Deb Dutta

Lean PRDs for Startup Product Managers

Female Founder Secrets
May 5th 2022

PRDs used to be THE go-to artifact a product manager would be expected to generate. PRDs ran as long as 20 pages, with detailed study on problem space, opportunity, persona development, solutions in the market, SWOT analysis, positioning, competitive advantage - in addition to the actual solution, user flows, mocks and KPIs.

Since Agile became a thing, PRDs became a thing of the past, atleast in many teams I’ve worked with. I’ve nonetheless been a PRD person - I couldn’t put my thoughts about product requirements into user stories - it just didnt feel “complete”. I honestly didn’t care as much about the details and specifics of a traditional scrum process as much as I cared about getting the right information in front of the right people, so the right product was getting built.

It became even more so once I Started my own company. 99% of my time was spent in articulating what I’ve learnt from user interviews, feedback, competitor analysis … and really a PRD seemed to be the best place to write it all down. But, we’re a startup! We move fast, and not only is reading length documents time consuming, writing them is even more so… especially when we are continuously iterating (on a daily/weekly basis), building nifty features, putting it in front of customers and aggressively incorporating the changes we’re learning.

So.. who has the time for a 20 page PRD, per feature?

The Lean PRD

We stumbled into the idea of a lean PRD. A lean PRD is essentially a 1-pager.. Its the quickest way to convey your feature requirements, without the repetitive context that surrounded the traditional PRDs. And this has worked magically for us.

One of my favorite tools to use (overall) has been Notion. While working at larger companies, I was used to the likes of Atlassian and Confluence for wikis… worked fine, until I entered the world of Notion…and I’m a fan!

From Team wiki, to PRDs, to Investor updates to Career pages…we build our most important docs on Notion. And while setting up our wiki I stumbled into this nifty template Notion offered for Product requirements. Its worked incredible well for us - and I’m happy to share this template for anyone looking to build in the agile world!

1-Page PRD Template:

Overview
1 sentence about this project

Problem statement
2 sentences on the problem statement

Proposed Solution
Provide 3-4 high level bullet points on how you plan to address the problem

Success criteria
1 Primary KPI and 1-3 Secondary KPIs

User Flow

  • Define user Personas
  • For each impacted persona, define the user flow
  • Add mocks, inspiration wireframes


Current Requirements

  • Specify what is specifically in scope
  • ...

Future work

  • Specify what’s to be built at a later point (post MVP)
  • ...

Non-requirements

  • List out what is clearly out of scope
  • ...

Designs
Include designs here or add directly to the Requirements or User Stories sections.

Alternatives/Dependencies considered
List any dependencies you envision with this approach

Related documents
Include links to other pages as necessary (e.g. technical design doc, project proposal, etc.)

Learn more

On a related note, I’m giving the Keynote speech at the Women in Product conference 2022 - come catch me at . after the event, Happy to take on 1-1 sessions with you to help refine your PRDs and answer any questions! IF you want to grab a slot with me for a Zoom, find me on https://www.criya.store/deb