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How to write a product requirements document

Before you start to build any software product, creating a product requirements document is a critical step. This document outlines important aspects of the upcoming product and makes everything crystal-clear from the get-go. This master document becomes a guide for members of the technical team creating the product, business analysts and other people working with stakeholders, marketing teams, and more. 

A product requirements document (PRD) is a crucial part of the development process, so it is pretty important to discuss and explore. In this blog, we are going to do exactly that. 

In this space, we will take a look at what exactly a product requirements document is, what purpose it serves, and how to write one. 

What is a product requirements document?

First things first, what is a product requirements document, exactly? 

A PRD outlines the requirements of the product you are currently building so people know what they can expect from it. It details the purpose of the product, what features it will have, the goals of the project, and the general timeline for completion. 

The document also critically includes criteria for release, i.e. the things the product must have before it can be released to the public. These criteria in particular will act as a guideline and checklist for the entire development team throughout the project. The criteria fall under five categories: 

  • Functionality 
  • Usability 
  • Reliability
  • Performance
  • Supportability

The PRD will outline exactly how the product you are creating will succeed in each of these categories. 

Essentially, it is a comprehensive roadmap for project success. One that is useful to every person involved in a software development project. It is also something commonly used in meetings and discussions with stakeholders, as the PRD can be used to demonstrate why a product will be a good investment.

How to write a product requirements document 

There are four main segments in a product requirements document, they are:

  1. Product purpose
  2. Features and specs
  3. Release criteria (incl. Five categories discussed above) and success metrics
  4. Schedule of release

Your PRD should cover each of these areas with enough detail for things to make sense and be clear but not so much detail that it becomes too lengthy or complicated. You don’t want to be too precise either, as things will change and fluctuate as you move through a project. Sometimes the things we want to build don’t always work out exactly as we had planned, and that is ok.

As well as including these four essential segments, there are some general rules of best practice to follow when it comes to writing a good product requirements document. These include: 

 

  • Focus on accessibility and shared understanding: If your product requirements document can only be understood by your team tech, then it isn’t succeeding as it should be. Make sure that the language and format of the PRD mean it can be used and understood by a range of people, including marketing teams and stakeholders.

 

  • Prioritise the end product over “how” you are going to build it: A product requirements document should focus on how an end product is going to look within a software development project. This should be the priority over jumping into how you are going to get there. The document should demonstrate your ideal end result and why it matters. The planning of how you will get there will come a little later. 
  • Focus on user intent and user stories: Your future user should be at the forefront of your mind when creating a PRD. It needs to show all parties why a certain product will solve a user query, otherwise, why are we working on this product in the first place? Think about who is going to use the end product and how they want to use it. User profiles are an excellent thing to create at this point.

 

  • Keep it short: To write the perfect product requirements document, keep it short and don’t overdo it. It needs to be direct, to the point, and clear to read. Too much detail in complexity can overwhelm the development team starting to work on the project and it can affect progress. Keep the intentions clear and don’t rattle on for too long!

 

  • Keep it alive and add/revise when necessary: Your PRD is a live document. It doesn’t need to be something that is 100% completed and nailed down. It can, instead, be something that is used, edited, and revised as time goes on. The more a software development company works through a project, the more they learn about how things are going to work. If things need adjusting along the way this can be a good thing, it shows that your team is learning and adapting.

 

To wrap up 

 

Overall, a product requirements document is an important item to be created in any software development project. It is a master sheet to keep things cohesive and collaborative in the planning stage of any project. The PRD helps all teams and individuals involved in the creation of software to understand where they are going and what their ultimate aims are. 

 

Writing and sharing a PRD helps quick a software development project off to a great start and it is something that can greatly increase your chance of success. All teams can be in sync and all stakeholders can be convinced of why this upcoming project is worth their time and money. 

 

How we handle software development projects is hugely influential to their success. As such, an expert pair of hands is needed to make sure a project works out the way we want it to. 

 

If you are looking for an expert team to take on your next software project, you have landed in the right place. At 6B, we are ready and willing to draw up the plan for your next software product and then get straight to work. 

 

We work to meet our clients’ needs and requirements at every step of the way. We want every client to feel as happy as possible with their results. This means we know how important it is to work together, every step of the way.

 

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