Software product development process has multiple stages including idea generation, requirements gathering and analysis, design, development, testing, and release to market. Being an iterative process, each stage involves certain activities and produces a number of deliverables that help as input to the next stage of the process.
Product brief is a document that the product team develops at the initial stage of the product development process that behaves like a single source of truth for the team.
A product brief enables the product development team to understand the user requirements clearly and then plan the entire work to meet those requirements. Since it is a shared document, it helps to define a common understanding of the product among the team.
- What is a product brief and why it is important?
- Essential components of product brief
- How to write a product brief step-by-step
- 6 Pro Tips to create a great product brief
- Product brief template
What is a product brief and why it is important?
A product brief (or product spec) is a document that includes all the requirements, objectives, and specifications which are required to design, develop, and launch a new product.
This document offers essential context for product building and integrates the efforts of all product development departments. This makes it easier for product teams to follow the right direction and work together towards a common goal.
It is like a guide that can be referred to at any time in the product development process. Also, it helps to recall the decisions that you made at the time of the product creation.
This guiding document offers the answers to a number of questions in the product development process including:
- What problem will this product solve?
- What is the goal that the end-user will achieve using this product?
- What is the product delivery model and when each feature will be delivered?
- Who are the competitors and how they are solving similar problems?
- What is the value proposition of the product that customers will choose it?
- What will make this product successful?
Essential components of product brief
Product’s purpose and goals
It must be clear before developing a product brief why a certain product is to be launched, what are its applications and what are the user requirements this product will meet? What problems are being faced by users which need to be solved in the upcoming product?
To answer these questions in the brief product document, you need to understand your users and their problems. Create user personas as they will be referred to throughout the product process.
Also, defining the success criteria for the product is the key component of the product brief. Identify metrics that you will track and measure for your product.
Features your product
The features that the product will provide must be listed in the product brief document. This is the longest section which shows the below details about all the features that the product will have.
- How the features available in the product will meet the users’ requirements?
- How the users can solve their problems by using the product?
- How users will feel while interacting with the product?
- How each feature is related to the overall goal of the product?
- Priority of each feature based on its business value
When testing and release
It is important to define a timeline of your product release and delivery in the product brief document. An agile approach should be preferred which will help in defining small and quick chunks of delivery comprised of a limited number of features.
The acceptance criteria of features must include usability metrics as it will help to deliver a usable product.
Release criteria should be set in the product brief and this must be displayed in front of design managers and product managers. Before releasing the product all these questions must be answered:
- Is the product stable to be released?
- Is the product performing well to be released?
- Is the product user-friendly?
- Is the product equipped with all features and functions which are the requirements of users?
How Long Will It Take
Defining the schedule of your product is an essential aspect of the product development process and the product brief should contain this information after getting agreement from all relevant stakeholders.
Define your releases and estimate your work for each release in terms of time and effort. Sit with all team members and estimate each feature by keeping in mind human constraints like leaves, sickness, and personal commitments.
How to write a product brief step-by-step
Writing an effective product brief requires a number of steps to follow.
Product brief is a map
Never start a product design and development without creating a detailed product brief. Spending some of your time on the writing of a product brief at the beginning of the project will save your time as well as money at later stages of the product. Working on a project without clarifying requirements and developing a plan will lead you to failure.
Treat it as an agreement
Writing an effective product brief is important as it behaves like a professional agreement between all project stakeholders including managers, designers, engineers, and clients. Therefore everyone should be involved in the creation and approval process of the brief.
Responsibility lies with the product manager
Though all product stakeholders are involved in the process of writing an effective product brief, the product manager should lead this process. He is responsible for initiating the writing of the product brief and involving all required stakeholders at right time in the process.
Keep it short and simple
The product brief should not be very lengthy rather it should present all necessary key details in a concise way. Also, the product brief must be written in simple words and avoid complex language so that it can be understood easily by the target audience.
Define “what” not “how”
In the product brief, you need to focus on “what” instead of going into the details of “how”. The product brief highlights the problem that this product will resolve, and the goal that the user would achieve by using this product. This will help you to create a short and focused product brief that explains the actual purpose of the product.
6 Pro Tips to create a great product brief
A good product brief is one that includes all the necessary information on the basis of which the product will be designed and developed. Below are a few pro tips to create a great product brief.
Clear context for the reader
The product brief should include information that is clear to understand for all the stakeholders. It should contain relevant background information that helps the reader to understand where the journey started and why this product is needed.
An example language can be:
- We started thinking about this product due to…
- Our previous efforts are much related to this product….
Adapt brief templates for your needs
Product brief can also be created based on a built-in template. Since it is highly customized based on the nature and requirements of a product, sometimes it becomes difficult to follow a standard template. A better option is to create a checklist and always refer to it while creating a product brief. This will help you to stick with a standard as well as avoid the chance of missing any key information.
Bring the tough questions to the surface
Every product provides a solution to a given problem. Explore that problem and provide answers to each question that a user can face while using your product.
An example can be:
- In this product, the main question we are trying to answer is…
- While working on this product, we may need to find a tradeoff between…
Be open to changes
A product brief is a live document and hence is subject to change. Get frequent reviews with all stakeholders and incorporate their input where necessary. This approach will help you to cover all the required key details without missing anything that can become a problem for you later.
Articulating the problem and why it's important to solve it
Do not present a solution in the product brief as it might be too early in the process to come to a solution. Explain the problem in detail so that the team can have a better understanding of the reason why this product is needed. The solutions can be analyzed and decided at later stages by the team and that would be closer to the users’ needs.
- This is how we are planning to resolve the given problem….
- If we state the problem in hand clearly, it would be…
It is always a better idea to analyze users’ feedback and reviews about similar products. Do research, find out about similar products in the market, and see what users are saying about them. This information will help you to avoid repeating the mistakes of your competitors and you can focus on the things that users want to see in similar products.
Product brief template
A product brief is a document that the product team develops at the starting stage of the product development process. It helps the designers to develop a complete focus on their project by knowing its goals and results. Without a product brief, the developers will not get the right direction of work, they would be unaware of what the user demands and what they have to design.
The product brief must be simple and short. It should use simple language that is easily understandable by the target audience and there must be to the point information without going into details of the later stages. The more simple and more short it will be, the more good influence it will have on the process of the product. Same page success metrics. The product brief influences the product's quality and efficiency of product development.