Guide #005: How to use a product brief to drive unity and innovation within your organization

Share your product briefs widely. Good ones will serve as training material for new employees and historical reference for new projects.

Take a collaborative approach when crafting your product brief

Writing a product brief shouldn’t be a solo endeavor. Include other people on your team, or outside of your team, to help complement your perspective and provide feedback. These people may end up working on the project or simply just provide input on the brief. Nevertheless, seeking a diverse range of advisers will help you start off on the right foot and help ensure you’re solving the right problem.

Use business goals and customer problems to align your team

The purpose of the product brief should be to define the goals you want to achieve or the problems you want to solve— start with a clear business goal or customer problem. Utilize S.M.A.R.T., OKRs or any framework you're comfortable with to craft your goal statement. Keep your overview concise and link out for additional information like evidence, research, data, etc. Give your team the opportunity to analyze the goal and determine their own sub-goals. Let them gain alignment by building a correlation between the business goal and user goals. Seek feedback on the goal statement from stakeholders outside of your team.

Don’t let templated product briefs constrain the flow of a project

When using an established product brief template, fill in as many sections as you can but don’t let missing sections constrain your progress. Again, in the beginning your goal should be to provide enough information to align your team. You can also consult with your team to gauge how much information they will need to be productive.

Update the product brief as the project evolves

As new insights and opportunities emerge, record them in the product brief. Use the product brief to represent an historical record of how the project evolved. This gives the team a single document to refer to for gauging progress or even resetting. This also gives the product brief additional utility as a training tool for new employees as well as reference documentation when starting other projects.

Make sure your product briefs are accessible to other teams

Proactively share your product briefs within your organization or make them easily accessible to anyone who might be curious. Give yourself the opportunity to benefit from the experiences of others outside of your product team by letting them know what you’re working on. Include a point-of-contact on the product brief.

Once the project is complete, update the product brief with final comments and share it with your organization

Once the project is complete or has reached a significant milestone, update the product brief with key results, final comments or next steps. If your team does retrospectives, include these comments as a final chapter to your brief. Help increase the collective knowledge of your organization by publishing the product brief and the results of your project in an accessible location.

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