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To create a successful product, it’s essential to follow all the necessary steps from the very beginning. To make sure that no time will be wasted on misunderstandings, you might want to write a product requirements document. There are many examples online; however, it can be too easy to get lost in different options. In this article, we will go through all the aspects of creating a PRD so that you’ll ✓learn what should be included, ✓review what specifications exist, and ✓be perfectly able to create your own PRD template.

What is a Product Requirements Document and why is it important?

This document is an initial one, the starting point in the process of developing your new product. Basically, it describes all the features, specifications, and functionality of a product, and also declares the conditions and stages for design and development. Writing a good PRD is similar to the place where the marathon of creation begins. The better you explain the rules before the race starts, the better the chance that everything goes smoothly and correctly.

In PRD, you gather all the essential details needed for the process of development. You also mention goals and objectives, as well as expected results of each stage of work, time required for the development of MVP, and any additional technical details that might be of help when the actual work begins. Remember that this is not a list of dream descriptions, but a technical document based on research and extensive analysis with a main goal to minimize the risk of misunderstandings, and necessity of implementing changes due to those misunderstandings.

Pros, cons and alternatives

Detailed and effective Product Requirement Documents takes time to create. Sometimes, it also takes money, as technical specifications might require additional expertise from the outside.

Let’s look at the pros of PRD, first:

  • Helps you get a complete picture of a future product.
  • Provides an approximate budget for all the stages of development.
  • Gives ideas about the required time it takes before you get it done.
  • Establishes a mutual understanding between all team members.
  • Eliminates (at least, partially) potential problems during development.

On the other hand, there are a couple of disadvantages:

  • Spending additional time on document writing, instead of starting the development process right away.
  • May require significant investment, as technical specifications must be accurate and designed with enough knowledge and expertise on the matter.

To eliminate these disadvantages, there is an alternative – agile development done in sprints (called iterations). This is based on a number of principles and allows you to start the process almost at the moment the idea appears in your head. In this case, you will have to participate in the development and control the process. Your project will be split into smaller tasks and be completed during these iterations, which usually take about two weeks.

In this case, you will:

  • Save precious time and money on creating PRD.
  • Be able to change the product on the go.
  • Identify the potential problems at early stages.
  • Have more control over the process.

Of course, there are also some cons that you might want to consider:

  • Unclear timeframes.
  • Unclear cost of development.
  • No clear picture of what you end up receiving in the end.

Based on the information above, if you know what you want and have a clear idea of how much time and money you want to spend on it, creating a product requirements specification in advance might still be a more suitable option.

Tips on how to actually write a Product Requirements Document

First of all, let’s remember the goal of the document – to communicate the concept of the product under development and arrange all the details that are useful for the development process. Long story short, all the technical specifications included in the document ensure that the future product will be compliant with all requirements. To make your PRD really helpful for your development team, use these tips:

  • All the functions mentioned should be as detailed as possible; goals should be mentioned for the best implementation.
  • Even technical details should be written in simple language that is easy to understand for any business person.
  • The tasks described in the document should include deadlines.
  • All the requirements should be specific without the use of general phrases like “use the best possible option”.
  • Keep it detailed but don’t overdo it.

In the next section of this article, you will see a sample outline for a Product Requirements Document.

What components should be included in your Product Requirements Document template?

Now we are going to go through the components of a well-developed Product Requirement Document that can be used as a template. Once you understand the idea behind each section, you will have no problem looking at it from an experienced product management specialist’s point of view while creating your own docs. Here are the essential components, which may still be somewhat flexible in sequence, depending on what business you have or other factors:

  1. Goals and objectives.
  2. Target users and their needs.
  3. Main components and sitemap.
  4. Initial and future features.
  5. Non-functional but also important requirements.
  6. Wireframes.
  7. Potential risks.
  8. Analytics.

Goals and objectives

This section provides a general idea of the future product and explains why it should be developed in the first place. It helps to set the team on the right track from the very beginning of the project.

Here, you’ll answer general questions such as:

  • Why should this product be created?
  • What problems will it solve for real people?
  • What features will fulfill each problem-solving task?
  • Who will benefit from the product?
  • What are your mission and vision?

These are just samples of questions. Depending on your ideas, you can exclude some or add more. Basically, this section of a PRD is a high-level description of everything concerning the future project.

Target users and their needs

Before going into more detail about the product, you need to establish and describe your target audience. It might be hypothetical, but detailed enough so that the reader can imagine the user. The most simple and pleasant way is to start with these characteristics: age of potential clients, their genders, possible occupations, levels of education, and geographical locations.

To create a valuable product right from the start, you need to answer the who-what-when-how questions regarding your customers. The main idea here might be shaped as the ability to see the future product through the eyes of those who might use it.

Also, mention the needs that are to be met with the product. For example:

Need/problem: The user needs the opportunity to pay for the item with bitcoins.

Solution: The user can launch an app, tie it to the wallet, and pay directly.