The terms MRD, or Market Requirements Document, and PRD, or Product Requirements Document, are often used interchangeably. However, both documents are actually intended to serve a separate and distinct purpose.
The core purpose of an MRD is to clearly articulate:
- A focused definition of the target market
- Buyer and user profiles
- Problem scenarios which document gaps or issues that various personas are currently challenged with
The actual format for a Market Requirements Document can vary. The most common formats include; a Word document, specialized software, wiki’s, or even a spreadsheet. The actual amount of documentation is dependent upon the size and scope of the targeted opportunity and company expectations.
PRD’s on the other hand, are intended to provide the level of detail needed for the development team to understand the capabilities, functionality, and features that are required to address the market needs identified in the MRD. In other words, a strong PRD defines the breath and scope of the product capabilities sufficiently that the development team knows not only what to build but enables the discussion to shift to how to build it.
While Agile adoption, particularly Scrum, has changed the vocabulary of many product managers to focus on epics and stories the confusion about what differentiates an MRD from a PRD continues to thrive.
Each of these documents has a specific purpose. They are in fact complementary not interchangeable.
Greg Geracie is a recognized thought leader in the field of product management and the President of Actuation Consulting, a global provider of product management consulting, training, and advisory services to some of the world’s most well-known organizations. Greg is also the author of the global best seller Take Charge Product Management. He is also an adjunct professor at DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on high-tech and digital product management.