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What is a Product Requirements Document (PRD)?

What is a Product Requirements Document (PRD)?

In this blog, we’re going to explore what PRDs are, why they’re so important, how they make product development smoother, and why they’re considered like a compass steering your project in the right direction.

Table of Contents

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What is a Product Requirements Document?

A product requirements document (PRD) is a document that outlines the detailed specifications and features of a product that is being developed. A PRD is a blueprint of the product. 

It serves as an important communication tool between various stakeholders, including product managers, designers, developers, and quality assurance teams, to ensure everyone is aligned on the product’s goals and functionality.

Here’s a short example of a product requirements document (PRD) for a mobile weather app:

Product Overview: A mobile weather app that provides real-time weather information to users based on their location

User Stories and Use Cases:

  • As a user, I want to see the current temperature and weather conditions at my location.
  • I want to view a 5-day weather forecast.
  • I want to receive weather alerts for severe weather conditions.

Functional Requirements:

  • Location-based weather data retrieval
  • User-friendly interface displaying current weather and a 5-day forecast
  • Push notifications for weather alerts

Non-Functional Requirements:

  • The app should load weather data within 5 seconds.
  • The app should be compatible with Android and iOS devices.

Dependencies:

  • Weather data is sourced from a third-party weather API.
  • Push notification services are integrated for alerts.

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Product Requirements Document Components

Product Requirements Document Components

Mentioned below are some of the key components of a product requirements document:

Title Page:

The title page serves as the cover of the document and contains basic information like the document’s title, the date it was created, and its version number. This information helps identify and track different versions of the document over time.

Example:

  • Product Requirements Document (title of the document)
  • Version 1.0 (document version)
  • Date: September 8, 2023 (the date when the document was created or last revised)

Table of Contents:

The table of contents is a list of sections and subsections within the PRD, along with their corresponding page numbers. It provides an easy way for readers to navigate the document and quickly find the information they need.

Example: 

1. Executive Summary……………..2

2. Product Overview…………………4

Executive Summary:

The executive summary is a concise overview of the entire PRD. It should highlight the most important aspects of the product, such as its purpose, key features, and target audience. This section is typically read by high-level stakeholders and executives who may not have the time to go through the entire document.

Example: 

The Doremon App is a mobile application designed to streamline task management for busy professionals. It offers features such as task creation, priority setting, and deadline tracking.

Product Overview:

The product overview provides a detailed description of the product. It outlines the purpose and goals of the product and explains the problem it aims to solve or the market needs it addresses. It also highlights the product’s unique value proposition and competitive advantages.

Example:  

The Doremon App aims to simplify task management for professionals by offering an intuitive and user-friendly interface that allows users to create, prioritize, and monitor tasks effortlessly.

Scope:

The scope section defines the boundaries of the project. It specifies what is included in the product (in-scope) and what is not included (out of scope). It’s important to list any assumptions or constraints that might impact the project’s scope, such as budget or time constraints.

Example: Task creation, task prioritization, deadline setting. Out of scope: Integration with external calendar applications.

User Stories or Use Cases:

User stories or use cases describe how different types of users will interact with the product. These narratives help to understand the user scenarios and workflow, which is crucial for designing and developing the product’s features.

Example: As a project manager, I want to create tasks with due dates and assign them to team members.

Functional Requirements:

Functional requirements outline the specific features and functionalities that the product must have. This section goes into detail about what the product should do and how it should behave. It includes information about user interactions and system processes.

Example: The application shall allow users to set task due dates with reminders.

Non-Functional Requirements:

Non-functional requirements specify aspects of the product that are not related to specific features but are essential for its overall performance and quality. This includes requirements related to performance, security, compliance with regulations, usability, and accessibility.

Example: The application shall have a response time of less than 2 seconds for task creation.

Technical Architecture:

The technical architecture section provides an overview of the system’s architecture, including its components, databases, and integration points with other systems. Diagrams or flowcharts may be used to visualize the architecture.

Example: The system will consist of a front-end mobile app built using React Native and a back-end server using Node.js and MongoDB for data storage.

Data Requirements:

This section details the data sources, storage, and how data will be used within the product. It may include information on data models, schemas, and data processing requirements.

Example: User data, including names and email addresses, will be stored in the ‘Users’ table in the database.

User Interface (UI) Design:

UI design includes mockups, wireframes, or design guidelines for the product’s user interface. It explains how users will interact with the product visually and provides guidance on the user experience and navigation.

