve this goal. A product requirements document, or PRD, is one of the most used tools that enable product managers to build the case for a new product or feature while creating a shared understanding among business and technical teams. 

In this blog, you will understand what a PRD is, its outstanding benefits, and how to build it. 

What is a product requirements document (PRD)?

Product managers define a PRD in different ways. But in its most basic form, a PRD is a living document that a product manager creates as an authoritative reference source for all teams, including product, design, and development teams. A PRD can be very comprehensive and run into tens of pages or be crafted within one or two pages. And though it can include as many things as possible about the product that will be built by the product team, it is always a good idea to have only the essentials that can answer questions like why we are building this product in the first place.  What features will it have? Who will be on the team or responsible for bringing this product to the market? What’s the ideal release date? 

In a nutshell, a PRD defines the requirements of a product that is about to be built. The document outlines the product's purpose, features, functionalities, and behavior. It serves as a single source of truth for all the teams, especially those who will help build, launch and market the product. 

Sometimes, a PRD is confused with MRD or marketing requirements document. Although these two documents are related, they are not the same thing. While the PRD covers details about a new product that needs to be built, the MRD provides a larger picture of the business and incorporates details related to the target market, potential revenue generation, etc.

Essential components of a product requirements document

Teams that follow traditional development approaches tend to build artifacts like requirement documents. However, agile teams can also benefit from product requirements documents while staying focused on staying responsive and adaptive to customer feedback. Though PRDs can vary depending on the nature of the project, the size of the business, and the team, a standard product requirements document template contains the following: 

  • Project specifics: To get the best results, product managers must define or outline the critical requirements to define the project's success. For example, who’s on the team, designers, developers, and quality assurance associates? What features must the product have? What are the desired product’s release dates? What’s the current status of the project? 
  • Goals and objectives: What does the product team intend to achieve with the release? Also, how does the product supports the business objectives? 
  • Background and assumptions: The PRD should include some background information about why the team decided to build the product. In addition to the background, the product manager must also record all the technical, business, or customer assumptions. 
  • User flow and design: To help the design team visualize the end product, it is a good practice on the part of the product manager to include wireframes of pages and mockups of designs. The visuals do not need to be pixel-perfect, though. 
  • What is not on the priority: To streamline and accelerate the product development process, product managers must explicitly state what features or ideas will not be incorporated in the first development version or can be considered later. This saves the team from a lot of confusion and chaos.

Top benefits of creating product requirements documents 

The most successful and experienced product managers invest a lot of time and effort in preparing their PRDs as they significantly benefit from them. Some benefits of having a well-written PRD include the following-

  • A shared understanding between business and technical teams. 
  • Clearly defined product vision and goals. 
  • Defining the target market and user requirements.
  • Accelerating time-to-market and customer acceptance of the product. 
  • Mitigating the risk of scope creep.

If you’re working on a new product, take the time to create a PRD. It will save you time and money in the long run and increase the chances of success for your product.

How to develop a PRD?

Usually, a product manager writes a product requirements document or PRD. However, writing a PRD does not have to be a lonely job. Depending on the nature of the product that is about to be built and team size and culture, product managers can involve their team members to accelerate the process. Once the team finalizes the document, other stakeholders from across business functions can be invited to review it and add their feedback. Building a PRD can differ from organization to organization; however, a standard process typically contains the following steps:

1. Start with the basics

In this step, you will include details about the product you intend to build. What is the “elevator pitch” for this release?

  • Who is on the team? Who are the product managers, developers, and stakeholders?
  • When is the target release date?
  • What is the current status? On the track, at risk, blocked?

2. Background and assumptions 

  • What does the team need to know to do their job successfully?
  • What informed this release? Was it a market trend? Do you have customer interviews to share?
  • Who are your target personas? What use cases have you identified?
  • Is there high-level information about future roadmap plans worth sharing?
  • In addition, you would also like to include the hypotheses you have made. And how do these assumptions affect product development?

3. Provide requirements

  • What problems are you trying to solve? What functionality must be included?
  • What features or user stories will be shipped in this release? What is the priority level of those?

4. Incorporate the design

  • What will the product look and feel like? How will the user interact with the features in this release?
  • Do you have wireframes or mockups to share? Can you provide links to existing design explorations that will inspire the team?

5. Define success metrics 

  • What metrics and KPIs will you track?
  • How will you determine the value of what you deliver?

6. Consider the impact

  • Are there known dependencies?
  • What other areas of the product will this release affect?
  • What level of ongoing maintenance will be needed? Support?
  • Are other teams needed?

How Kellton helps businesses strategize and accelerate product development initiatives

Product requirements documents are critical to team collaboration and the success of products. Businesses across industries invest tons of research and resources into conceptualizing and creating products they hope their customers will like and buy. Kellton enables startups to Fortune 500 companies across their product development lifecycles with our end-to-end product development services and solutions. Contact our experts to explore how we can help you build your next dream product.