Posted in Valuable Input

How to Write a Great Product Requirement Document


How-to Article of Silicon Valley Product Group by Martin Cagan. Explains steps to write and manage a good PRD and common pitfalls, highly relevant especially for entrepreneurs and product managers.

Lessons Learned

  • Writing a PRD is central to develop a good product, therefore use a lot of effort
  • Fewer features lead to more use of the important ones, which then seems more powerful to customers
  • Customer is usually much less tolerant to complexity. Don’t think that you are your customer!

Article Summary

Product Requirement Proposal:

  • Describes the Product the company will build, drives effort of entire team/company
  • Needs to clearly and unambiguously articulate the product’s purpose, features, functionality and behavior
  • Is not a market requirement or a roadmap or a vision

10 Steps:

  1. Do your homework
  2. Define the product’s purpose (Value Proposition). Are you able to explain in an elevator pitch (30s)?
  3. Define user profiles, goals and tasks
  4. Define product principles
  5. Prototype and test product concept: feasibility and usability
  6. Identify and question your assumptions: astronomy was defined as the study of how the sun and planets revolve around the earth
  7. Write it down: product purpose, features (with use case, requirement and objective), release criteria, schedule
  8. Prioritize: must-have, high-want, nice-to-have & rank-order
  9. Test completeness: let an engineer read the PRD
  10. Managing product, update PRD

Common Pitfalls:

  • Usability testing too little too late
  • You are not your customer!
  • What versus how (specify what problem the product should solve, not how it solves the problem)
  • Too little/too much detail
  • Less is more (Only have as many features as necessary)
  • Requirements too much engineering-driven or too much customer-driven
  • Emotion can be logical (build a product that creates an emotional response)
  • Standard is actually better than better (only change for real innovation, don’t change the way a phone dials)
  • Do necessary system work with every release
  • Recommendation: include Design in PRD


  • How do you write PRDs in your start-up/business?
  • What are your best practices in writing a PRD?
  • How can you use this knowledge in your job?


Dedicated to realize visions and to develop my surroundings and myself. Co-founder of and founder of Background in Management and Mechanical Engineering.

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