Product requirements document (PRD) templates

A product requirements document (PRD) contains all the requirements for a product so that the product development team can understand what that product should do. PRDs are typically written by a product manager before the team begins work. The goal is to communicate what you are building, who it is for, and how it will deliver value to end users and to the business.

There are still some industries where comprehensive PRDs are beneficial and even required. But it is worth noting that today few product development teams rely on the lengthy PRDs of old — most choose leaner versions of the waterfall relics. Though the majority of product builders are no longer encumbered by maintaining long-form documentation, we all need to define what it is we are building and give stakeholders needed insight.

If you use Aha! software, you can manage your PRD in either Aha! Create or Aha! Roadmaps. Aha! Create is free to use and comes with a lightweight PRD template, making it easy to capture requirements in a shareable note right away. Aha! Roadmaps is a more robust solution for teams looking to define features and requirements, then visualize the work on a roadmap and track progress. You can also use the downloadable Excel, PowerPoint, and Word formats found in this guide.

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Now, let’s jump into some of the questions that led you here. What are the pros and cons of working off a PRD? How do agile teams think about product requirements? What is the best way to approach writing requirements for developers? And which PRD templates should you choose from? Answers await below.


Pros and cons of a product requirements document

A product requirements document done well increases productivity and encourages cross-functional alignment — enabling deep collaboration on strategic planning and reducing time spent on version control for requirements, roadmaps, and other documentation.

Benefits of product requirements documents

The main benefit of a PRD is that it is a single source of truth. It outlines capabilities that will be delivered in a new product or release. The core product development team — along with support, sales, and marketing — will all need to know this information to effectively collaborate and deliver a Complete Product Experience (CPE) that delights customers and makes an impact on the business.

Creating, gathering input, and refining a PRD as you learn new information is a shared process that encourages cross-functional understanding and engagement — even if product managers are typically responsible for owning the document itself.

Pros of a PRD:

  • Outlines high-level direction for the product

  • Avoids assumptions about goals and scope of work

  • Documents timelines and areas of ownership

  • Details desired functionality and user experience

  • Provides needed context for cross-functional teams

Challenges with product requirements documents

If you speak to most product folks you will probably find that they loved puzzles or taking apart (hopefully also putting back together) household items as children. You have to be curious about how things work in order to be passionate about making new things that perform even better.

For a long time, that kind of curiosity was encouraged only before development began. The waterfall promise of a PRD was that you do all of the research and evaluation in order to evade costly surprises. But the rapid pace of development in software makes waiting a risk. Nowadays product teams prioritize speed to market and iterative improvement that incorporates real user feedback.

Criticism of the old-school PRD was often warranted. The main challenge cited was the unwieldiness of information and rigidity of its application — teams often were discouraged from pursuing ideas not outlined in the PRD. It could also be a scapegoat when the final product did not meet customer expectations. (“Well, we built what was in the requirements…”)

Video tutorial: How to keep product managers and engineers in sync

You cannot know what you do not yet know. A more modern approach to PRDs allows for the document to evolve along with the development process. Rather than prescribe exact product functionality and interactions, the goal is to inspire and guide product developers with enough information to create elegant solutions to customer problems.

Cons of a PRD:

  • Requires experience to write effectively

  • Limits creativity if seemingly handed down “from above”

  • Becomes irrelevant if teams are not engaged

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Components of a product requirements document

What does a PRD look like? Well, it depends — on a lot. From the industry to maturity of the organization's development process to the product itself, requirements gathering and documentation is impacted by a variety of factors. We put together a few examples of different types of PRDs below, so you can get a sense of what to expect.

As you grow in your career and move to new organizations, you will undoubtedly see many different PRD formats. And you might even have the opportunity to create your own PRD templates. But there is no substitute for hands-on experience as a product manager. The more that you are exposed to professionally — positive or negative — the more that you learn. Those collective learnings will help you write more effective PRDs. It helps to have a firm understanding of the most common elements of a PRD.

PRDs typically contain some or all of the following:

  • Overview: The basics of what you are building, including status, team members, and release date.

  • Objective: Strategic alignment, including organizational goals or initiatives.

  • Context: Customer personas, use cases, competitive landscape, and other supporting material that will help the team develop a deeper understanding.

  • Assumptions: Anything that might impact product development positively or negatively, along with how you will validate, and any known dependencies.

  • Scope: What is a current priority and what will not be included now, but may be in a future release.

  • Requirements: Details of what should be built, such as user stories or wireframes.

  • Performance: Metrics for success.

  • Open questions: Anything the team anticipates or is unsure of yet how to answer.

Earlier in this guide you saw an example of what a PRD template looks like in Aha! Create. In comparison, we have included a custom feature description from Aha! Roadmaps below. This is another approach to sharing requirements with your development team — these records in Aha! can be directly linked to strategic goals, initiatives, and other records to give everyone on the team full context into what the work entails and why it matters.

Agile teams and product requirements documents

PRDs in an agile world. Oxymoron? Only if you are a pedant for process and semantics. Agile software development teams need requirements too. The secret to getting it right is when product owners focus on high-level requirements and encourage engineering to focus on implementation.

