A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Product Requirements Documents (PRD)

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Josh Spilker
July 8, 2024
A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Product Requirements Documents (PRD)

Creating a fantastic product is an extensive process that involves engaging key stakeholders, thorough product management, research, and planning. All parties, including the development team and the engineering team, must be involved, coordinated, and on the same page. However, this is easier said than done.

Luckily, there are different methods you can use to structure, organize, and manage the whole process to increase the chances of building a quality product. One way to do this is by utilizing PRDs – product requirements documents.

What is a PRD?

A PRD is a document that highlights all the essential aspects of a future product. It outlines key assets like functionality, features, value, and purpose.

Unlike process documents, PRD documents focus on the product and not process information. They focus on a product’s functionality and intended use cases without outlining revenue potential or other financial factors.

Product managers commonly write PRD artifacts as a part of the product development process.

However, PRDs are living documents for all developers and designers involved in the process so they can understand the current status and the purpose of the final product.

PRDs are commonly used when product requirements need to be defined in advance and documented. However, they can also be used in Agile development with a more flexible planning process.

With Agile methodology, the PRD is an evolving document, with new entries added during development.

The Importance of a PRD

Here are the key benefits of creating a PRD:

Defining the Product Vision

The PRD outlines the full context of the product and aligns it with your company’s vision. The PRD should explain why the product is being developed and the goal of releasing it. That allows companies to stay on top of the product strategy and the company’s vision.

Identifying Target Personas

One of the critical aspects of successful product development is understanding your target personas and delivering products that will fulfill their needs. Your PRD highlights the target audience, their interests, pain points, and wishes. Include your user personas to ensure your product is focused on their needs.

Breaking Down the Product Vision into Features

One essential part of this documentation is listing all product features, their purpose, and which problems they solve. Companies that use Agile development often include user stories and UX design notes to clarify the features’ purpose and goal.

Setting Goals and Release Criteria

Every PRD includes release criteria that outline all the requirements the product must meet before it can be released. The release criteria usually consist of functional requirements, performance, and usability aspects, and they should be aligned with the product goals.

Establishing a Timeline

Your PRD also includes the product development timeline. That allows team members and key stakeholders to plan their work around the timeline. Furthermore, it gives you enough flexibility while ensuring you don’t overdo it with development and extra features to prevent breaking the deadline.

Outlining User Flow and Design

The PRD should include:

  • Valuable design elements;
  • Different iterations of the product;
  • Working prototypes;
  • Dimensions;
  • All other aspects required to execute the planned design.

It should also show the user flow path on how users will use this product to complete their tasks.

Including Analytics

You can include various analytics regarding your product objectives. With the right metrics and analytics tools, you can measure whether your product successfully achieves its objectives. Add key indicators and analyze them through development to see if they meet the required standards.

Getting Stakeholder Reviews

Like a knowledge base, the PRD is the single source of information and trust for all stakeholders working on product development. Everyone can see the product details, assumptions, criteria, and timeline. Additionally, in a non-static development process, the stakeholders can give reviews that can be used to update the document so that you can refine and improve the development process.

How do you Measure the Success of a PRD?

Here are the main ways to determine whether your PRD is a success:

Alignment with Business Objectives

The PRD should be linked to strategic goals and organizational initiatives. To see if the objectives have been met, you can use metrics like user acquisition targets, market share, and revenue growth.

You can also use Net Promoter Scores, feedback forms, and surveys to ask stakeholders to measure alignment with business goals.

Clarity and Comprehensiveness

A successful PRD should provide an overview of what’s being built, including key components like product status, team members, release date, and scope.

Track metrics like the number of version controls, requested changes, the reason for changes, and how these changes affected the PRD and overall outcome. It’s also important to measure the frequency of requests, the number of misunderstandings, and the time spent resolving them.

User-centricity

The PRD should include customer personas, use cases, and other contextual information that helps the team understand user needs. Constantly update your PRD with user-focused information to ensure your product is user-centric.

Actionability

Requirements, including user stories or wireframes, should be detailed enough to guide development. The goal is to align the PRD with customer needs and measure if there are any offsets and how they affect the overall product success.

Performance Metrics

The PRD should define clear metrics for success that can be measured. That should include general product success metrics like user adoption, customer retention, churn rate, customer acquisition cost, number of active users, bounce rate, etc.

