Outsourcing: the importance of the product requirements document

The product requirements document is an essential part of the first stage of the outsourcing process. It is going to ensure an optimal and satisfactory result thanks to precise and complete information. It is a real tool designed to clearly define the problem, identify the needs and determine the expected results while establishing the rules of conduct between the client and its provider. What is it? How to write one?

Product requirements document: definition

Speaking about product requirements document or PRD, it is contractual document that both parties should refer to. It allows you to put down in writing the ideas that will allow your company to grow and prosper, but also to make your expectations very clear. It is addressed to the “project owner”, who will communicate the details about his expectations throughout the realisation of a project to the “project manager”. The PRD will also list out the penalties for non-compliance with the client’s written expectations.

In clearer terms, the PRD must address the following:

  • Why is the project being implemented?
  • The steps to be followed for the implementation,
  • The business benefits of such a project,
  • Disadvantages of not implementing the project for the company and
  • The parties who are going to ensure product follow-up.

Good to know:

The project owner or the client has the right, if necessary, to amend the specifications in the product requirements document during the project, even if the client has already accepted the previous version!

As mentioned above, the product requirements document is a contractual document, which makes it possible to remove any ambiguity between the client and the provider. In concrete terms, the PRD will provide a clear and unambiguous guideline to the project manager, so that the project owner can be sure to deliver a service in line with the client’s wishes.

In-house use of the product requirements document

The product requirements document is an effective and comprehensive tool that:

  • Allows the company to identify its needs and to select those that need to be addressed as a priority. It gives visibility to future developments.
  • Allows the client to choose the right provider who will be able to respond quickly and effectively to the company’s needs.

How to write a relevant product requirements document?

3 major axes

A standard product requirements documents following the appropriate regulations must take into account three main axes. These are the following:

1) Background and presentation of the project:

  • What is the type of the project involved?
  • What is its purpose?
  • Earnings and expenditure forecasts where possible,
  • Situation of the product or service in relation to other similar elements within the organisation,
  • Studies completed and to be completed.

2) Functional expression of need:

This section takes the functional needs analysis to describe the solution proposed by your company. It also lists out the technical constraints as well as the inevitable elements that are important parts of the project.

3) Expected Results:

In this section, you will have to suggest the methods that can be leveraged in order to succeed in the project.

As far as the actual drafting of the product requirements document is concerned, a company wishing to outsource one of its services may take over this part or contact a specialist provider. This option can be practical, as it will allow the client to obtain an external, experienced, perhaps even more innovative vision.

Content of the product requirements document

In order to fulfil its role effectively and to enable the provider to understand and provide a quality service, the product requirements document must contain as much detail as possible. To do this, start by giving a summary about the company, its creation, its existence and the needs it meets. It should then include specific information regarding the service or product that your company offers. Finally, it will clearly list out the functionalities, needs and technical data related to the project in question.

Case study: product requirements document for the outsourcing of a telephone service

For the company, the outsourcing of a telephone service (satisfaction surveyd, remote secretary services, telemarketing, etc.), includes a wide range of benefits. These are:

  • Extended time zones,
  • Allows the company to focus on its core business,
  • Time-saving,
  • Better reallocation of roles,
  • And others.

How will the product requirements document enable a company to successfully outsource?

Through this document, the company will clearly express its expectations, its instructions, the specific vocabulary related to its activity, its organisational chart, instructions to follow, etc.

For his part, the provider will rely on the PRD to train its tele-operators to represent the client and its image in a personalised way. For this, the document will be provided to the managers in charge of the telephone operators who are responsible to take incoming calls on behalf of their client.

Thanks to the information provided in the product requirements document, the various actors (managers and external tele-operators) will provide a tailor-made service.

To conclude

In order to find the provider who will be able to respond positively to all your needs, you will have to write a product requirements document that is specifically designed for this purpose and that is formal, easily legible and formatted. Thus, the product requirements document will allow you to define your needs in a clear way in order to explain the purpose of your outsourcing project.

All the information it contains must come from reliable, concrete and precise sources, so that each player can fulfil his role fluently throughout the outsourcing process, without having to guess:

  • The elements to be developed,
  • Technical constraints,
  • A statement of existing service,
  • Explanation of the needs,
  • The planned Budget,
  • The List of stakeholders and their respective roles,
  • And other factors.

It is clear that this tool saves time and facilitates communication between the different stakeholders at the heart of your outsourcing project. The PRD is therefore essential, because it will make it possible to define in writing the needs and specifications of a plan while making this information comprehensible to all the actors who will participate in your company’s outsourcing project.

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