PRD (Product Requirements Document) Simplified: A Guide for Product Managers
If you are a Product Manager, chances are that you would be asked to write the PRDs (Product Requirement Documents) for sure. You would be spending a good amount of time thrashing the PRDs out and conceiving all the stakeholders in such a way that it hits perfection.
And if you are an aspiring Product Manager, then knowing how to craft a perfect PRD is something you should definitely have in your repertoire. In this blog, I will try to cover all the following points in detail:
- What is a PRD and why is it important?
- Ideal Template of a tech PRD
- How to write an effective PRD
- Pitfalls / Bad PRD
What is a PRD and why is it important?
- A product requirements document describes the product you or your company is building and drives the effort from the product team to engineering to sales and marketing.
- The PRD clearly and unambiguously articulates the product’s purpose, features, functionality, and behavior. This specification is needed by the teams to build, test, and operationalize the full and successful product.
- If a PRD is not done well, it is nearly impossible for a good product to result.
- It is the single most important written product communication that brings together all the teams and stays even after the original team has left and is the beginning of the conversion from conception to reality.
Ideal PRD Template
1. Define the product purpose/ Objective
- What is the problem / opportunity you or your organization is trying to solve?
- Who is the product for? (Product customers, user flows, and the value proposition for them)
- Why it’s important including how it fits into your overall product/organizational strategy (impact of solving the problem, the necessity of solving it now, additional link to documents to the business case, market requirements can be added)
Eg:- Simplifying user sign-in experience is important because it affects users coming back and using the product (xx% drop off). Users are non-tech savvy, etc.
2. Competitive Analysis (optional)
Competitive analysis helps in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of companies offering products similar to yours. Doing this type of analysis gives you a strong understanding of how your product is different from others in the market. And it can help you confirm the unique value that you provide, so that you can alter your USP (Unique Selling Point) accordingly. It is a key step in the strategic planning process. You need to know where you fit in and what opportunities exist before you can set goals and prioritize what to build next.
3. Success metrics that define your product success
Product metrics or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), are quantifiable data points that an organization tracks and analyzes to gauge a product’s success. It can be anything including conversion rate, churn rate, or monthly recurring revenue.
Eg: Customer satisfaction score increases or User sign-in page drop off decreases
4. List assumptions about users, technical constraints, business goals
5. Options Considered
In this section you will be taking all the potential options in account which can affect the product in any way.
Eg:- Single sign-in like Google Use case: User clicks on the sign-in button and using his Google login enters may not be feasible due to cost and in that case we will need to redesign our own sign-in page .
6. Features of the product
- In this section detail the solution explaining the core capabilities (eg:- Single click option visible at top of the page with help right next to it)
- Use Cases of the product
- Wireframes/ Designs
- Data/ Information/ Metrics that needs to be recorded (eg:- time the user spends on the sign-in page, number of users who drop off from the sign-in page)
7. Milestones (if multi-phase product)
8. Release Criteria
- Key input and output metrics
- Reliability and performance metrics (eg:- sign-in should fail only 99.99% . It should take less than 1ms to proceed to the next page)
- Scalability (eg:- should support 1MN simultaneous sign-ins)
- UAT criteria (Test Plan and acceptance parameters) (eg:- Users should be able to find the sign-in option and enter the signed page in less than 3 secs on avg.)
9. Launch/ Rollout Plan
Include specific capabilities needed to adhere to your launch plan.
eg:- the ability to launch to 5% of users and then expand to all users later on.
How to write an effective PRD
- Do your homework — ensure you do the proper pre-work of understanding your customers, their use cases, the problem space, competition, and the constraints.
- Define your product principles — this will help when tradeoffs need to be made.
- Prototype and test the product concept including usability testing. This will allow you to finetune your requirements.
- After the above steps put down into written format according to the template.
- Iterate through discussions with stakeholders before finalizing.
PRD is not written in a single sitting.
PRD tell what needs to be done, not how it needs to be done.
- Ensure PRD is fully detailed and not an exercise out of compulsion.
- Avoid freezing it without stakeholder review.
- Ensure proper usability testing is done and documented in PRD before building the product.
- Strike a balance and ensure requirements are neither too engineering-driven nor customer-driven (marketing/ category).
- Ensure the objective is very clear.