Adaptability

A successful PRD should be frequently updated to reflect evolving requirements and priorities as a living document. Track how often you update your PRD, how much time is required to make the updates, and who is making the most updates.

Collaboration

The PRD creation process should involve multiple stakeholders, indicating good cross-functional alignment. You can track the effectiveness of your meetings, cross-functional milestone success, communication logs, etc. You can also utilize internal feedback surveys, feedback sessions, or the number of meetings required for collaboration.

Conciseness

Modern PRDs are typically concise, often fitting on a single page with potential additional pages as an appendix. You can track metrics like how much time stakeholders spend finding the correct information, miscommunication between employees, and overall time spent within the PRD.

Prioritization

A successful PRD should indicate the priority of different requirements, sometimes using a numerical scale. Track how quickly you’re resolving the main priorities, how often your priorities change, and how many priorities you’ve had within a single product development cycle.

Accessibility

The PRD should be easily accessible to all team members and often managed through collaborative tools rather than traditional word processors like Google Docs. Track metrics like how often your PRD is inaccessible and how much time is spent resolving inaccessibility issues.

There are other ways to get an idea about how good your PRD is, but covering most or all of these will generally be enough to ensure success.

Writing a PRD

When writing a PRD, you will need a comprehensive documentation tool with all the tools and functionalities required to execute the document flawlessly. There are various templates you can find online.

However, we’ll give you a general template explaining which information should be provided and which sections. Of course, depending on your product, you can remove, adjust, or add additional sections.

How to Write a PRD Template

⭐️ Try a PRD in Tettra. Get the template here.

Project Information

This should be the first part of the PRD, and it should outline all general information about the product.

Product Goals

This section defines the product you’re developing. Outline the product’s goals/objectives in a simple way to communicate them to all relevant departments. Make sure to include achievable and realistic goals.

Product Use & Constraints

This section should outline how the product will be used. For example, users will need internet access if it’s an online product. On the other hand, constraints are challenges that might negatively affect the product.

Product Background and Approach

A product background outlines the niche or common issues the product addresses. You can add research and various metrics to justify the need for this kind of product. At the same time, you should explain how you can create and deliver the product successfully.

Product Development Scope

The scope of your product details all the work required to build it, including its features and functions. You can add user requirements and stories to justify the need for all functionalities and communicate how they can be achieved.

Product Features

This section outlines all product features and their descriptions. Explain what the features are, how they work, what is their goal, etc.

Product Release Criteria

This section defines all the supportability, performance, reliability, usability, and functionality requirements of the product for its release.

Product Success Metrics

Determine your key performance indicator for product success and measure your results during development and after product release.

Tips for Writing an Effective PRD

Here are some general tips you can use when writing a PRD:

Do Your Homework

Creating a new product requires an extensive understanding of the existing problem and how it can be solved. You must study customers, research other similar products, and consult with your core teams to assess your capabilities and available resources.

Research Your Target Market/Audience

Many organizations fail when creating a PRD because they think they know their customers. Instead of assuming things, take the time to research the market and your audience to understand their key points, interests, and wishes.

Test and Revise

Create a draft of your PRD and get everyone involved to ensure all concerns are addressed and everyone understands the document. Consider revising the draft as a prototype until you’ve hit that sweet spot.

Having these in mind will help you create a solid PRD.

Take the time to create your own PRD template using our example. The goal isn’t to create a perfect document. Your focus is to create and deliver a product your customers will love, so avoid overthinking it and make your PRD lean with only crucial information to guide everyone in the right direction.

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How Tettra Can Help With Your Product Documentation

Tettra is a powerful knowledge management tool that simplifies the process of documentation and product requirement documentation.

 By providing a centralized platform, Tettra enables teams to collaboratively create, manage, and access important documents, ensuring that everyone stays on the same page. Its intuitive interface and robust features make it an ideal solution for streamlining the documentation process and enhancing productivity.

  • Centralized Knowledge Base: Tettra allows teams to create a single source of truth for all documentation, making it easy to find and update product requirement documents.
  • Collaboration and Communication: With Tettra’s collaborative features, team members can easily contribute to and review documentation, ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are involved in the product development process.
  • Templates and Organization: Tettra offers customizable templates and organizational tools that help streamline the creation of product requirement documents, ensuring consistency and completeness across all documentation efforts.

Start your free knowledge base today.