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The Product Requirements Document (PRD) specifies the comprehensive requirements a customer has for a certain product. Specifically, it explains the product’s purpose or what the product does. It includes the goals, the process, and the timeline for gathering product requirements and completing a project. In the compound noun, the word “document” can also be replaced with alternatives such as “template” or “specification”.

Did you know that a detailed product requirement template can include over 200 questions about a new product?

If it sounds like that’s too many, you’ve never gone too deep to research what your potential customer wants. Alternatively, you may have been mostly focused on small-scale projects.

Experience matters, too. Some sections in the Product Requirements Document become evident only after painful mistakes.


Why a Product Requirements Template is Key to Winning New Customers

Regardless of the project size or the stage of your journey to a successful digital agency, you need a clear and informational Product Requirements Template. Such a template is handy for both small-scale and larger projects.

A template is crucial for the onboarding of new customers without wasting time. It assumes asking the right questions, finding the right answers, and having a clear overview of the process you’ll use while you gather the project requirements.

Digital agencies spend many hours on recurring processes with unclear goals. To simplify the process, here is what you need to pay attention to in terms of content:

  • Choose a format. Spreadsheets typically work best. You can copy, analyze, and compare them, as well as add or remove cost estimation fields to scale the project.
  • Create a cover page. Include project basics – project name, project number, and name acronym, if applicable. Enter the contact details for whoever is in charge of the project on your side and on the client’s side.
  • Indicate the project start date. Don’t forget to write down the customer’s name.

Once you are done with these Product Requirements Template basics, you can set up the estimation process.


How to Specify Precise Estimates for Product Requirements

Include a section for the main and the extra requirements. Most digital projects, especially complex ones, will need separate estimates for the main product/s and one or more extra spreadsheets for product specifics. The extra estimate spreadsheets can be later repurposed or reformatted to specify costs per team member, such as developers, designers, or QA persons.

Design the Main Estimate document including columns for the following twelve sections:

  • Requirements/Components/Story
  • Estimate Notes
  • Technical Approach Solution
  • Risk Assessment Matrix
  • Risk Explanation
  • Preliminary Analysis
  • Design
  • Development
  • Theming
  • Quality Assurance/QA
  • Total Estimate
  • Risk Estimate

You can get into as many details as you want in the requirements gathering process as long as you have this spreadsheet as the core of the Product Requirements Document.

It’s useful to create an extra page. You will use it to calculate the subtotals for the product requirements. This will help you automatically monitor expenditures as you gather details from the customer. In turn, the customer will be timely informed about the project scalability and be able to make faster decisions about the direction they will take the project to.


Product Requirements Document Specifics: Questions to Ask During Each Stage

In the requirements gathering process, you and your customer create a story that identifies and describes the product. You may need to ask more than 200 questions to understand the product’s purpose.

Additionally, you need to document all the answers. They won’t get lost in the process as you involve more people.

This PRD template is designed for digital agencies who work with diverse, remote teams. However, it can help anyone who needs to have a Product Requirements Document ready at hand.

List the questions on the spreadsheet by separating them in the following sections:

1. Migration
2. Multilingualism and Localization
3. Accessibility
4. Interfaces and Integrations
5. Data Export
6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
7. Performance Optimization
8. Security and Penetration Testing
9. Search Systems
10. Deployment
11. E-Commerce
12. Design

Each of the above product requirements specifications has its own subset of questions. Without getting into each those sections one by one, let’s look into some of the key questions for the above twelve components.

MIGRATION

1. How is the data that needs to be migrated accessible? Are there files or databases?
2. Is there a definition, including fields, field types, and data formats? If so, in what form?
3. How many different data sources need to be migrated?

MULTILINGUALISM AND LOCALIZATION

1. Should the user interface be multilingual?
2. Should it be possible to create content in several languages?
3. Are different users responsible for maintaining different languages and thus for translating the same content?

ACCESSIBILITY

1. Which total value should be reached on the basis of which test criteria?
2. In which browsers should accessibility be tested? Does this differ from the general browsers? Should it be tested with a special screen reader?
3. How much percentage (%) of valid HTML is needed?

INTERFACES AND INTEGRATIONS

1. What is the goal of integration? Which contents should be integrated with which fields?
2. In which format are the interface data available (CSV, XML, JSON, oData)?
3. How is authentication to the interface (individual users or a global system user, Keys, Simple Auth, oAuth) carried out?

DATA/FILE EXPORT

1. Which data exactly should be exported?
2. In which format should the data be exported?
3. How should the exported data be selected?

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)

1. Which criteria should be applied (meta tags, title and alt tags for images)?
2. Should Drupal create automatic URL aliases and according to which syntax?
3. Who creates the SEO texts and the determination of the page contents (automated and/or by the editor)?

PERFORMANCE OPTIMIZATION

1. Which loading times are required for anonymous users? What are the competing traffic volumes on each page?
2. How about the loading times are required for authenticated users for which competing traffic volume on which pages?
3. Which server infrastructure is required?

SECURITY AND PENETRATION TESTING

1. What criteria are set for the security of the site and the server environment?
2. Is data entered via the site and is SSL required?
3. Can the criteria of the penetration test already be checked during development?

SEARCH SYSTEMS

1. Will there be more search pages besides the general search? If so, how many and what is their function?
2. Is the search function one of the main functions of the website?
3. Should the contents of uploaded files be searchable?\

DEPLOYMENT

1. Requirements for server environments (stage, live), e.g. hosting in Germany, hosting at the customer?
2. Hosting at the customer: who is responsible for setup, deployment and server maintenance?
3. Hosting at the customer: Are there any technical restrictions on the server?

E-COMMERCE

1. What’s the invoicing system?

DESIGN

1. Responsive?
2. Adaptive?
3. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)?

This is not an exhaustive list. You can add on questions to this template samples for each segment as you go along. But it’s a good starting base for making precise estimates for specific stages.


Why Use a Subtotals Spreadsheet

The Subtotals Spreadsheet should involve a best-case and the worst-case scenario.

Be incisive with enlisting the worst-case subtotals in the Product Requirements Document. This will help you avoid unpleasant risks down the line.

Take a triple approach to cost estimation. Include an optimistic, a pessimistic, and a moderate estimate. You can tweak precise costs as you finalize the product requirements gathering process. In the later stages, you can recycle the spreadsheet to generate costs estimates for each team member. For example, each designer, developer, or team lead that works on the project can have their own spreadsheet.

By creating the Product Requirements Document Template in this way, you will be able to address and document customer needs as they arise.

Do not underestimate the importance of a clear, well-structured Product Requirments Document. It’s important for:

  • Making correct estimations.
  • Expediting internal project management.
  • Communicating with your customers.

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