Before any software application is started, its best practice to start with a Product Requirements Document. A product requirements document (PRD) is a document that outlines the key features, functions, and requirements of a software product. It is an important tool that helps ensure that everyone involved in the development process – including the development team, stakeholders, and users – has a clear understanding of the product and what it is intended to do. A PRD can be thought of as the source of truth that outlines all of the underlying infrastructure and functionality that is to be expected of the application.
In this blog post, we'll explore why a PRD is critical for software development, and how it can help ensure that your project is setup for success. It will also ensure a trusted, long-term successful relationship and will provide transparency into billing during development.
A PRD is a detailed document that outlines the key features and functions of a software product. It typically includes information about the target audience, the problem that the product is intended to solve, the key features and functions of the product, and any constraints or limitations.
The PRD is used to communicate the vision for the product to the development team, stakeholders, and other key stakeholders. It serves as a roadmap for the development process, and helps ensure that everyone involved in the project has a shared understanding of what the product is intended to do.
Without having a PRD it will be impossible to provide an accurate estimate and timeline that it will take to implement the project. The majority of clients that started development without a PRD typically run into technical issues and paying more than they should have.
There are several reasons why a PRD is important for software development. Some of the key benefits include:
A PRD helps ensure that everyone involved in the development process has a clear understanding of the product and what it is intended to do. This can help prevent misunderstandings and miscommunications that can slow down the development process and lead to costly mistakes.
A PRD helps the development team focus on the most important features and functions of the product. By having a clear roadmap to follow, the team can work more efficiently and avoid wasting time on features that are not critical to the success of the product.
A PRD helps identify potential risks and issues early on in the development process. By identifying and addressing these risks early on, you can reduce the likelihood of costly rework or delays later in the development process.
A PRD helps ensure that stakeholders are aligned on the vision for the product. By having a shared understanding of the product, stakeholders can better understand the trade-offs and decisions made during the development process.
So, what should be included in a PRD? Here are some of the key elements to include:
The overview section should provide a high-level summary of the product and its key features and functions. This should include a description of the target audience and the problem that the product is intended to solve. We will also identify which technologies (coding languages, frameworks) we will use for your product.
The functional requirements section should outline the key features and functions of the product. This should include a detailed description of how each feature or function will work, and any constraints or limitations. After several discovery meetings, our team will break down the requirements in granular details and ask all the right questions to make sure the vision of the application does not have anything overlooked.
The non-functional requirements section should outline any constraints or requirements that are not related to the specific features or functions of the product. This can include things like performance requirements, security requirements, and user experience requirements.
Our software architects will provide a high-level visual diagram that displays the underlying infrastructure of the application and how all the major pieces will work together and how data will flow through the application. This diagram will also outline which cloud services we will use.
We will review any potential third-party integrations and how we will integrate with those products. So we aren't reinventing the wheel and trying to be as efficient as possible during the development process, we will review existing code libraries to include in the application. A code library is a collection of pre-written, reusable code that can be easily integrated into a software application. The code in a library is typically organized and designed to be used for a specific purpose, such as handling specific types of data or providing certain functionality. Code libraries can be written in a variety of programming languages and can be used to perform a wide range of tasks, such as data encryption, image processing, and mathematical calculations.
Using a code library can save a lot of time and effort for a developer, as it allows them to use pre-existing code that has been tested and debugged, rather than having to write everything from scratch. It also can help ensure consistency and reduce bugs as the library is being maintained by a specific team which guarantees that it is working and updated.
The assumptions and dependencies section should outline any assumptions that have been made during the development of the PRD, as well as any dependencies on other products or systems.
The acceptance criteria section should outline the criteria that must be met for the product to be considered complete and ready for release. This should include both functional and non-functional criteria.
Here are some best practices for creating a PRD:
It's important to involve the right people in the development of the PRD. This should include the development team, stakeholders, and any other key stakeholders. By involving a diverse group of people, you can ensure that the PRD reflects the needs and perspectives of all interested parties.
The PRD should be high-level and focus on the key features and functions of the product. It's important to avoid getting too bogged down in the details at this stage.
The PRD should be clear and concise, with no room for interpretation. Use plain language and avoid technical jargon where possible.
Visuals, such as diagrams and mockups, can be very helpful in communicating the vision for the product. Consider including visuals in the PRD to help illustrate key points. In our PRD's we will include screen wireframes to illustrate distinct parts of the application for ease of understanding.
The PRD should be revisited and updated regularly as the project progresses. This will help ensure that the PRD remains accurate and up-to-date, and that everyone involved in the project has a shared understanding of the product.
A product requirements document (PRD) is an important tool for software development. It helps ensure clear communication, improved efficiency, reduced risk, and improved stakeholder alignment. By following best practices for creating a PRD, you can set your project up for success.
Having a PRD in place, the time spent on it will certainly reduce the cost of the overall development and pay for its self, plus more. This is because everything is known and it will reduce any blockers or misunderstandings that the software development team may have. A PRD is like having a blueprint for house construction. If you don't have this in place before building a house, things will get messy and unnecessary work may be done and have to be removed later.
I hope this blog post has given you a better understanding of the importance of a product requirements document (PRD) in software development. If you have any questions and need further clarification or ready to get your PRD started, don't hesitate to click here to contact us today.
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