Product Brief

What is a Product Brief?

A product brief, or product spec, defines a product’s goals, attributes, and overall direction. It outlines requirements and key product information that a product team needs to build a new feature or product.

A product brief is an effective tool for product development. It requires few resources to create one, but it can deliver enormous benefits.

For some product teams, a product brief is a place to flesh out ideas. There’s no standard length; but you should use the format and length that works best for your team and product.

How does it Fit into the Product Landscape?

The product brief plays a key role in product development because it influences a product’s quality and sets the pace for development efficiency. Its purpose is to keep all members of the product team on the same page and prevent unexpected outcomes as a new product is developed and brought to market. But it is also a living document that should invite collaboration and discussion as the team explores new ideas.

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Anatomy of a Product Brief

A product brief includes key information about the user story, business case (e.g., impact on the bottom line), technical specifications, and other critical details that will help a product team build a new product or feature.

According to one seasoned Silicon Valley product manager:

“Effective product specs are a critical part of building great software. They force critical thinking upfront, scale communication, and raise accountability — all leading to higher quality, lower schedule risk, and less wasted time.”

A product brief should communicate what to build and why. It should answer these key questions:

  1. What are we building, and why?
  2. What is the problem our product is trying to solve, and how will it do so?
  3. What is the context (e.g., use cases, metrics, etc.)
  4. Who are our competitors, and how are they different?
  5. What is our timeline?
  6. How will we measure success?

Tips for Writing a Product Brief

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you craft your product brief:

  • Make sure everyone starts on the same page: To get a product through the development process, a product team must work together.
  • Use clear, precise language: This will keep everyone on the same page because it ensures that what you are communicating is understood by everyone.
  • Keep it short: Economy of language will help you distill the essential components of your product brief and also ensure that it’s more likely to be read and understood.
  • Set the direction: Remember that you are leading the charge on providing context both for why your product team is endeavoring on this journey and where it’s headed.
  • Incorporate images: Easily digestible flow diagrams or wireframes help communicate key information quickly.
  • Solicit feedback: Ask your team if you’re overlooking something obvious or if you are missing key details. Then, be flexible and prepare to make changes.

Related terms: Product Discovery, Product Development Process, Feature Kickoff, Stakeholder, Product Vision.

Ready to take your product brief to the next level? Read Your Guide to Product Roadmaps