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Product Requirements Document

By Fleur Sykes

Updated: May 24th, 2023

Reviewed by: Megan Saker

Fact checked by: Janna Bastow

What is a Product Requirements Document (PRD)?

A product requirements document (PRD) is usually written by a product manager and explains the purpose, requirements, specifications, and release of a product or feature you want to build. The document will serve as a guide for your team and stakeholders who will help to build, launch and market the product. It can also be used to help inform supporting documentation.

The PRD serves as a blueprint for the product development process and helps ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page regarding the product’s features and requirements. The PRD also helps to ensure that the product meets customer needs and expectations. 

A well-crafted PRD should include a detailed description of the product, its purpose, target audience, key features, user interface design, technical specifications, and other relevant information. Additionally, it can include a timeline for development and launch and any potential risks or challenges associated with the product. 

A PRD is an artifact of waterfall methodology and is becoming less and less popular with product managers, especially those who work with agile frameworks.

What should be included in a product requirements document?

What you will need to include in a PRD varies from business to business, and depends on a variety of factors, such as your industry vertical, and the product and development processes in your company.

You should expect to see a detailed description of the product, its purpose, target audience, key features, user interface design, technical specifications, and other relevant information. Potentially even a timeline for development and launch and any potential risks or challenges associated with the product, though at ProdPad we prefer to work to timeline horizons (i.e. the Now-Next-Later roadmap) rather than specific dates.

It should also include a list of stakeholders involved in the project and their roles and responsibilities. Finally, it should include an acceptance criteria section that outlines the requirements that must be met for the product to be considered successful.

What is a Product Requirements Document (PRD)

How do you write and manage a good product requirements document?

There are a lot of steps to creating a PRD, and it needs input from a lot of different teams for it to be a useful document. While not every step is relevant for every project, more complex products will likely require more detailed PRDs.

To help you with the process, we have created a handy product requirements document template that you can use to get the ball rolling. There are many questions that you’ll need to ask yourself and your key stakeholders to fill it out, though once you do it should help ensure everyone, from the product manager to the development and engineering teams, and everyone else involved in the project, is operating from a single source of truth.

Some of the key considerations from our PRD template are shown below. As you will see, there are many points to cover if you want to have a fully-realized product requirements document. However, it’s worth remembering that this is a static document.

Product strategy

When establishing your product strategy, you need to determine what place the product will have in your overall business strategy, and who it will serve.

Among other questions, you’ll need to consider:

  • Which overall product objective does this project contribute to?
  • Which product goal, key result, or target should this project help achieve?
  • Which section of your roadmap does this relate to?
  • Which buyer or user persona is the project designed to help?
  • What customer feedback has been provided to support the project?

Overview

Next, you’ll need to establish a top-down picture of your product, and what the overall product goal is.

Considerations:

  • What is the approach you’re taking to solve a problem with this project?
  • What is the problem (or opportunity) you’re trying to solve?
  • What is the value that will be provided if the problem was solved?

Success criteria

You’ll want to outline the criteria that must be met for the product to be considered successful. This will help ensure that the product meets customer needs and expectations.

what you’ll need to consider:

  • What does success look like?
  • What metrics will you be using to measure success for this project?
  • What were the actual outcomes of this project?

Functional requirements

This is where you determine the core functionality, user flow, and suggested user stories, to help build a picture of exactly how everything will work, come the product launch.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How should the new feature/functionality work?
  • What are the rules and are there any examples of how the end results will work?
  • What are the user stories and use scenarios for the product?
  • Do you have design prototypes, e.g. wireframes and mockups?
  • How will you judge whether the user story has been achieved?

Release technical considerations

Establishing the predicted conditions in which your product will exist is a vital part of plotting out your PRD. You need to know what your users will need to use your product properly, as well as what your teams’ limitations are.

What you will need to consider:

  • What does the end-user environment need to look like for the project to work?
  • Will there be any specific system requirements for using your product?
  • Are there any limitations to this project?
  • Are there any issues that will need to be addressed as the team works on the feature or product?

Release planning

Finally, the last stage of the development cycle and the end-point of your product needs to be given some thought.

Things to include:

  • What is your expected release date, based on your key milestones and timing schedules?
  • What dependencies or assumptions are required for the product release to be successful?
  • What are the key milestones that you need to hit before release?
Free PRD Template

An example step-by-step guide to creating and managing a PRD

Below we’ll show you a suggested flow for creating and managing your product requirements document. This isn’t the only approach you can take to the process, but it should give you a decent idea of how to write a PRD, and how to manage it once the product development teams have got to work.

1. Identify the product’s purpose and target audience

A good place to start in creating a PRD is to identify the product’s purpose and target audience. This will help you determine what features and functions are necessary for the product to meet its goals.

2. Outline key product features

Once you have identified the product’s purpose and target audience, you can begin outlining the key features that will be included in the product. Be sure to include any user interface design elements and technical specifications that are necessary for the product to function properly.

3. Create a timeline

Establishing a timeline for development and launch is an important part of creating a PRD. This will help ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page regarding when the product should be ready for launch. This timeline should include milestones and deadlines for each step of the development process.

