Q: Do I Need A Product Requirements Document?
A: Yes. The product requirements document (PRD) helps define the product in several areas (e.g. product characteristics, regulatory standards). It will also help prevent miscommunication that can lead to costly development overruns and missteps.
DOWNLOAD THE SoProto Labs PRODUCT REQUIREMENTS TEMPLATE PRD-Template.xlsx (130 downloads)
Q: What is a product requirements document?
A: In short, a product requirements document allows for the best possible way to get all of your ideas about your product into a streamlined document, which can then be tracked and shared by your team.
Q: What does a product requirement document include?
- Functional and performance characteristics of the product
- Visual appeal characteristics, also known as the industrial design
- Way in which the customer may interact with the product, also known as human factors
- Any regulatory or compliance standards that need to be met (e.g. FDA, UL, CE)
- Dependencies and/or other factors that the product requires to function correctly
- Packaging and shipping details
The list seems fairly straightforward save for the last item, “Packing and shipping details”. It is often thought that developing this section can come into play at a later date. However, given that shipping and packaging remains to be one of the largest pitfalls in the product development lifecycle, it would be wise to consider it in the beginning stages of your product development efforts.
I will elaborate more regarding packaging and shipping in another blog post, but it’s important to note here that shipping and packaging are frequently variable costs that add up quickly. This is especially true if the product is a hit, and demand for the product is high. In a future post, we’ll discuss how the retail footprint of your product can help or hinder your sales.
As for your product requirements document, it is critical to keep good document tracking and revision control while developing a product. This can be as simple as putting a version number and date on each document created, or as complicated as a backend system that requires you to check in and out electronic documents.
Proper documentation is crucial. If it is not your forte, it’s time to either spend some time developing these skills, or find someone who already has them. Physical products are not like software; you cannot update them once they ship, so getting it right the first time is critical to the success of the product. Furthermore, good documentation can help your team discover pitfalls that might be plaguing the competition, giving you a leg up in the market place.
Have a product requirements question? Email me or leave it in the comment below. 🙂