Super Long PRDs, MRDs…. on their way out?

One more take away from the Product Management session that I attended:

Closely aligned towards the more collaborative Product Discovery process is a move away from long PRDs and MRDs – specifically in the context of technology product companies.

The traditional way of building products would typically start off with the PM putting out a super long PRD and THEN kick off discussions with Engg. Now, considering that we have moved towards a more collaborative product discovery process, the focus is moving away from super long PRD.
The session presenter talked about a couple of drawbacks with these super long PRDs which I could easily identify with:

  1. They end up getting taken too seriously and lull people into a false sense of security (“It is long and impressively put together with nice illustrations… So the PM must be smart and this must make sense”)
  2. Since the whole product discovery process is exploratory and iterative in nature, with changes to the approach as found necessary, a super long PRD is not necessary – and can actually be counter productive, since it could impede you from making even necessary course corrections.

So, here is what is recommended:

  1. The PM starts with a very brief outline of what problem you are trying to solve, why it needs to be solved and for who. This is pretty much all a PM needs to kick start the product discovery process.
  2. By the end of the product discovery process, the PM has the necessary customer and the customer facing teams (or at least part of it, with more to come during the product development process), the architect has the design documents for the Engg to execute on and the UX has the necessary UI mocks available.

But clearly, what makes you do away with the super long PRDs is actually the collaborative approach.



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