How to write a Product Brief?

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This blog will cover the meaning of a product brief, templates for creating a product brief, how to write a product brief and key elements of a brief.

Building a product without a clear plan is just like going on a trip without a destination-Having a product brief is important for the development of the product because it serves as a roadmap for your product goals, objectives, features, and specifications.

A product brief helps you understand what you need to do, what you need to achieve, and the steps you should follow, just like it brings together all the necessary ingredients of a product development project and ensures that everyone involved is on the same page and working towards the same goal.

What is a product brief?

A product brief is basically used for outlining your product objectives, features, and general direction. It should list the specifications and important product data that a product team requires to succeed.

A product brief is a good tool for product development because it serves as a space for product teams to develop new concepts and a well-written product brief can also reduce confusion and offer clarity, which will increase productivity. After all, a team with clear direction is happier and more productive!

Structure of a product brief

A product team can build a new product or feature using a product brief, which contains important details about the user story, technical specs, business cases (such as influence on the bottom line), and other information.

A product brief should answer the following questions:

  • Why and what are you building?
  • What issue is your product attempting to address, and how will you solve it?
  • What kind of context—use cases, metrics, etc.—is there?
  • What distinguishes your competitors from you, and who are they?
  • What timeframe do you have?
  • How are you going to accomplish success?

What should a product brief contain?

There are many ways to present your thoughts in an organized style, but you need to meet these five points: 

1. The problem

The problem section is where you articulate the issue your product is designed to solve. This isn’t just about identifying a problem; it’s about understanding the nuances of that problem from your customer’s perspective.

To write this section effectively, you need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What challenges are they facing? How does this problem impact their life or work? The more deeply you understand the problem, the better positioned you’ll be to solve it.

2. Measurable goals

Once you’ve defined the problem, the next step is to set measurable goals. These are the specific outcomes you hope to achieve with your product.

Your goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, instead of saying “We want to increase user engagement,” a SMART goal would be “We aim to increase user session duration by 15% over the next quarter.”

3. Context

The context section provides the background information necessary to understand why this product matters. This could include market research, competitive analysis, user behavior trends, or any other information that helps frame the problem and solution.

The goal here isn’t to bombard your team with data. It’s to provide a clear and concise overview of the landscape in which your product will exist.

4. The solution

Now we’re getting to the heart of your product brief – the solution. This is where you outline your proposed product or feature and explain how it will solve the identified problem.

When describing your solution, focus on the benefits, not just the features. How will it improve your customers’ lives or work? What value will it bring them? Make sure your solution is directly tied to the problem and goals you’ve previously outlined.

5. Timetable

Finally, your product brief should include a timetable that outlines the key stages and milestones of your product development process. This helps set expectations and keeps everyone on the same page regarding timelines.

A timetable is a plan that can evolve as you learn more and make progress. However, having a clear initial timetable is crucial for coordinating efforts and maintaining momentum.

Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Product Brief

1. Market research and analysis

Developing a product brief means doing in-depth research and market analysis because the insights and information gathered through this phase will assist shape the product brief and direct the development process.

It helps product teams make well-informed decisions regarding the direction of their products and guarantees that they cater to genuine needs and opportunities by having a thorough awareness of the market, target audience, and competitors and knowing if your product fits the market.

2. Project Overview

An overview of the entire project should be the first thing people should read when opening the product brief. This section addresses one of the key questions and provides an overview of the entire project:

Additional questions you can include are:

  • A brief history of the product
  • A brief background and context for the project.
  • What was done in the past that worked?
  • What was done in the past that did not work?
  • What do they want to accomplish with the new project?

3. The Goal

Establish a precise and clear goal for your product first. This must answer what the success of the product looks like. For example: To launch a user-friendly mobile app that simplifies online grocery shopping, your goal may be to acquire 100,000 active users within the first six months post-launch.

4. Execution and strategy

The strategy is a plan detailing how the product will be delivered to the customer and how it will be promoted to ensure maximum reach and adoption- This strategy should be customer-centric, focusing on understanding and solving the customer’s needs and problems and the execution is how you implement these strategies.

5. Customer/Final user

When your product is done, someone will pay for and use it. In many instances, the person paying and using it will be the same person (usually for B2C products), while in others, they will be different (as seen in B2B solutions such as Salesforce or Intercom).

Make sure you explain them in depth and have a clear mental picture. Some questions you could use to define them are:

  • How old are they?
  • What are they doing?
  • What are their interests?
  • What other items are they using?

6. Stakeholders and Responsibilities

Building a new product from scratch typically requires the collaborative efforts of the team like engineers, designers, product managers, and marketers. That is why it is important to specify who the stakeholders are and their respective duties. If you are not clear, you risk leaving portions of your product unmanaged, creating miscommunication and team member conflict.