Example: See Appendix A for wireframes illustrating the task creation screen.

Dependencies:

Dependencies are external systems, services, or components that the product relies on. Identifying these dependencies helps in planning and managing the development process effectively.

Example: The Doremon App will integrate with Google Calendar for syncing task due dates.

Risks and Assumptions:

In this section, potential risks that could impact the project are identified, and mitigation strategies are proposed. Assumptions made during the planning phase are also listed to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of them.

Example: 

Risk: Delay in third-party API integration 

Assumption: The development team will have access to the necessary API documentation.

Testing and Quality Assurance:

This section outlines the testing approach, including test cases, scenarios, and acceptance criteria. It also covers quality assurance processes and standards that will be applied to ensure the product meets its requirements.

Example: 

Testing: Test cases will be created to verify task creation, editing, and deletion. 

QA: A dedicated QA team will conduct regular quality assessments.

Timeline and Milestones:

The timeline and milestones section provides a project schedule with key milestones and deadlines. It also identifies dependencies between tasks, helping to plan and track progress.

Example: Alpha version released by October 15, 2023. Milestone: Beta testing completed by November 30, 2023.

Budget and Resource Requirements:

Here, the estimated budget required for development is detailed. This includes personnel costs, tools, equipment, and other resources needed to complete the project successfully.

Example: Three full-stack developers and one UI/UX designer Budget Estimate: $150,000 for development and testing

Approval and Sign-Off:

This section provides a space for stakeholders to review and formally approve the PRD. Sign-off indicates their agreement with the document’s contents and commitment to the project’s goals.

Example: Approved by: [Name] Date: [Date]

Appendices (if needed):

Appendices include supplementary information that supports the PRD, such as research findings, user personas, or additional diagrams. These can provide context and additional details to assist in the development process.

Example: Wireframes for Task Creation Screen

Change Log:

The change log records any changes made to the PRD, including dates, reasons for revisions, and who made the changes. This helps maintain transparency and accountability throughout the project.

Example: Version 1.0 – Added User Stories section on September 12, 2023.

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Steps to Create a Product Requirements Document

Confused about how to write a PRD? Here are the steps you need to follow to create a PRD:

Step 1: Understand the Problem

To create a successful new product, you must thoroughly understand the problem it addresses. Start by researching your customers and competitors, analyzing their needs and solutions. Consult with experts and evaluate your team’s capabilities and relevant technologies. This groundwork will equip you to confidently lead your product development team, fostering trust and readiness for the challenges ahead.

Step 2: Write the Purpose of Product

The purpose of our product is to address a specific need and align with our company’s overall goals and product strategy. We aim to provide a clear and concise value proposition that can be communicated in less than one minute. This proposition will guide our team in making decisions during the product’s design and development phases, ensuring that we prioritize features and functionalities that contribute to the product’s success.

Step 3: Define the Principles of the Product

Product principles are like guiding rules that steer our team during the development of a product. They help ensure that our product aligns with our objectives and user needs.

For a sunscreen product, our principles could include the following:

  • Effective Sun Protection: Our sunscreen should provide reliable protection against harmful UV rays to prevent sunburn and skin damage.
  • Skin-Friendly Ingredients: We prioritize using ingredients that are gentle on the skin, avoiding any potential irritants.
  • Broad-Spectrum Coverage: The sunscreen should shield against both UVA and UVB rays to offer comprehensive sun protection.
  • Water Resistance: It should be designed to stay effective even when users swim or sweat.
  • Ease of Application: We aim for a user-friendly design, making it easy to apply evenly on the skin.
  • Long-Lasting: Users should be able to rely on the product for extended sun exposure, reducing the need for frequent reapplication.

Step 4: Define Your Goals and Tasks

To create a successful product, start by defining your primary user’s profile, including demographics and habits. Then, identify their main goals, focusing on what they want to achieve, not just how. Finally, work with your team to design tasks that help users reach their goals efficiently, encouraging creativity and innovation in the process. The key is to simplify the user’s process.

Step 5: Create a Sample and Try Out Your Idea

To ensure a successful product development process, avoid overconfidence in your initial plans. Instead, use prototypes and modern tools for product testing. This involves three key steps: 1) feasibility testing, where you check if your idea is doable; 2) usability testing, involving user feedback to improve the product’s ease of use; and 3) product concept testing, ensuring people will want to buy your product. 

