March 6, 2020Prd
Stop Worrying About How To Create A PRD; Read This Instead
If you’re versed in project documentation and know a thing or two about PRDs, it’s time to sit down and knock the document out.
However, you shouldn’t rush it.
Even if you’re under time pressure, it’s better to push the deadline than just writing what you can.
A good PRD has benefits, yeah.
But clarity and incentive for teamwork will only come if you write the product requirements document the right way.
So let’s delve into this and find out how to create a PRD.
The Basics of a Product Requirements Document
PRDs changed a lot over time.
There’s this cool, in-depth pdf online about writing a product requirements document. It’s made by the Silicon Valley Product Group and it aged well. If you go through it now, 15 years later, you can still get good tips on what a PRD should include.
That’s because product development, in principle, hasn’t changed much.
But the development world has.
And you need to be equipped for the new software development methodologies, and the realities of doing business in the tech world of 2020.
So here’s what a PRD should do:
- Define your product and how it helps your target audience
- Explain why the development of the product is in line with your company’s goals and vision
- Inform key decision-makers about upcoming developments with your products
- Inform employees about what they have to do next
Back in the day, this was done with long, deep documents, filled with broken-down features and complex tables.
It doesn’t work like that anymore.
To be helpful in the agile development world, PRDs gained one more characteristic:
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have anything set in stone.
So let’s talk about structure.
Your Ideal PRD Structure
A PRD generally covers objectives, features and user experience.
If you have one page for each, that should be enough.
Again, if it helps you: do it whichever way you want.
But you do want to make sure you don’t forget about something.
So we have a structure of important things to cover:
- Scope. This should cover the main goals, objectives, and reasoning behind your product.
- MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Whatever you want to launch, you need to validate your idea as fast as possible. An MVP should be outlined in the PRD because otherwise, it’ll take long before your team can see a result from their efforts.
- Features and Functionalities. This is a tough one. Make sure you outline all the desired features of your product but do try to assign priority levels, especially for agile development.
- User Experience. Detail use cases, user flow, and the basics of your user interface.
- KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Any type of work is more valuable when you measure it. Make sure you track performance both for your team and for your product after launch.
Other tech blogs will suggest different structures.
For example, aha.io has a modular approach in their PRD guide and their templates.
But the basics are the same.
If everything’s clear so far, you could just start writing.
Just remember it’s all about enhancing product development, not just following a template.
If things are still iffy, let’s delve into each subsection of a good PRD.
Here’s our extensive guide on creating a product requirements document.
The Ultimate Guide on How To Create A PRD
Before you sit down and start writing, remember this:
A good PRD covers what your end-user needs.
And why they need it.
Not what you’d like to see in a product.
And that’s the first thing you’ll need to create a good PRD: the right mindset.
If you scribble down a new feature idea, always filter it like this:
“How does this help my end-user?”
But it’s not just about features.
Having the right mindset is important for all aspects of writing good documentation.
If you want to set a tight schedule, with optimistic KPIs, ask yourself:
“Will delivering the MVP one month from now help my target audience?”
Having the right mindset is important for any type of documentation, including PRDs, so don’t rush it.
Always try to stop, take some time, and filter everything from a user’s point of view.
It’s enough for one mock-up to give the wrong direction.
And your product will fail to compete with others that have a better user interface.
Besides that, there’s one more thing to remember.
Your product requirements document should be comprehensive, understandable and adaptable.
If your desired features and user experience are passed along to your team in that manner…
It doesn’t really matter how you structure it.
Or how you write it.
It’s all about those criteria.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about formatting.
Clarity can only be achieved if you have some sense of your thoughts.
So here’s how we structure and create product requirements documents.
The scope is an overview of your product.
Make sure you outline:
- The main goal of your product.
- Your product’s objectives
- The reasoning behind developing this product
Again, this should all be filtered through your buyer persona.
Anyone can come up with product ideas.
But here’s where a PRD shines: you can use it to show why you’re actually helping people.
This means purpose.
For your team, your investors, partners, it doesn’t matter who you want to incentivize.
The right objectives create a motivated team.
So make sure you spend some time detailing the bottom line of your product.
You can treat this section as an “overview of the overview” because you’re breaking down, shortly, every section of the PRD.
The MVP is harder to determine from the get-go.
Especially if you want to develop each feature in turn, and adapt to changes constantly.
But it should still detail a basic version of your product which will be used to validate your idea.
For example, if your product will connect homeowners with people that want to rent and incentivize socializing before signing a contract (I’ve actually heard this app idea from multiple people in the past few months), your final product needs a lot.
It needs a chatting area, which definitely needs a way to share pictures, gifs and the suite of modern internet communication.
It also needs a way to filter homes to rent.
Probably even a payment integration if you want to get a cut for incentivizing communication between the parties.
The list can go on.
The ideal MVP will only feature the basics: a classifieds listing system and a text chatting system.
If focus groups like and use that, you can keep going.
But it’s important to differentiate between the final product and an MVP.
This is why you should consider creating a PRD, even if you’re doing agile development.
3. Features and Functionalities
This is where you’ll detail every feature of your ideal product.
Again, this may differ depending on your software development methodology.
If you’re doing agile, this section can even be a big feature broken down, with a lot of room for further features as you implement everything.
But here’s where it can go wrong.
You’ll want to detail potential features, but you shouldn’t go too in-depth.
When you’re explaining functionalities, it’s easy to get carried away.
I know you love your product idea.
And you want to make it the best out there.
But you’ll need to resist the urge to get into specifics. Remember, that’s something you settle on with your team.
Otherwise, creating a PRD is self-defeating.
4. User Experience
There are a few things you should cover here:
- Use cases
- User flow
- User interface
- Basic design choices
Now since we’re talking about user interface, it’s important you also get visual here.
Make sure you use some mock-ups, at least to define the basic interface.
If you don’t want to use something like balsamiq, even a Google Drawing will suffice.
Just give it a visual touch.
5. Key Performance Indicators
Key Performance Indicators help you track progress.
We know your team’s the best in the world.
We know you trust them.
But measuring performance is not about micromanaging your employees.
It’s about aligning everyone towards the same objective. That means it’s important you set clear KPIs, both for the development process, and for the product after launch.
To End On A High Note
You don’t have to worry about starting from scratch.
A PRD is not the easiest thing to do right, and it’s not something everyone can knock out in a few hours.
So we created some PRD Templates to help you get started.
Did this help?
Do you feel confident? Do you now know how to create a PRD?
Let us know below!