How to write an effective product brief (with template)

Изображение участника из команды AsanaTeam Asana16 мая 2022 г.6 мин. на чтение
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Summary

A product brief is an internal document that fosters better communication between teammates. It helps you organize your product strategy, perfect your timeline, and compile product details. Learn how to write an effective one and try our product brief template.

The key to a successful product launch is team communication. Team members must work together to develop a product strategy, define product goals, and move forward with product development. One way to keep team members and stakeholders on the same page is with a product brief.

Similar to a project brief, a product brief is a clear and concise guide to the most important elements of your product plan. This document serves as a reference, provides consistency, and can improve product results.

What is a product brief?

[inline illustration] What is a product brief (infographic)

A product brief summarizes the scope, goals, and direction of a product. Product briefs are highly customizable and help you organize your ideas, figure out your approach, and guide your product through the development process.

Who uses product briefs and when?

Typically, a product brief is created by the product manager during the planning phase of product development. The brief helps them communicate the problem and solution to others involved in the project. It can also help the product team align on what they want.

Problem: People are distracted at work.

Solution: Create software that limits distractions.

Product brief: Outlines what the product team hopes to achieve with the product, what the product will be, and what the creation phases will be.

A product brief isn’t a technical document or a business case. It won’t provide every answer, and because you create it early in the process, there’s room for change. The product brief communicates your initial plans to everyone involved in the project in order to get everyone on the same page, improve decision-making, and reduce wasted time.

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Benefits of a product brief

A product brief is the glue that connects your cross-functional team throughout the product development process. This document will be the source of truth that all stakeholders—from the product team to product marketing executives—can refer to throughout the product life cycle.

  • Offers clarity: The clearer you are when working with others to achieve a common goal, the better. A product brief provides clarity by compiling the most crucial information about your product including requirements, design, and pricing. 

  • Reduces errors: When everyone understands the common goal and their role in reaching that goal, there’s less risk of error during product development. A product brief is something your team can reference to stay on the same page.

  • Increases efficiency: Teams that know what they’re doing can work faster to achieve their goals. Your product brief reduces time wasted on re-clarification and keeps everyone focused on the finish line. 

When you can share a concise outline of your plans with others, your team will have an easier time collaborating and understanding one another. 

7 steps to write a product brief

You'll create your product brief during the initial stages of product development in order to define your journey forward. However, your product brief is a living document, and it likely won't be finished until you complete the product planning process. 

Instead of aiming for a comprehensive document, use your product brief creation process as an opportunity to align stakeholders, create a central source of truth for your team, and capture questions as they come up.

[inline illustration] How to write a product brief (infographic)

You don't always write your product brief in order. For example, the product name is often something you come up with last, after you've answered some basic questions. These steps will walk you through how to create the first draft of their product brief from start to finish.

1. Identify your problem

The first step of creating your product brief is to clearly identify the problems you’re trying to solve. By doing this first, you’ll have a foundation for the product—and the solution—you’re creating. Consider the following questions in this phase:

  • What are the needs of our target audience?

  • How can we meet those needs with our product?

  • What should we ultimately seek to achieve?

By starting with this information, you’re immediately figuring out why your product matters and what features you need to include in order to best help your audience. But as with all elements of the product brief, this section isn’t just for the product development team. It will also make it easier for other teams to find value in your product brief. For example, your marketing team can use this information to position the product. Alternatively, your sales team will have an easier time selling the product if they can explain how it will make someone’s life easier.

2. Define the product requirements

Once you know what specific problem your product needs to solve, work with your product team to define the product requirements. Product requirements provide structure for your product and help others visualize it. They may include things like:

Product features and functionality explain how the product works and what the product needs to work in that way. For example, one element of a cell phone’s functionality is to call people. A product feature to facilitate this functionality is an internal speaker. 

Include user stories to complement your product features and make your product brief more digestible. User stories explain your features in a non-technical way from the perspective of the end user.

