Are you planning to create a Saas product? Do you want to ensure that your product meets the needs of your target users and aligns with your business goals? Then you need a comprehensive "Saas Product Requirement Document (PRD)."
But before we dig into what a SaaS PRD include, let's first understand,
What does the term product requirement document (PRD) mean?
As mentioned in one of our recent blogs on how to create a better PRD, we explained this term more straightforwardly:
"Product Requirement Document, or PRD, is a consolidated brief of the project, containing the details like who will use it, the timelines of the work, and the process to be followed. It is the starting point further dictating the course of action."
You may find many articles across the web on how to create a PRD however creating a Saas PRD which is not generic and tailored to your specific product can be challenging. Hence, we've created this ultimate guide to help you create a Saas PRD that is both unique and effective.
This guide will walk you through the key components and best practices in writing a Saas PRD to build a successful product. We'll provide realistic software examples for each step to help you better understand what to include in SaaS PRD.
At the end of this guide, you'll have a comprehensive Saas PRD that will guide the design & development team to build a product that meets business needs and delights the target audience. So, let's get started!
I. Key components of a Saas Product Requirement Document (PRD):
Including the below vital elements in SaaS Product Requirement Document (PRD) ensures that your product meets the needs of the target users and aligns with the business goals. We have taken the example of the widely known accounting software "ZOHO" to help you better understand each of the below components.
This component outlines the purpose and goals of the product. It should clearly state what problem the product solves and what value and unique selling proposition (USP) it provides to the targeted users.
Example: Zoho Books aims to simplify accounting for mid-market, small businesses, and freelancers by providing easy-to-use, affordable, and comprehensive accounting software.
2. Business Requirements:
This component outlines the business goals and objectives of the product. It should include details about the revenue model, pricing strategy, marketing plan, and other business requirements essential to the product's success.
Example: Zoho Books has a subscription-based revenue model, starting with a free model and affordable subscription plans. The company's pricing strategy includes offering discounts for annual subscriptions and bundling the software with other products in the Zoho suite.
3. Defining target users and their categorisation:
This section defines the product's target audience and should include demographics, psychographics, and other relevant information about the target users.
Example: Zoho Books' target users include small and medium enterprises (SMEs), freelancers, accountants, and lawyers, who need accounting software that is affordable, easy to use, and helps them manage their finances effectively.
However, in addition to defining the target audience, it's vital to categorise users further based on their hierarchy level in the organisation.
This can help the design & development team understand how different users will interact with the product and what features and modules will be most important to each group.
Example: In the case of Zoho Books, a possible user categorisation could be:
Owners/Managers: These users have full access to Zoho Books' features and can manage their company's finances and accounting tasks. They may also be able to assign tasks to other users and review their work.
Accountants/Bookkeepers: These users are responsible for maintaining the company's financial records and preparing financial reports. They may have access to some administrative features in Zoho Books, such as setting up bank feeds and managing user permissions.
Sales Representatives: These users primarily use Zoho Books to generate invoices and manage customer payments. They may need more access to other features like tracking expenses or running financial reports.
By categorising users based on their hierarchy level, the design and development team can prioritise features and functionalities most relevant to each group. For example, Zoho Books may focus on improving the financial reporting capabilities for owners/managers, streamlining the invoicing process for sales representatives, and providing efficient ways for accountants/bookkeepers to reconcile accounts and manage financial transactions.
4. Product Scope:
This section outlines the features and modules of the product, and it should include a list of all the features and modules the product will have, along with their descriptions. To simplify, features and modules are like drawers comprising the subactions or further functionality of that product module.
Example: Zoho books include features such as invoicing, inventory, expense tracking, time tracking, and financial reporting.
5. User Journeys:
This component defines how each targeted user will interact with the product. It should include a list of user journeys, which are short descriptions of how the categorised users will use the product to achieve their goals.
