10 Steps to Writing a Product Requirements Document (PRD)


Producing a new product is every company’s goal. The production stage aside, this important process should be accompanied by a tremendously fundamental document, the Product Requirements Document (PRD).

PRD refers to the document in which all the requirements or goals of a certain product are recorded. It serves as the description of the product that is going to be built in terms of purpose, design, features, functionality, and behavior. The purpose of PRD is to be the guidelines for the development process. The PRD should comprise all the substantial information about the product to ensure the accuracy and preciseness of the product built with the objectives intended during the planning. The content in the PRD is commonly in a sequential manner from the developing process until the marketing stage of the specific product, illustrating all the important information needed in building the product.

In some cases, although the PRD is perfectly written, it does not guarantee the success of the product, but failure in producing a good PRD may hinder the success of the product. Hence, the preparation of PRD should be done well to secure the success of the production of the product as well as the overall success of the development.

In preparing PRD, several steps should be paid attention to. This article will explain on ten steps to write an effective PRD as the guidance.

1. Establishing Agile Requirements

When a product owner intends to build a new product, how do they align the requirements of the new product? One of the best ways is by resorting to agile requirements, which is by listing out the shared understanding between different parties, from the owner, the development team, and even the customers. Doing this allows the product owner to pay attention to the requirement, coming out with the best emphasis on the final product. The execution process will be left to the expert in the process, the development team. This, again, emphasis the shared understanding among different parties involved in the product.

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One of the tips in implementing agile requirements is by involving customers when surveying for their preferred features that should be included in the product. Other than that is by asking for insights from different team members. When making changes to the requirements, it is crucial to inform all the members involved so that everyone is kept up to date with the latest information on the product. This could assure that everyone could provide their best effort in prioritizing the best quality of the product. This is one of the recommended steps to be taken before you start writing PRD.

2. Mention the Specifics Information

When starting a PRD, it is suggested to begin with the specifics of the intended product. One of the most important information to be included is the list of participants involved in the production of the product. The participants refer to the person involved such as the product owner, the team in charge of the development, the stakeholders, and so forth. The other information is the status of the product. Clearly define the status of the project, either it is ongoing, delayed, deferred, etc. The final information that should be informed evidently is the target release. It is recommended to highlight when the product is expected to be released.

3. Provide the Purpose

One of the important aspects of a product is the purpose of it and who the target users are. Everyone involved in the development of the products needs to be well informed of the purpose of the product that is going to be built. The development team and stakeholders of the product need to have agreement on the purposes intended for the product and ensure that the final product can function well according to the purposes mentioned.

The purposes of the product refer to how the product could help in solving problems as well as the target user. Aside from those, the PRD should clearly mention why the product is important.

In writing the purposes and objectives of the product, it is recommended to be brief and concise. Lengthy objectives may bore the audience and have the risk of the message not fully conveyed which may result in failure to produce a perfect product as planned.



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4. List and Describe the Feature

After the purposes of the product has been established, it is time to start defining the features of the product. In determining features, each part of the product should be able to contribute towards the purposes of the product.

In coming up with product planning, designing the features is important as the references for the team involved. It will provide the image of how your product would look like aside from defining the specific characteristics intended for the new product.

In the PRD, it is essential to define the features that are going to be presented in the product release. This section is mostly referred by the development team hence it is crucial to include as much significant information as guidance. The execution of the product could be written minimally since the implemented stage could be passed to the expert of the process, which is the development team. They would be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills on how to build the product as illustrated in the PRD.

Several points may be included in the feature section. For instance, the name of feature and description, purpose, acceptance criteria, assumptions, value, and problem. Another important point that should be included is the detail on what the feature is not capable of doing, anything that is beyond the scope intended. This is important so people would not expect non-existing features or functions in the product, which may lead to unsatisfactory feelings for some people.

5. Provide the Release Information of the Product

Several criteria need to be accordingly considered when planning for the product release. The goals of the product release should be comprehensible, achievable, and measurable. Aside from those, some other aspects that need to be paid attention to are functionality, usability, reliability, performance, and supportability.