3. Give the product context

After identifying your product requirements, it’s time to give the product context. Conduct user research to analyze competitors, define your audience, and estimate a price for your product.

Analyze competitors

Evaluate who your competitors are and how they position themselves in your target market. Competitive analysis will help you determine how your product differs from the other products available in the market and what unique angle you can take during product design and creation.

Define your audience

Create your ideal customer persona and articulate who will buy your product. For example, if you’re creating a data application, the ideal target audience would be DevOps team leads and project managers. Giving your teams an understanding of your potential customer will help them keep the end user in mind during the development process. 

Estimate a price

Now that you have all the details surrounding the product itself, it’s time to think about pricing. The price you choose can influence the perception of the product and your brand, so decide what message you want to send. There are various pricing options including fixed rate, a tier system, or free trials. The marketing and sales teams can offer their advice in this category, but your team will have the best idea of what the product costs to make and what similar products on the market are selling for.

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4. Establish your questions

A key part of any product brief is to identify any open questions that you can’t answer yet. The product team has the power to define what the product is and how you’ll create it, but there are often additional questions that require outside input. Identifying these questions in the product brief will help you answer them during this phase. 

Questions may include:

  • What’s the product name?

  • When will you release the product?

  • What are the product risks?

  • What differentiates the product?

  • What features are part of the minimum viable product (MVP)?

  • Which features are must-haves vs. nice-to-haves? 

Don’t worry if you can’t answer all of these questions right now. You’ll answer these questions by collaborating with cross-functional stakeholders and solidifying your ideas over time. For example, once you have a prototype, things may change and become clearer. By establishing questions in your product brief, you’ll know what you need to answer to reach your end goal. 

5. Create a timeline

Creating a timeline is a tough challenge in this early stage of product planning, but even estimates can help stakeholders visualize the product scope.

While your timeline may change once you complete your development plan, get a general idea of what phases you need to move through and what tasks team members need to complete to reach product completion. Include estimates for prototyping, testing, and release.

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6. Name your product

Create an internal name for your product during the development process. This can be a preliminary label that you can workshop as time goes on. The product marketing team can then finalize the product name once it’s ready for release.

Think about a tagline to support your product name as well. This tagline should be a few words or a short sentence that offers a better description of what your product is. If the name of your product is DataApp, then the tagline might be, “An Application Monitoring Tool.” This tagline can help the product team understand the product purpose, but the marketing team will be ultimately responsible for any customer facing materials.

7. Share and revise

Once your product brief feels complete, share it with others so they can help you find areas for improvement. 

Share it with your cross-functional team

Sharing your product brief with your cross-functional team and project sponsors to get initial feedback. Because these individuals likely participated in the creation of the brief, they can help you polish the document before you send it to higher-level stakeholders for review.

Share it with the entire product team

After making necessary revisions, share the product brief with your entire product team during the kickoff meeting. Because this is a living document that people need to refer to regularly, make sure it's easily accessible through something like a work management system.

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Product brief template

To get you started, we’ve created a product brief template, which includes the key components of product planning. Fill out each section to create a well-rounded product brief.

Free product brief template

Tips for writing a product brief

Now that you understand the product brief template’s structure, you can focus on how to write one effectively. Use the tips below to make your next brief the best it can be.

  • Make it digestible: Use images, bullet points, diagrams, and charts to break down complex ideas and product features. Keep your brief under three pages so that it’s user-friendly and easy to read.

  • Use questions to address each section: Frame your product brief with questions and answers for each part of the template. Your brief should be understandable for all stakeholders involved.

  • Make it a living document: Product briefs will change and shift as you add more features or take different approaches. With a living document, you can add and remove items as you progress.

When your product brief is easy to read and accessible to all, collaboration and communication among teams will improve.

Use a product brief template for your next product launch

A product brief template can make product development easier from ideation to launch. When paired with work management software, you can share your document with stakeholders wherever they are and put your product brief into action once you finalize it. Plan your product brief in Asana, so everyone knows the direction you’re going and how to get there.

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