How do I write great specs?

What are Specifications?

Specs & requirements for product managers should not be focused on how something will be built, but they do provide product development teams all the information they need in order to make those decisions.

Product Managers should seek to answer the questions:
1. What is to be built?
2. How will you know that it is done?
3. How will you know that what was built has achieved its objectives?

Where do Specifications fit into the Product Management Process?

Specifications can be built out from the moment you generate an idea, through to delivery for product development. It is experimentation, analytics and feedback that make this a continual process. How detailed and comprehensive you make these specs will depend on your organization, but in general it’s best for Product Managers to focus on the problem and leave implementation details to developers and engineers in your delivery handover.

Specifications Best Practices

There are many different facets of a good product spec. At various stages of your idea development, you should look to detail:

  • The Business Case
  • What’s the justification for building this product as a business?
  • User personas & User stories As a…, I want to…in order to…
  • Technical Specifications Are there any technical issues for the development team to consider?
  • Prototypes These can be built up from pen & paper prototypes, to wireframes, through to digital prototypes
  • Mockups Revisions of designers’ mockups, with feedback, should all be stored under specs

Following the MVP philosophy

Creating quality specs for product management isn’t about writing copious pages of requirements, but about reaching just the right level of detail to start building. You should capture as much as needed and nothing more if you’re to strive for a more agile approach to development and build minimum viable products that can be taken to market to keep the feedback loop flowing.

How can ProdPad help?

ProdPad’s flexible idea management allows you to add as much or as little information as you need as an idea progresses towards development. Every spec can be added via ProdPad, from business case through to technical requirements. If new features involve changes to UI, you can easily attach and comment on mockups, while tracking revised versions. And ProdPad’s analytics allow you to see at a glance which ideas are the most developed and which need more work when looking to prioritise new products.

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  • Avatar
    Larry Blunt

    Is there a specific place to put Specifications in ProdPad? I cannot find it anywhere.

  • Avatar
    Andrea Saez

    Hi Larry,
    There most certainly is!

    For Products:
    You can add product details both in the 'vision' section of the canvas, or by adding additional information and files respectively.

    For Ideas:
    You can add both a business case under the 'business case' section, add additional files, and functional specs to all ideas.

  • Avatar
    Larry Blunt

    Thank you for your response. I was looking for something specific called "Specifications", not a group of items that fall under that umbrella (which is why I couldn't find them). I'm new to Product Management, otherwise that might have been obvious... :)

  • Avatar
    Andrea Saez

    Of course, I understand! Spec'ing out an idea/product involves everything from entering a vision, KPI's, to a business case and functional specs. These can be found throughout the platform in the different areas (Products, Ideas, User Stories, etc)