In producing a product, it is important to ensure that the product is easy to be used and has the necessary functions. That aside, it is crucial that the product can be recovered whenever faced with system failure. The PRD should also mention on the expected performance of the product. The last aspect, supportability, refers to the guarantee that the product’s release could be supported for instance in terms of configuration and installation.

6. Define the Flow and Design

It is recommended to include the visual mockups in your PRD to present the image of the product along with its features. Doing this allows the product owner or development to visualize the final product from the perspective of the users. They may see the bigger picture and notice where the features are lacking hence allowing further improvisation to be done. You may present the design in a more comprehensible and visual-like presentation instead of mere written information.

Providing the mockup may also ease the task of the development team. They would be able to develop as precisely as how the product owner wanted. This may avoid unneeded misunderstandings that may disrupt the process and performances shown by the team.

7. Providing Analytics

Aside from the product-related information, you may also consider including the hypothesis in your PRD. The hypothesis comprises the metric of success or performance that is expected to be achieved from the features included or the product as overall. This metric analytic included in the PRD serves as the guidance in the performance after the product has been released or could even be used to evaluate the demo product.

The analytics could be sorted down by specifying the overall expected performance and metrics for specific features. It is suggested to utilize tracker to monitor the performance in terms of engagements. This may allow the product owner or development team to identify which aspects to be improved on to provide the best experience for the users. The indicator could be in terms of percentage of engagement, how long it takes to adapt to the features, the frequency usage of features, and so forth depending on the nature of the product.

8. Determine the Timeline

Every product that is built should be set with a specific release, either a rough estimate or a real date.

This could help people involved to keep track of how smooth their pace in working on the product. Setting an appropriate timeline could also allow team members to be flexible in managing the time and allowing further adaptation to be done in meeting the goals of the project.

The process of building the product as well as ensuring the target release is met is undoubtedly arduous. Hence, to achieve the target date of the product release, the PRD should clearly state the appropriate timeline in terms of the thorough processes of the product from the beginning until the release stage. The timeframe should be achievable, realistic, and not too ambitious. Providing a well-planned timeline allow team members to work on the product without unnecessary pressure that may impede the quality of the final product.

9. Editing the Overall Document

This stage may be irrelevant and trivial to some. However, in producing a good PRD, it is advisable to keep it concise yet meaningful. Lengthy and too much unnecessary information may bore the audience hence they may not read the document thoroughly. This may without doubt hinder the full understanding of the intended features or functions of the product.

Editing should be done after the PRD has been done. The editor should proofread and edit the document necessarily to ensure that the final written document is presentable to stakeholders involved in the product. Make sure significant and important information are added and presented evidently.

10. Reviewing by Stakeholders

After the PRD has been completed, it is important to let every stakeholder review the document. This is to ensure a shared understanding of the information about products as well as the content of PRD. Reviewing allows the stakeholder to articulate their opinions on the product as well as clearing any confusion or questions related to the product. This may prevent any future problems arisen from a lack of understanding of the product that is going to be built.

Sometimes, constant changes in the document are inevitable, hence it is recommended to provide access on the document in a cloud-based platform. By doing this, it ensures that the person involves is referring to the latest and most updated version of the document, not the one prior to changes.

For these reasons, it is fundamental to allow the reviewing process to further enhance the quality of the document and also the product as a whole.

Conclusion

To conclude, every company that intends to build or sell a new product is required to firstly produce a well-written PRD to ensure the accuracy of the product as planned. Many people are involved in handling the products from the building stage until the marketing takes place. It is almost impossible to relay a precise message or expectation of the product to all these people verbally. Hence, this PRD will serve as the document circulating the people involved in seeing what are the intended objectives, functions, design, and profitability of the said product. It will ensure the mutual understanding among the teams responsible for the development of the product. Failure in writing a good PRD may inhibit the success of the product in a lot of aspects.

This article has provided a few steps that could be referred to in coming up with a good PRD. This article aside, tons of references and templates may be helpful to your company in coming up with a flawless document to ensure the success of your products.

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