March 6, 2020Prd
What Is A PRD? The Only Overview You’ll Need
Let me ask you something: Is your product team struggling to align?
If you answered yes, a PRD might be right for you.
Let’s get real.
Managing a team of developers and designers can get tough.
You can get overwhelmed pretty easily. To avoid that, you need a product requirements document. It helps to:
- Bring clarity in your team
- Align everyone to the same goal
- Find solutions for your customers
And many other stuff.
But what is a PRD? Let’s dig deeper.
What Is A PRD?
A PRD (Product Requirements Document) helps people understand what your product is all about. It’s a document detailing features and user experience with your envisioned end-result.
It’s a document outlining your product’s goals for everyone involved in the development process.
On top, it’s an internal tool, but it should never get too techy or too elaborate, especially in agile development.
Its purpose is to give everyone an idea of what your product will look like.
And then to let experts build on your vision.
Let’s take an example.
Your PRD can feature an explanation like: “Our key performance indicator for customer acquisition will be onboarding 10.000 users on our software by the end of the year.”
But it shouldn’t get too specific.
You shouldn’t say things like: “We will reach these 10.000 users with a mix of inbound marketing and outbound sales efforts, focused on these specific channels: [..]”.
Can you see the difference?
With a product requirements document, you’re just giving the general overview.
And you should employ the same principle when detailing every aspect of your future product, from technical all the way to design.
That’s because you’re enabling experts to execute your vision.
I know it’s not the easiest thing to do, especially if you have a background in any type of business process.
If you’re a good designer, you’ll want to get your hands dirty.
Provide a ton of mock-ups.
Detail a branding manual.
And get geeky with the user interface.
You need to avoid that.
- The PRD helps everyone. This document won’t be read exclusively by experts. You need to make it understandable for everyone involved in the development and marketing of your product.
- You want to incentivize critical thinking. We live by a simple rule: the more trained pairs of eyes, the better. If you specify too much from the get-go, you’re putting limitations on your product. Decide on frameworks, languages and distribution channels after consulting with your team.
- You want to be adaptable. And that’s especially true if you develop in an agile environment. If you leave some wiggle room from the get-go, you’ll be able to adapt to incompatibilities and new developments.
So the bottom line is this: a PRD is a general overview of your product.
But why should you create one?
The Benefits of a Product Requirements Document
Ultimately, a PRD is part of project documentation.
So if it’s done right, it can bring clarity to your team.
You don’t need to have daily huddles just to explain the next feature you’re working on. People can just refer back to the product requirements document.
And if you created it the right way, people will understand the difference between the functionalities they’re implementing.
And why that difference is important.
A side benefit of that is the fact that management can focus on developing the vision of the product and finding new ways to market anything you create.
Ok, that’s pretty self-evident.
Anything else going with a great PRD?
Yup, it incentivizes critical thinking.
We’ve said it before, getting your team to help develop specific things about the product means getting access to a pool of resources.
Great managers already know this: You don’t want simple executors in your team.
You want proactive intrapreneurs.
A PRD can help with that because your team has a bottom line to improve with their own ideas.
But the benefits don’t end here.
The key to understanding a PRD is your audience.
Those requirements you’re writing shouldn’t be from your point of view or an investor’s point of view.
They should strictly cover what your audience needs from your product.
Everything in a PRD:
- The goals
- The reasoning behind the product
- The MVP
- The Features
- The User Experience
- The Design
- The KPIs
Heck, even the release date.
They should all be settled upon based on what your audience needs.
The benefit from that?
Your team can better understand your target audience.
And align their efforts not just to your goals or vision.
But to what your users need too.
If you’re sold on creating a PRD, you might not have a clear picture of what a product requirement document looks like.
Let’s solve that.
Examples of Great PRDs
Before we delve into it, I need you to remember that PRDs changed along the time.
Back in the .com era, PRDs were these excruciatingly long documents, covering an overview of every little possible development process and feature.
Yup, I guess it was as hard to create one as it sounds.
That’s why back in 2010, people stopped recommending them.
But then they realized: it wasn’t a problem with the underlying principle behind a PRD. It was just about how they were implemented.
And the lack of adaptability to the agile environment.
That’s why PRDs changed a lot over the years.
Nowadays, they’re shorter and even more general than they used to be. Some just cover aspects of user experience and flow, but don’t even bother mentioning a single feature in-depth.
It might change if they’re doing agile development.
So why bother?
But, people still use PRDs.
And this is how they look today.
This template by Jerry Cao is the easiest type of PRD to write.
A simple text document outlining the overall goal of a product.
Notice a few things:
First, after detailing the main objective of the product, this PRD goes straight to the target audience. What the end-user looks like and a short description for each segment.
But right after that: The reasoning behind the product.
That’s an important part of any PRD because it’s the only way you can align your team.
You need to explain why the product is built in a certain way, not just state how the product should look like.
But this type of PRD can get hard to navigate when you have to detail complex flows.
So let’s take another example.
This PRD for a mobile web software found on Fireart.com gets a bit more technical.
You’ll notice this isn’t focused as much on goals and reasoning, but that’s because it’s a different section of a PRD - either detailing the MVP, or the fully-fleshed features.
It looks complicated, but when you boil it down…
It’s just a series of tables.
If your team finds it easier to work with modular data like that, definitely go for a table PRD.
But notice something else too: it’s all general info on each feature, but they do assign priority levels to determine a basic development schedule.
It’s easy to align your team that way.
But if you want something better suited for a general audience, we’ve got a great template for you.
Techmatch’s Visual Journey
We created a PRD template (which you can actually download here) focused on providing a visual journey for your product.
You get all the room to detail your product’s features and user experience.
But it’s also packaged in a beautiful, seamless interface.
And you’ve got all the space you need to insert mock-ups and further explanations for each facet of a great PRD.
Definitely give it a try if you want to create a killer product requirements document.
But if you’re constrained by time…
You can try a simpler template.
Our Short Document Structure
This one is also downloadable here.
It’s a short template with the most important topics to cover for a complete PRD.
If you want to learn more about the basics of writing a PRD, make sure you read our article on How To Create a PRD.
In The End…
PRDs are about clarity and understanding your product through your end-user’s point of view.
We hope we answered some questions about what a PRD is.
If you want to learn more, you can also read our Complete Guide on PRDs.
And of course, feel free to slide into the comments section and share your thoughts.