Product managers are then responsible for providing all of the background information and direction that the team needs to move forward together — from the vision for the product to business goals to customer personas to the actual roadmap.

Best practices for agile requirements

Empathy is the backbone of successful product development. In an agile environment — particularly if you are working within a strict methodology — empathy is critical. You need to have empathy for your teammates and for your users. This extends to how you produce and share requirements.

Agile teams usually work from themes, epics, user stories, and tasks. Together, the first three comprise much of what you would find in a PRD. Themes represent a strategic initiative — or collection of epics that align to a shared goal. Epics are large bodies of work. And user stories are short requirements written from the perspective of the end user. (As a [type of user], I want to [perform some task] so that I can [achieve some goal].)

In the example below, an epic includes multiple features or user stories — all of these work items are linked to the goal and initiative that they support.

Want to try the above for yourself? Start a free trial of Aha! Roadmaps.

Epics are a container for related user stories. Stories are specific functionality that must be possible for the epic to be realized. Both are requirements, in their own way. A healthy approach to agile requirements gathering and management will look something like this:

  • Epics provide needed context

  • User stories are succinct

  • Product owners gather input from the team before writing

  • Stakeholders are involved early and often

  • Everyone is informed when updates happen

  • Backlog prioritization sessions are collaborative


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10 steps to create an effective product requirements document

The “Goldilocks principle” is a good one to follow when creating a PRD. Drawn from the children’s story about the three little bears, this refers to the idea that the best solution offers just the right amount — not too much and not too little.

We find that steps below provide a repeatable structure and process for writing a PRD, regardless of how much detail you ultimately include. Here we are taking you through a release as an example. But you can swap out that word for whatever it is you are working on, whether it is an entire product or a significant new feature.

1. Define the basics

  • What are you building? What is the “elevator pitch” for this release?

  • Who is on the team? Who are the product managers, developers, and stakeholders?

  • When is the target release date?

  • What is the current status? On track, at risk, blocked?

2. Capture strategy

  • What are you trying to achieve with this release? What is the value you expect it to create?

  • How does this support business and product goals?

3. Offer context

  • What does the team need to know to do their job successfully?

  • What informed this release? Was it a market trend? Do you have customer interviews to share?

  • Who are your target personas? What use cases have you identified?

  • Is there high-level information about future roadmap plans worth sharing?

4. List assumptions

  • What hypotheses have you made — business, technical, resourcing, etc?

  • How might these assumptions affect product development?

5. Detail requirements

  • What problems are you trying to solve? What functionality must be included?

  • What features or user stories will be shipped in this release? What is the priority level of those?

6. Include design

  • What will the product look and feel like? How will the user interact with the features in this release?

  • Do you have wireframes or mockups to share? Can you provide links to existing design explorations that will inspire the team?

7. Provide metrics

  • What metrics and KPIs will you track?

  • How will you determine the value of what you deliver?

8. Consider impact

  • Are there known dependencies?

  • What other areas of the product will this release affect?

  • What level of ongoing maintenance will be needed? Support?

  • Are other teams needed?

9. Outline scope

  • What is not included in this release?

10. Make room for questions

  • What questions can you anticipate? Are there any outstanding without answers yet? What additional research will you need to complete?


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PRD templates

By now you are well aware that PRDs are situational. There is no one ideal PRD template. The best product managers will tweak any template to best fit your product and organization. But a template is what you came for — so here are a few examples to get you started.

Note that each of these PRD templates are static. This means that each time you learn new information, you will have to manually update the PRD and share a new version.

You have better things to do with your time. If your company is ready to invest in an end-to-end product development discipline, you can avoid being dragged down by this painful process with purpose-built product development software like Aha! — enter information once, update as you go, and see the latest everywhere.

If you would prefer to create a shareable version from the start, try the PRD templates in Aha! Create instead. Aha! Create has pre-built templates for the following:

  • Product overview template

  • Release requirements template

  • Epic requirements template

  • Feature requirements template

PRD presentation template

There are times when you need a comprehensive overview so that everyone can understand what that product will do. You might be releasing a new offering or shipping a major update to an existing one. Because of the broad impact of the work ahead, product development teams typically need to present critical details to executives, partners, or other stakeholders. You want to showcase your product vision, your assumptions, and your plans to deliver value.

The presentation template download below includes a wide range of product information that you may want to capture. The text prompts indicate what level of detail you will want to include — but you can always add more or less.

If your organization already has a branded presentation theme then you can use the table of PRD elements to build out your own slide deck:

Product name

This one should be obvious

Vision

Where you want your product to be in the future

Description

Brief overview of what your product does and for whom

Team

Product manager, development team, designers, QA, etc.

