A product brief (or product spec) is a short document that outlines all the requirements, goals, and specifications needed to build and launch a product.
The product brief acts as a single-source of truth for all departments involved in a project, from UX design to software development, marketing, and sales.
Ideally, the document should be the result of a collaborative effort, to make sure that all aspects of product development have been accurately sketched out.
A product brief provides vital context for the build and unifies the efforts of all departments involved in product development.
In doing so, it helps product teams push in the same direction and stay on schedule.
A well-crafted product brief eliminates presumptions and avoids misunderstandings, offering clear strategic guidelines. A product brief is also important because it creates a fruitful environment for product teams to collaborate and brainstorm new ideas.
Let’s say you’re building a new platform designed to connect event managers with sponsors.
A product brief can help developers and marketing teams start a conversation around the importance of certain features according to market relevance. This way, the outcome is guaranteed to be high-quality and have a certain degree of novelty essential to all successful user-centric products.
For a product brief to achieve its goal, it needs to answer several key questions that are of interest to all product development teams.
To begin with, the document has to include a short summary about the product (the ‘what’) and the motivation behind building it (the ‘why’).
Since successful products tackle real consumer needs, the brief has to underline the problem the product is trying to solve and give further insight into how it plans to do so.
A market analysis (SWOT predictions, use cases, metrics) is also mandatory, alongside an overview of the competition. The reason for this simple: the more real-market data your team has, the better their solutions will be.
Of course, no product brief would be complete without a schedule for implementation and a post-production plan to measure the results, too.
Ideally, the product brief should be the result of a collaborative effort, to make sure that all aspects of product development have been accurately sketched out. The document will then be used the provide consistency and quality as the product development progresses.
A product brief provides vital context for the build and unifies the efforts of all departments involved in development. In doing so, it helps product teams push in the same direction and stay on schedule.
A well-crafted product brief can:
Eliminate presumptions and avoid misunderstandings by offering clear strategic guidelines.
Create an inspiring, effective environment for product teams to collaborate and brainstorm new ideas.
Offer clarity by compiling the most crucial information into one, simple-to-understand document.
Reduce errors by creating a universal understanding of the product vision.
Increase efficiency by removing the risk of scope creep.
Now that you know what a product brief is and why it’s important, let’s look at airfocus’s top tips for writing a product brief:
Market analysis — such as SWOT, use cases, and metrics — is a key step when writing a product brief. The reason for this is simple: the more real-market data your team has, the better their solutions will be.
Before you can write a product brief, you need to identify and understand the problems your customers want to resolve. You should figure out the needs of your target audience, how you can address those needs, and the overarching goals this product should achieve.
The product brief should provide plenty of context alongside product requirements. This includes competitive analysis, a well-defined target audience, and an estimated cost of development.
A timeline can help visualize the product scope when interacting with stakeholders. Of course, it’s tough to create a highly accurate time frame in the early stages, but a rough outline helps set expectations for those with an interest in the product outside of the development team.
What you’ll name your product should be the last thing your team is thinking about at this early stage. Sure, you can give it a catchy internal project name, but don’t waste too much time on finding the ‘right’ one.
Product briefs should be highly specific to the project you’re going to work on. This means there is no one-size-fits-all template for product briefs.
That said, many product briefs will follow a similar format and teams can get started faster by using a template and customizing their brief from there. Every product brief template will include:
Timeline of development