Example: In the above image, Invoice is a module where sales representative can navigate the software further for invoicing tasks. Creating and sending professional-looking invoices to customers and track expenses to gain insights into their business performance is termed as a user journey under the invoice module.
6. Technical Requirements:
This section outlines the technical specifications of the product. It should highlight details about the technology stack, hosting, security, and other technical requirements and limitations if any, for the product's development, like any specific guides designers need to follow or which devices users will use for the product and so on.
Example: Zoho Books is a cloud-based software built on a stack that includes Java, Spring, Hibernate, and MySQL. It is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and uses SSL encryption to ensure data security.
7. User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) Design Requirements:
This component outlines the design and usability requirements of the product. It should include details about the design principles, colour palette, typography, and other design elements essential to the product's user interface and user experience. If any competitor's references or user research data, key insights are available.
Example: Zoho Books has a clean and intuitive UI with a colour scheme that reflects the company's branding. The software follows design principles prioritising ease of use and simplicity, with clear and concise labels and instructions.
8. Project Timelines:
The section is essential as it helps to understand the project timeline, which includes the key milestones and deliverables, as well as the estimated start and end dates for each phase of the project. This can help the design & development team stay on track and ensure the product is delivered timely.
9. Acceptance Criteria:
This component outlines the criteria for determining whether the product is acceptable. It should include a list of requirements that must be met for the product to be considered complete and ready for release.
Example: To be considered acceptable, Zoho Books must meet specific requirements, such as being able to generate invoices that are compliant with local tax laws, providing customisable financial reports, and integrating with third-party payment gateways.
II. Best Practices for creating a Saas Product Requirement Document (PRD) for product owners/managers:
Keep Stakeholders Involved:
The PRD should be created with key decision-makers, including designers, developers, branding, and marketing team. This can help ensure that the PRD accurately covers all the required information to build a product, reflects the product vision, and meets the business & user needs. Like if any branding guidelines have to follow branding team can provide insights on the same. Key member involvement ensures that all members are on the same page.
2. Define the priorities with crucial members
Discuss priority requirements with the key members/decision-makers based on their importance and feasibility. This can help ensure that the design and development team focuses on the most critical requirements first and delivers a product that meets the needs of its users.
3. Keep it clear:
The more precise and concise the PRD is written with industry-specific terminologies, the lesser the rework or confusion. Clarity can help ensure that the design and development team understands the requirements and can effectively execute the project. Below is a glimpse of one of the sections from Ungrammary’s PRD that can be used for clarity in PRD.
Tip: a) Try using a tabular format to list the modules, their process notes and design comments, if any. You can also add a persona column here to highlight which user would be accessing that feature. Instead of long lengthy details in paragraphs, this tabular format becomes easy to refer to for the design and development team.
b) You can also use diagrams and visual aids to clarify complex concepts and requirements and make them easier for all, including designers, developers, and stakeholders, to understand. These can also be on rough paper or sketch and not necessarily be prepared on any tool. Some examples of visual aids you can use in a Saas PRD include any basic flowcharts, wireframes, and diagrams, if any are available beforehand. Flowcharts can illustrate complex user workflows and system interactions, while basic wireframes can help visualise user interface designs and layouts the key members expect. (Usage of wireframes can depend on what stage the project is: is it a revamp or a fresh project? However, it's not mandatorily to use at the PRD stage). Diagrams can be used to demonstrate technical architectures and data models.
4. Reviewing and revising the document to incorporate feedback
The PRD should be continuously reviewed and updated throughout the design and development process. Regular reviews help ensure that the product vision is aligned with the development team's work and that the product meets the needs of its intended users. If there is any feedback, it can be solved at the ongoing stage itself, thus, saving time and effort.
In conclusion, a well-crafted PRD is essential for building a successful SaaS product. By working closely with key members to ensure that the PRD includes all of the critical elements, UI/UX designers can help to ensure that the product meets the needs of users, delivers the promised features and functionalities, and is compliant with all relevant regulations and standards.