Timing

Target release date

Status

Indication of current progress, such as "on track" or "at risk"

Background

Competitive landscape, user interviews, and other research

Strategic imperatives

Business case, including goals for your product and any supporting initiatives

Metrics

How product performance will be measured

Personas

Semi-fictional archetype that represents traits and behaviors of prospective customers

Use cases

Step-by-step description of different scenarios in which a user might use your product to solve a specific challenge

Assumptions

Hypothesis behind how your solutions will solve the customer's problem, along with technical feasibility

Investment required

Budget, headcount, and other resources

Product architecture and components

Functional elements of the product and how they relate to one another

Core features

Discrete areas of functionality that deliver value to users

User experience (UX) and user interface (UI)

How the user will interact with the product and how the interfaces will look and behave

Acceptance criteria

Conditions that must bet met for the product to be accepted by the user or other systems

Scope

What will not be built at this time (ideas gleaned during development can be save for future)

Open questions

Any questions the team may have — whether answers yet exist or not

Agile PRD template

It is true that agile teams may not practice requirements gathering in a highly detailed way. But there is still a benefit to documenting and sharing the essence of what you are building. Agile product development teams usually work from themes, epics, user stories, and tasks. PRDs cover what a product should do. So when you are looking for an agile PRD template, it makes sense that you would focus on the most pertinent elements related to what you will build:

Epic name

Name of epic

Overview

Description of what you hope to achieve in this epic and any background information that will help inform the team

Target release

When you plan to ship the epic

Status

  • Not started

  • On track

  • At risk

Owner

Name of product owner

Designer

Name of UX and UI designer

Developers

Names of developers or development team

QA

Names of QA managers or QA team

Strategic alignment

Brief explanation of how this supports business and product goals

User stories

List of user stories

Open questions

Anything the team has not yet answered


This is a basic template for listing user stories.

Epic

User story

Description

Priority

Notes

Name of the epic that the user story belongs to

As a [type of user], I want to [perform some task] so that I can [achieve some goal].

Be succinct

  • High

  • Medium

  • Low

Provide any additional context or include open questions

<insert here>

<insert here>

<insert here>

<insert here>

<insert here>

<insert here>

<insert here>

<insert here>

<insert here>

<insert here>

Feature requirements template

Products are comprised of many features. And as you continue to evolve and improve your offering, a lot of the product development team's time will be spent delivering feature-level work. Writing detailed feature requirements is an essential part of a product manager's work. You want to be sure to give the engineering team enough detail to avoid surprises later on — but not so much that they feel constrained. The benefit extends beyond the core development team too. Having feature requirements captured in a concise template is helpful for cross-functional teams who will support the launch of new functionality.

Feature

Name of the feature

Owner

Name of product manager

Team

List names of everyone involved, from designers to developers to QA to product marketers

Overview

Description of what the feature will entail — you can also include any background information that will help the team

Strategic alignment

Explanation of how this supports business and product goals — why are you building this feature now?

Value score

The value estimate for the feature

User challenge

The problem the user is trying to solve, along with ways that they may currently be attempting to solve it

Who it benefits

Who will benefit from the feature — link to any personas you have

Design / UX

Link to design explorations or mockups in progress

Impacted functionality

Take note of any other functionality that this feature may affect

Open questions

Anything the team has not yet answered

Lean PRD template

The goal of lean product development is to avoid the waste typically associated with top-heavy processes. Instead of separating the various groups involved with delivering a new user experience, lean practices put an emphasis on organizing around a core team who have a deep understanding of what customer and business needs. Naturally, lean teams choose a streamlined approach to requirements gathering:

Objective

Description of what you want to build — include how this effort aligns to overall strategy

Background and assumptions

Include any background information that will help the team (personas, customer interviews, etc.) along with assumptions behind your thinking

Features / user stories

List of planned features or user stories that will support the objective

User experience (flow and design)

Link to UX artifacts, such as a user story map, wireframes, or other design explorations

Constraints and dependencies

Note any roadblocks the team has already identified, such as timing of other work or impacted functionality

Open questions

Include any unknowns that the team may run into but has not yet answered

Release requirements template

A release is more than the bits of code that the team writes and ships. It is the opportunity to deliver a new customer experience — from the new functionality to the way that cross-functional teams support the go-to-market launch and beyond. With so many folks contributing to product success, it is critical to consider all of the elements that will impact your release (updating as progress happens to reflect the latest):

Name

Release name

Target release date

When you plan to ship the new customer experience

Status

  • Not started

  • On track

  • At risk

Overview

Description of what you hope to achieve in this epic and any background information that will help inform the team

Team

List names and responsibilities of everyone involved, from designers to developers to QA to product marketers — include meeting cadence for the team as well

Strategic alignment

Explanation of how this new customer experience supports business and product goals

Personas

Link to user personas

Features

List of features that will ship with this release

Milestones

Cite important dates that will reflect the team's progress

Dependencies

Include any constraints or related work that could impact the release timing

Notes

Open questions, additional background information, and anything else that the team may need quick access to

The templates above are a good start for small teams. If you find that you outgrow them, consider using the templates in Aha! Create — they are free to use as part of the Aha! Create Basic plan. Or try Aha! Roadmaps — where you can set product strategy, build visual plans, write user stories, and update documentation all in one place.

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