A product requirements document (PRD) is a useful tool for product and development teams to utilize when gaining an understanding for all that is required to successfully build a product. A PRD lays out the business logic behind a mobile product, the technical specifications required to achieve the desired features and functionalities, as well as the user flow.
A successful product requirements document provides clarity on any new product or feature so that everyone involved is on the same page. However, it’s not uncommon for teams to receive documents that include vague requirement definitions or are missing critical pieces of information altogether. The result? Cost increases, missed deadlines, poorly designed products and, ultimately, a failure to provide users with the solution they need.
We’ve gathered a list of the top four aspects that are critical in ensuring your team can deliver a product that users require and expect, but are often left out or overlooked when writing a PRD. To gain a better understanding of how to build a mobile app requirements document, or to simply follow along, we recommend you download our PRD template.
Successful mobile products all address a specific user need. When drafting a PRD, it’s essential to know who your product is for, what the user is trying to accomplish, and how the product will solve the user’s pain points. Unfortunately, this critical information is often missed and overlooked. It’s important to remember that a PRD is more than just a list of technical specifications. Including this information is critical in allowing for a common understanding of the intent behind the product and the requirements to come. If your product and development teams don’t understand the audience and their pain-points, how can they deliver products that solve the right user problems?
All of this critical information can be included in a vision statement, which defines an explicit direction towards the end goal of the mobile app. Additionally, a vision statement defines the solution to the problem your intended users are facing, and how the product is different from competing apps in the market.
Mobile app development doesn’t end after a product is launched. Unfortunately, too many businesses make the mistake of thinking it is and don’t plan budgets or allocate resources to maintaining the app. Ideating, listing, and defining all of the requirements that are necessary to maintain your app as it grows is an important part of any PRD. Again, this helps everyone involved to see your vision for the product and be made aware of what needs to be done in order to achieve that goal. Secondly, including this information will help to avoid scope creep which occurs when project requirements are not defined and managed properly. This can result in unforeseen cost increases and missed deadlines. In your PRD, include a long-term product vision that accounts for user demands, product improvements, and new features for future iterations of the product.
While many would like to leave assumptions out, they are actually one of the more important bits of information to include in your PRD. Assumptions typically relate to how a user will behave or interact with your product, but can also include technical and business assumptions. Listing your assumptions is important because they guide your market research as you try to either validate or invalidate them. Knowing if an assumption is validated or not will minimize the risk of your team making critical errors in the product design phase. We suggest that you try and validate every assumption before moving into the later stages of product development.
Dependencies refer to any aspect that the product or product team relies on to meet specific objectives. This can include hardware that the app will run on (i.e. beacons), third-party software your app relies upon, API documentation, flowcharts, documents, or information related to the product. Thoroughly recognizing and listing all of the dependencies in your PRD is extremely important in aiding your product and development teams to gain a full understanding of the scope of the project as well as what they are working with. Failing to recognize dependencies between requirements leads to increased project risk and cost.
When writing a PRD, other key considerations need to be taken as well. In order for these requirements to be properly understood, it’s important to keep them high-level. Essentially, eliminate any jargon or industry-specific terms people may not know. While a requirement might make sense to you, keep in mind that this will be the first time your team has seen this document.
Secondly, although being detailed is important, allowing room for flexibility in your document is equally as important. For example, if you include too much detail before your product gets to the engineering phase, it will most likely need to be changed as the project progresses, which will result in wasted time and resources. When defining the requirements above in your document, be sure to allow for a flexible development process that will help you make changes to upcoming sprints.
The objective of a product requirements document is to make the development process as straightforward as possible. This document presents your team with a vision for the solution this product will provide your users. The key to creating a successful PRD lies in incorporating the necessary information, that will allow all teams involved to not only understand what is required to create the product but the intent behind it as well.
By ensuring you don’t overlook the factors listed above when drafting your PRD, you ensure your team will thoroughly understand what that need is and how your product addresses it. With a mobile app PRD, you will be prepared to mitigate communication issues that may arise during the development process so you can stay focused on the overall goal of your mobile app.