Every product brief should include information about who is engaged in the project and what they are responsible for.

7. Milestone

Your product will go through several stages before it is fully operational. Creating milestones and assigning dates to them provides your team with a road map that will keep them motivated and productive. On the other hand, if you’re working with a client, you can schedule feedback meetings to allow them to voice their ideas on the product’s path. Here’s what your milestones might look like:

  • Prototyping
  • Mobile Desktop
  • Design development
  • Delivery

8. Technical requirement

For every product you will need to create its specifications to meet the demands of the customers it is attempting to assist. One may require a login functionality that allows for user transactions, while another may require an iOS-compatible app.

Collect this information as early as possible to avoid wasting time and money on features and requirements that no one needs. Also, try to keep them as simple as possible and think with an MVP attitude, at least at first, when you’re determining the project’s feasibility.

9. Visual direction

Your product brief should include visual guidelines that your design team can follow.  Elements involved include

  • Design elements
  • Colors
  • Style 
  • Structure
  • Fonts

10. Continuous update

You need to keep the product brief current and accurate, reason why you need to have a continuous product discovery and some of these updates comprise of:

  • Adding fresh data
  • Including suggestions Including improvements
  • In light of the most recent advancements
  • ensuring that the document is still applicable and helpful to all parties involved.

Throughout the development process, teams can adjust to changing conditions and make well-informed decisions by making the product brief a live document. This flexibility encourages a responsive approach and successful product development.

What to consider when writing a product brief?

The following are some important points to consider when drafting a product brief. To make sure that your product brief is as successful, clear, and effective as possible, it is important to think carefully about the terminology you are using, the style you choose to follow, and your wording.

1. Use clear language

When writing a product brief, it’s essential to use language that your entire team understands. Avoid industry jargon or technical terms that could confuse non-technical team members. The goal is to ensure everyone, from developers to marketers, understands the product’s objectives and features.

2. Using images

Images in product briefings can be a handy visual tool, you can use graphics to highlight any key points you want to make sure the team knows what you mean. They also help the team understand your product vision. Images can be photos, tables, graphs, or charts. Using graphics to break up text in documents is always the best method to make a strong impression and make sure the reader understands the content.

3. Be brief and concise

Make your brief as short and valuable as you can, there’s a likelihood that the team will understand and remember the important details. Keep the product brief focused just on the product itself and keep them from giving them too much information by not going off from the subject or digressing into unrelated topics.

4. Treat it as a guide

It is important to keep the product brief at the back of your mind and treat it like something to always remember- Make sure that you have addressed all of your team’s questions in advance by giving them a clear summary of all the most recent facts on the product in one, comprehensive document.

5. Create a product brief template

Having a standard template for your product briefs can ensure consistency across projects. It also makes the process of writing a product brief more efficient. The template should cover all the key sections of a product brief, from the problem statement to the proposed solution.

Product brief template

This template consists of the following components;

  • Summary
  • Discussion
  • Design
  • Requirements
  • Ownership
  • Resources

1. Summary

Start with a quick intro of your product. This section should provide a high-level overview of the product. It should include the product’s name, its purpose, and its key features.

2. Discussion

This is where you provide more details about your product  – You must answer the 4Ws (What, Why, Where, Who). What problem are you trying to solve and how does the product help? What are the use cases and how does your project align with the strategic goals? Describe why you think your product will interest users and other stakeholders. 

3. Design

Now, let’s talk about what your product is going to look like. Are there any specific design elements you have in mind? How do you want your customers to feel when they use your product?

4. Requirement

Alright, time to get technical. Create a requirements list that specifics the goal of the product. What are the must-haves for your product? This could be anything from software requirements to performance needs.

5. Ownership

Who’s in charge of what? This section is all about roles and responsibilities. Make sure everyone knows what they’re doing and who they’re working with.

6. Resources

You include links to important external resources in this section, such as design files, presentations, requirements documentation, and any other materials that are relevant to the product.

Product Brief Template

1. Summary

  • Product Name: [Your Product Name]
  • Purpose: [What your product does and the value it provides to users]

2. Discussion

  • Problem Statement: [The problem your product is solving for its users]
  • Market Research Insights: [Key findings from your market research that validate the problem and your solution]

3. Design

  • User Interface: [General description of the user interface design]
  • User Experience: [How users will interact with your product and the experience you aim to provide]

4. Requirement

  • Technical Requirements: [Any specific technologies or platforms your product will use or support]
  • Non-Technical Requirements: [Any non-technical requirements, such as regulatory compliance or user support]

5. Ownership

  • Project Lead: [Who is overseeing the project]
  • Team Members and Roles: [Who else is involved in the project and what their roles are]

6. Resources

  • Software Tools: [Any specific software tools that will be used in the project]
  • External Consultants: [Any external expertise or resources you plan to use]

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