Modern Ways to Create Product Requirements Documents (PRDs) and Improve Product Teams

Aviral Vaid

Aviral Vaid

Sep 03, 20234 min read

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Modern Ways to Create Product Requirements Documents (PRDs) and Improve Product Teams

Introduction

In today's fast-paced and ever-evolving world of product development, it is crucial for teams to find modern ways to create effective Product Requirements Documents (PRDs). These documents serve as a blueprint for the development process and help align teams towards a common goal. In this article, we will explore two different approaches to creating PRDs that have been gaining popularity among product teams.

Approach 1: The Pragmatic User Story

One approach to creating PRDs is by using a pragmatic user story. This method involves breaking down the requirements into core user stories with essential functional details. For example, an admin user might have a core user story like "As an admin user, I can X so that...". This sets the context for the requirement and helps the team understand the user's perspective.

In addition to the core user story, the PRD should also include bullet points summarizing the key functional details. This keeps the document concise and easy to understand. It is important to note that the scenarios mentioned in the PRD don't need to be exhaustive. Smart engineers will work with the team to think through different scenarios and come up with pragmatic solutions as they build.

The PRD should also include a link to the designs, which should ideally be as fleshed out as possible. However, it is common for designs to be tweaked and iterated as the development process progresses. Including a link to the epic or labels provides wider context to the team and helps them understand where the specific requirement fits into the bigger picture.

Lastly, the PRD should have a space for comments or questions. This allows important decisions to be documented and clarifies any uncertainties. These comments will be helpful in the future when referring back to the document and understanding why certain decisions were made.

Approach 2: The Opportunity Solution Tree

Another approach to creating PRDs is by using the Opportunity Solution Tree. This method, popularized by Ericsson, encourages teams to think beyond a single solution and explore different possibilities. The process starts by identifying a desired outcome, such as owning a house or having more leisure time. However, instead of fixating on that specific solution, teams are encouraged to think about other ways to achieve the same benefits.

For example, instead of solely focusing on owning a house, the question "How else might you feel more grounded in your community?" prompts teams to consider alternative solutions. This approach helps break free from the limitations of a single solution and encourages creative thinking.

Jonassen, a proponent of this approach, argues that ill-structured problems have multiple solutions, with no right or wrong answers. It is up to the team to define the goal and constraints of the problem before exploring potential solutions. This mindset is crucial in product discovery, as it allows teams to approach problems with an open mind and consider all possible options.

Common Points and Insights

Both the pragmatic user story approach and the Opportunity Solution Tree approach share a common emphasis on understanding the user's perspective and desired outcome. By focusing on the core user story and the desired outcome, teams can better align their efforts and create products that truly address the user's needs.

Additionally, both approaches recognize the importance of collaboration and iteration. The pragmatic user story approach encourages ongoing collaboration between engineers and the team to find pragmatic solutions. Similarly, the Opportunity Solution Tree approach promotes iterative thinking and exploring different possibilities.

Actionable Advice

  • 1. Prioritize understanding the user: Regardless of the approach you choose, always prioritize understanding the user's perspective and desired outcome. This will guide your decision-making process and ensure that your product truly addresses their needs.
  • 2. Foster collaboration and communication: Encourage ongoing collaboration and communication between the product team and engineers. This will help streamline the development process and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  • 3. Embrace iterative thinking: Don't be afraid to iterate and explore different possibilities. By embracing iterative thinking, you can uncover new insights and come up with innovative solutions that may have otherwise been overlooked.

Conclusion

In conclusion, modern methods of creating Product Requirements Documents (PRDs) have shifted towards a more user-centric and collaborative approach. Both the pragmatic user story method and the Opportunity Solution Tree method emphasize the importance of understanding the user's perspective, fostering collaboration, and embracing iterative thinking. By incorporating these approaches into your product development process, you can improve team alignment, create more effective PRDs, and ultimately deliver better products to your users.

Resource:

  1. "Modern ways to create Product Requirements Documents (PRDs) - Department of Product", https://www.departmentofproduct.com/blog/modern-ways-to-create-product-requirements-documents/ (Glasp)
  2. "Why This Opportunity Solution Tree is Changing the Way Product Teams Work - Product Talk", https://www.producttalk.org/2016/08/opportunity-solution-tree/ (Glasp)

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