Product Brief

What is a Product Brief?

A product brief is a document that defines a problem to be solved and generally includes goals and/or some set of high-level requirements. It provides a starting point for the design/development teams to begin thinking about a solution.

A product brief is not the same thing as a Product Requirements Document (PRD). PRD’s are a Product artifact from Waterfall times, where every aspect of the product/feature needed to be defined before passing it over to a development team. The Product Brief by contrast, is often called a “one pager” and is intentionally lightweight and focused on defining the problem, not the solution. This allows a more Agile and team-driven approach to solutioning.

What Makes a Great Product Brief?

It is not a case of one-fits-all in determining what a good product brief is. What one team finds to be perfect may be less so for another.  Will a one-pager be great or should you go for a longer document? It’s left to your team to decide, considering the peculiarities of your company, though one-page is a good rule-of-thumb when practicing Agile.

A product brief should communicate your vision and plan for the product (or feature). It should explain what you’re looking to build and why you thought it’s worth building.

The document should answer certain important questions, among which are:

  • What problem will this product solve?
  • What are the use cases?
  • How soon should we have this ready?
  • Who are the rivals and what are we doing differently?
  • What will success look like or how do we measure it?

A good product brief can not only guide development but also help to recall in the future why you decided to build a product.

Useful Tips to Creating an Effective Product Brief

In need of ideas on how to create a great product spec? Here are some valuable tips you can use:

  • Define objective – You should clearly identify what a product or feature seeks to achieve in a language that is easy to grasp. A plainly articulated objective helps to align the work of the team.
  • Identify users – Describe your target audience. Who are the people that you hope will use your product? What important need do you think they will fill with it?
  • Evaluate reviews – Find out what users have to say about products that are somewhat similar to the one you’re planning. Is there anything they’ve frequently requested for in reviews, for instance?
  • Explain needs – Going back to the need of users, ensure that you comprehend it well enough. Teams sometimes get all too eager to release a solution without being fully sure that it fills a real need. You should first describe all relevant needs clearly before proceeding to identify what solutions solve them.
  • Have clear outcomes – Make sure that you have goals that are measurable. This is what enables you, later on, to see how successful you’ve been in your efforts. Determine what outcomes are realistic and satisfactory.
  • Be open to changes – You might leave out something important. Some flexibility will, therefore, help. Discuss with your team members whether some key information is missing to make any necessary changes.
  • Keep it short – Your product brief shouldn’t extend for many pages. Pay attention to the “brief” in the name. These documents are commonly between one and three pages – shorter may be better.

A product spec goes a long way in promoting the delivery of high-quality products, by framing the problem and context to align stakeholders and management as well as clearly articulately the problem/opportunity for the working team to begin solution design. It helps the product team to bring to the market an offering that is more likely to hit the mark.

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