Difference between PRD and Concept Note in Product Management

Great products are built on even greater foundations. Product Requirements Documents and Concept Notes in Product Management are among the main documents that lays foundations for building products.

Product Requirements Document and Concept Note stands on similar pillars and is one of the major areas of the Product Management lifecycle.

What is a Product Requirements Document(PRD) in Product Management?

In Product Management, a Product Requirements Document (PRD) defines the value, purpose, and functionality of a product or a feature.

Writing an effective PRD is important in Product Management as it basically serves as a blueprint that communicates with cross-functional teams about what new features and additions could be made to the product in order to achieve desired results.

A Product Requirement Document is generally prepared by the Product Manager that combines various hypothetical perspectives and use-cases to support the feature to be added to a product.

Once the Product Requirements Document gets created, it is shared across engineering and development teams who in turn implements the ideas and concepts to the product.

Here is a great post by Vindhya C on how various companies go about their PRDs: https://www.vindhyac.com/posts/best-prd-templates-from-companies-we-adore/

What does a Product Requirements Document (PRD) contain?

A Product Requirements Document(PRD) fuels communication between the Product Manager, cross-functional teams as well as other stakeholders.

A typical Product Requirements Document(PRD) covers some major areas such as,

  1. Objective and Goals- Why are you building the product/feature, what will you achieve?
  2. Release- When it will release?
  3. Features- What exactly are you building?
  4. User Experience and Design Notes- How the user will use the feature?
  5. System and environment requirements- What all requirements will be needed?
  6. Assumptions and use cases- What If/Challenges to be faced?

Once you start documenting the answers to these questions, you will get a clear picture of what and why to build a specific product/feature.

What is a Concept Note in Product Management?

A concept note is the modern approach in product management to write Product Requirements and is extensively used at Razorpay, a fintech startup in India. It is more focused on a user point of view rather than a feature point of view.

Concept note in product management defines how the new features will solve customer problems, whereas the Product Requirements Document (PRD) defines how the new feature will solve a business or a feature problem.

What does a Concept Note contain?

  1. Project Summary
  2. Goal and Success Criteria
  3. Objective and Key Results (OKR) mapping
  4. Problem Statement
  5. Customer Persona
  6. Assumptions
  7. Recoverable / Reversible in case of failure without impacting Customer experience
  8. Solution considerations
  9. Solution Summary
  10. Happy Flows/Un-Happy Flows
  11. Impact assessment and Metrics
  12. Release strategy and milestones

Products evolve over time, and so, the product teams should regularly lookout for improvements.

Who are PRDs and Concept Notes for?

Both PRDs and Concept Notes serve as a compass providing clear direction toward a product's purpose while creating a shared understanding among business stakeholders and technical teams.

PRDs and Concept Notes comes in several different forms and serve a variety of audiences:

  1. Executives and Stakeholders- The roadmaps once created are shared across the board of executives to check whether the plan aligns with the business objectives and provides a clear picture of the vision of the company.
  2. Internal development and technology teams- Development teams are the ones making the ideas into action and cross-checks the requirements and feasibility of the scope of the product or a feature.
  3. Marketing and Sales teams- Marketing and sales teams are as important as the product itself as they're the ones to plan a Go-to-market (GTM) strategy for a new feature or product. Sales and marketing teams go hand-in-hand to launch the product in the market and so they need to be aligned with the right timelines and product features.

Why are PRDs and Concept Notes important?

  • Define scope and remove ambiguity: PRDs are helpful to precisely define the scope of a particular feature and remove any form of ambiguity. A precise definition of the product scope helps the engineers, designers, and other stakeholders to clearly understand the requirements and hence decide the course of action.
  • Aligns expectations across verticals: A PRD helps a team to align expectations and understanding of a feature requirement across the team. It also clearly defines the minimum requirements ( acceptance criteria) which the team should focus on before the release/launch of the feature
  • Proof/Reference for the future: PRDs can act as a proof or a reference document for any person who was not part of the team while the feature was being built. It provides a clear understanding of the various facets related to the feature

Are PRDs necessary to build products?

Though there has been a lot of debate if PRDs are any more useful because of various reasons like they are more solution-focused or they limit the use-cases that your product can fulfill. At the same time, PRDs help agile teams in many ways such as:

  1. Shared understanding of the feature to be built across teams/stakeholders
  2. PRD help you break out of "product-tunnel-vision" i.e., a product requirement document that forces you to think from a customer-first perspective
  3. PRD acts as a single source of truth for product requirements which comes from user research and implementation details for the engineering/design teams.



Watch the video below where Khilan Haria, VP of Products at RazorPay in Week 6 of Insurjo, our Flagship Product Management cohort program talk about designing and documenting your Products Requirement documents.




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