4. Identify risks and challenges

It is a good idea to identify any potential risks or challenges associated with the product before beginning development. This will help ensure that all stakeholders are aware of any potential issues that could arise during the development process.

5. List stakeholders

It is important to list all stakeholders involved in the project and their roles and responsibilities. This will help ensure that everyone is aware of their individual tasks and responsibilities throughout the development process.

6. Outline acceptance criteria

The final step in creating a PRD is to outline the criteria that must be met for the product to be considered successful. This will help ensure that the product meets customer needs and expectations.

7. Review and revise

Once the PRD has been created, it should be reviewed by all stakeholders to ensure accuracy and completeness. Any necessary revisions should be made before the product begins development.

9. Define success metrics

It is important to define success metrics for the product in order to measure its performance after launch. These metrics should be based on customer needs and expectations, as well as the product’s goals and objectives.

10. Monitor progress

Once the product has been launched, it is important to monitor its progress and make adjustments as needed. This can be done by tracking customer feedback, usage data, and other metrics to ensure that the product is meeting its goals and objectives.

11. Establish feedback loops

It is important to establish feedback loops with customers and other stakeholders in order to continuously improve the product. This can be done by collecting customer feedback, conducting usability tests, and analyzing usage data.

12. Update PRD

As the product evolves, it is important to update the PRD accordingly. This ensures that all stakeholders are aware of any changes or updates to the product and that the product is meeting customer needs.

13. Review and revise

After the product has been launched, it is important to review and revise the PRD as needed. This can include making changes to features, functions, or specifications based on customer feedback or usage data.

14. Document lessons learned

It is important to document any lessons learned throughout the development process in order to inform future projects and improve processes. This can include documenting any issues encountered, customer feedback, and changes made to the product.

What are the pros and cons of creating a product requirements document?

As mentioned above, PRDs are artifacts of the waterfall methodology, a linear and increasingly outmoded approach to product management compared to agile development. Like the methodology that it originated from, a PRD is static and inflexible, which can hold teams back in the fast-paced and rapidly evolving world product developers have to contend with.

At ProdPad, we prefer to provide all of the aspects of a PRD in our Ideas section, while helping you to create a living document that can move with the changing reality of the development process, user feedback, and market demands.

Pros:

  • A PRD helps to ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page regarding the product’s purpose, target audience, key features, timeline, and acceptance criteria.
  • It helps to identify potential risks and challenges before development begins.
  • It provides a clear roadmap for the development and launch of the product.
  • It ensures that the product meets customer needs and expectations.
  • It can serve as a reference point for future updates and iterations.

Cons:

  • It can be too rigid and limit creativity and flexibility in the development process.
  • Creating a PRD can be time-consuming and require a significant amount of effort from all stakeholders.
  • It can be difficult to keep the document up-to-date as the project progresses.
  • It may not capture all of the necessary details for the product, resulting in an incomplete or inaccurate product.
  • May not account for unexpected challenges or opportunities that arise during development.
  • They can slow a team down, it might be more valuable to start small and build an MVP, learn from its usage, and iterate from there.

One core problem with product requirement documents is that they can be too prescriptive, and restrict the ability of a product team to understand a problem and iterate to a good solution fully. A PRD is a static document, that doesn’t evolve to reflect the changing day-to-day state of your product’s development.

Working to a level of detail that’s too deep can result in a very well spec’d out feature that just doesn’t solve the problem it’s meant to solve. Rather than focusing on defining a solution, it can often be more valuable to start small by building an MVP, learning from its usage, and then iterating from there.

Pros and Cons of a Product Requirements Document (PRD)

What’s the difference between a PRD and an MVP?

The main difference between a PRD and an MVP is that a PRD is used to plan out the product before development begins, while an MVP is used to test the market and gain feedback from users.

A product requirements document (PRD) is a detailed document that outlines the features, functions, and specifications of a product. It is typically created by the product team before development begins and serves as a roadmap for the project. It is not a functional product.

An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is usually a version of the product with only the most essential features. It is generally released to customers to test and provide feedback before further development begins. The goal of an MVP is to quickly and cheaply test the market and gain feedback from target users before investing more time and resources into the product. 

A PRD typically contains more detailed information about the product, such as its features, functions, and specifications, but doesn’t demonstrate the product in action. An MVP usually only contains the most essential features of the product and is released to customers to test and provide feedback on, and is often in some way a working representation of the final product.

What’s the difference between a PRD and a BRD?

A product requirements document (PRD) and a business requirements document (BRD) are both important pieces of documentation in the product development process. The main difference between the two is their focus.

A PRD outlines the specific features and functionality that a product must have to meet customer needs and expectations, while a BRD outlines the high-level business objectives and goals that a product must achieve to support the overall business strategy.

Essentially, a PRD is more focused on the product itself, while a BRD is more focused on the business as a whole. Both documents are crucial in ensuring that a product meets the needs of both customers and the business, though a PRD is usually created after the completion of the BRD, as the product needs to fit into the overarching business plan.