Keep updating your requirements based on feedback, as mistakes in requirements can be costly to fix later. This approach increases the chances of successful product development.

Step 6: Create Release Goals and a Timeline

Once you’ve identified your product requirements, it’s essential to prioritize them. Product managers often use labels like “must have,” “high want,” and “nice to have” to categorize these requirements. However, it’s equally important to rank them within these categories for two main reasons:

Firstly, to meet release deadlines, you may need to adjust your feature list if schedules change. Starting with the easiest requirements could lead to missing out on crucial ones.

Secondly, requirements can evolve during development, with new critical needs emerging. Without proper ranking, less important factors might determine the order of implementation, potentially affecting the product’s success.

Step 7: Draft Your PRD

Before you begin making your product, make sure your PRD is complete.

Include all stakeholders who have a vested interest in your product. They should assess whether your plan aligns with their requirements and concerns. Are the individuals responsible for producing the product well-versed in the problem at hand? Does the quality assurance team possess sufficient information to develop a testing strategy and formulate test cases?

Once you fix any problems that people find, you can start making your product using your plan.

Step 8: Manage the Development of Product

Manage product development by consulting the PRD for answers to issues. If not found, resolve problems and document decisions. The PRD evolves with the project, tracking features and requirements from development to launch. Accuracy simplifies milestone reviews and aligns the team’s goals.

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Product Requirements Document Templates

Are you curious to know how to write a product requirements document? Here is an example of PRD for your reference:

Pros and Cons of a Product Requirements Document

There are several benefits of a PRD. Some of the advantages of PRD are mentioned below:

  • Clarity and Direction: A well-written PRD provides a clear and detailed roadmap for the product development team, ensuring everyone understands the project’s goals and scope.
  • Alignment: It helps align all stakeholders, including developers, designers, product managers, and executives, on the product’s objectives, which reduces misunderstandings and conflicting expectations.
  • Documentation: It serves as a historical record of the project’s requirements, which can be referenced later for audits, compliance, or future updates.
  • Risk Mitigation: By identifying potential issues and risks early in the development process, a PRD can help teams proactively address and mitigate problems.
  • Prioritization: It enables the team to prioritize features and functionalities based on business goals, user needs, and technical constraints.
  • Communication: A PRD facilitates effective communication between cross-functional teams, ensuring that everyone is on the same page regarding what needs to be built.
  • Accountability: It establishes a clear set of expectations and responsibilities for team members, promoting accountability for delivering the specified features and functionality.
  • User-Centric: When done right, a PRD emphasizes user needs and ensures that the final product meets or exceeds customer expectations.

Let us look at some of the disadvantages of PRD:

  • Time Consuming: Creating a comprehensive PRD can be time-consuming, especially for complex projects. This can potentially slow down the development process.
  • Rigidity: A detailed PRD can be inflexible, making it challenging to adapt to changing market conditions or emerging opportunities.
  • Overemphasis on Documentation: Focusing too much on documentation can lead to analysis paralysis, where teams spend too much time planning and not enough time executing.
  • Misinterpretation: Despite efforts to make a PRD clear and detailed, there is still the risk of misinterpretation, leading to misunderstandings and mistakes in development.
  • Resistance to Change: Once a PRD is established, there may be resistance to making changes, even if new information or user feedback suggests adjustments are needed.
  • Costly Revisions: Making revisions to a PRD after development has begun can be costly and disruptive as it may require rework and additional resources.
  • May Stifle Creativity: A rigid PRD can stifle creativity and innovation within the development team, as it prescribes specific solutions rather than allowing for exploration of alternative approaches.
  • May Not Address All Needs: Despite efforts to capture all requirements, a PRD may not account for all user needs, leading to a product that falls short of expectations.

Conclusion

A carefully prepared product requirements document (PRD) is essential for a successful product development journey. It acts as a clear guide, ensuring that everyone involved in the project understands the product’s purpose, features, and goals. This shared understanding promotes effective communication and minimizes confusion. Additionally, the PRD helps identify and address potential issues and risks upfront, allowing teams to make well-informed decisions and use resources efficiently during the development process.

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About the Author

Senior Copy Editor

Aparna is a Senior Copy Editor, who combines a passion for precision with creative flair. With a background in law and market research, she has extensive experience in crafting compelling content, she excels in refining narratives to captivate audiences across diverse platforms.