Perhaps the most difficult challenge in mobile app development is getting started. The inspiration for your idea, as well as the dimensions of the concept, will change several times in the mobile app planning process. As your product vision takes shape, the initial blending of ideas is exciting, but to reduce product deviations, product requirements management needs to begin early. So, while getting started may be the most difficult, it is also one of the most important parts of the entire process.
A product requirements document (PRD) will help your startup gain focus. The objective of a mobile app PRD is to fully define the purpose of your mobile app project by detailing the business strategy and technical requirements, identifying risk areas and challenging product assumptions so your engineering team is prepared to get your product to market.
This article will go over four benefits of beginning mobile app planning with a PRD.
Mobile app development calls for thorough research to properly evaluate technical requirements; implementation plans; and market readiness. A PRD collects all of your research and assumptions in one document so you can determine if your idea is feasible for development.
One of the first steps in the mobile app planning process is determining if your idea is technically feasible. Not only do you need to know if the app can be built at all, but you also need to give your product team plenty of information to create an accurate framework for development. Essentially, examining feasibility seeks to answer: why should this idea get the go-ahead?
Many startup founders can agree that trying to determine the underlying systems and functionality is one of the most difficult parts of a development project.
A mobile app PRD forces you to put all of the project’s technical requirements on paper including any necessary and available technologies; required maintenance and support; backend systems integration; scalability and futureproofing; third-party software dependencies; and other considerations. There is a long list of technical specifications that require devoted attention. A PRD helps you assess the chances of overall success for each individual requirement, as well as within the overall constraints of your project.
Mobile app architecture, for example, is a technical requirement that cannot be overlooked during the planning phase and is arguably one of the most valuable components of a product; an app alone is nothing if it can’t manipulate data in the right way and fast. Architecture is critical in nature and many startup founders can agree that trying to determine underlying systems and functionality is one of the most difficult parts of a development project. Mobile app architecture is built to accommodate expandability so it can support multiple constraints of your mobile app project, particularly scope. Using a PRD to create a record of your product’s technical requirements begins the transformation of your high-level idea into a development reality and helps you better identify risk areas.
There are several risks in mobile app development: budget, scope, knowledge, and time to name a few. Starting your project with a PRD helps your startup better prepare for and manage risk.
The comprehensive list a PRD creates protects your project from the risk of going over budget by giving your startup the insight to allocate budget properly: for development itself as well as for contingency and change management.
Again, without proper documentation, your project runs the risk of growing beyond its initial requirements and purpose (also known as scope creep). Scope creep causes delays and blows up your budget to account for changes and extra development to backtrack or rework features that got lost in translation. A mobile app PRD helps you and your team focus on the most critical components of the product and gives you a complete view of the work involved in making your vision tangible. The comprehensive list a PRD creates protects your project from the risk of going over budget by giving your startup the insight to allocate budget properly: for development itself as well as for contingency and change management.
In mobile app development, change is inevitable. Ignoring that fact can cause development costs to skyrocket and your startup can end up with a mobile app that fails to address business objectives and user needs. A PRD will help your startup avoid this reality.
Without a PRD, it’s very easy for change to cause you to lose sight of your original app concept and all of its associated requirements at the expense of user value and cost repercussions.
Your PRD will demonstrate how complex your project is and in many cases, mobile app planning will reveal that most projects involve several systems, subsystems and functionalities. Creating accurate documentation will ensure development handoffs between team members don’t lead to mistakes or unnecessary changes.
The goal is to minimize fluctuation between the initial requirements specified in the PRD and what is actually developed; however, external forces like user demand, technological advancement, and competitive threat emerge during the development lifecycle. These unexpected realities can cause you and your team to think that development needs to make a U-turn, but rather than speeding up the implementation of new requirements, your PRD serves as a reference point to thoughtfully consider the necessity of change in relation to your product goals. Without a PRD, it’s very easy for change to cause you to lose sight of your original app concept and all of its associated requirements at the expense of user value and cost repercussions.
Think of your PRD as a translator. You have a vision for your final product, but if you don’t give your team formalized documentation, chances are they may not fully understand your concept. The fundamental purpose of a mobile app PRD is to eliminate ambiguity and lay the groundwork for your mobile app.
It’s important to remember that while a particular requirement may seem obvious to you, your product team is viewing the project from a completely different frame of reference.
A majority of errors come from miscommunication, whether a requirement is underspecified or overspecified, it can cause incorrect development. A PRD is indispensable for avoiding these costly mistakes which inflate project scope and slow down your time-to-market. A PRD is one of the most consequential tools you have to ensure you and your team build a successful project.
A PRD is the starting point for mobile app planning. The document helps you understand and clarify every product requirement before you begin development. Preparing a mobile app PRD is a direct communication tool so every member of your team understands the entirety of your mobile app project.