A mobile app can be used for fun or to help a business perform better. Whatever your use case might be, some steps are needed for the successful creation of a mobile app. One of them is the product requirement document. It’s often the case that a mobile app project takes more time than was initially planned due to miscommunication between the development team and the client. To avoid this, the product requirement documents should be as clear as possible. In this article, we’ll be going over ten important pieces of information that you might want to consider including in your product requirement documents for the most effective results. 

10 Important Information to Include in a Mobile App Product Requirements Document

1. The objectives for the mobile app

Before any mobile app development team can start working, they need to know exactly what are the objectives of their project. The product requirements document should state the purpose of the mobile app. If your mobile app is trying to solve a problem, the product requirements documents need to explain this. This will help the engineering team approach the task with the right mindset on what’s important to you, the client. Also, this will allow both parties to have a clear understanding of the metrics they can use to measure the development progress.

For instance, if your business is into the delivery of food, you might need a mobile app, so your customers can make purchases more easily. By including this as the purpose for your mobile app, the engineering team should be able to better assess how well the project is going by factors such as:

  • How smooth the user interface of the app is. 
  • The number of supported payment methods.
  • Image quality, etc.

2. Who will be the users of the app?

When designing an app, the mobile app developers must understand who the target audience will be. For example, if we are talking about food delivery, it can be said that the customers will be the primary users of the app. However, they likely won’t be the only ones using the app. The owner of the business, for instance, might need an app to track the location of the couriers delivering orders. In the case of the couriers, they might need the app to provide order details and accurate directions on how to get to their location. When these different user experiences are combined, the engineering team should be able to make better decisions about what will be included in the final version of the mobile app.

3. A clear statement of the product’s vision

It can be easy to get lost in what’s most important when working on a project. A vision statement can be very helpful. A product vision statement should be included in the requirements documents, so all the stakeholders involved will understand what the end goal of the project is. An effective project vision, in this case, should state the problem the mobile app will be solving and, very importantly, how your mobile app will be different from other similar apps in the market.

In the food delivery business example from earlier, the problem the mobile app might be trying to solve is getting food delivered on time to the customer. Perhaps, the lack of an app has made it difficult for orders to get acknowledged fast enough, which could have led to many customers choosing to order from somewhere else. Also, in order to distinguish your mobile app from that of competitors, a news/activity page that covers activities from within the community, such as food prices or even recipes to try out at home, could be included.

4. The list of features

When designing a mobile app, the features are one of the most important aspects of this software product. After all, it’s the features of a mobile app that will determine the user experience. It can be considered a good idea to always have user experience in mind when trying to decide what new features to include in the final version of the mobile app. If in doubt about what features might be the best, you can always consult your mobile app objectives and vision statement so you don’t stray too far from what was initially planned.

Going back to the food delivery business example, there are some simple features you can include. One could be a Sign-Up/Login page that users see when they first launch the app. Users should also be able to navigate from one page to the other intuitively. There should be images of the various food items that can be ordered. An activity feed that provides location-based content can be included. There are unlimited features that can be added, so as mentioned before, you should use your objectives and vision statement to guide you.

5. Will the mobile app be monetized

A business behind an app might decide whether to monetize it or not. Usually, mobile apps get monetized; however, this can be done in several ways. The monetization strategy your business decides to go with will usually depend heavily on the type of mobile app you are developing, who your target audience is, and the mobile platforms you will be using to launch the mobile app. While several strategies can be employed when trying to monetize an app, the five below are the most common ones:

  • Advertisements.
  • Subscription-based service.
  • Freemiums.
  • In-app purchases.

For instance, with our food delivery example, in-app purchases will likely be the number one method of monetizing the mobile app. In some cases, advertisements might be combined to generate more income. However, too many irrelevant ads could easily lead to negative feedback.

6. The mobile operating systems you will be choosing

Without a doubt, the two major operating systems are Android and iOS. If you are attempting to reach as many people as possible, you might want to consider designing a mobile app for both of these platforms.

Whatever your decision is, you would need to communicate it with your mobile app development team in the products requirement document. This is because, as you might have imagined, designing an app for another mobile operating system isn’t simply the copying of code. 

In the food delivery business example from earlier, you might not be able to design an app for both Android and iOS operating systems depending on your budget. In order to make a choice on the best platform to go with, you could conduct a survey to determine which operating system has the most users in your location. If the results show that most of your customers use an Android phone, then perhaps your first mobile app can be based on this operating system.

7. Future maintenance requirements 

It’s a common mistake to think that once a mobile app is created, then that’s all there is to the project. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Except for cases where the mobile app will be needed for use by very few people, it would need to be occasionally updated. When drafting the product requirement document, the cost of maintaining the mobile app must be included. Both Android and iOS operating systems go through updates regularly. These updates can bring significant changes to how the operating system works in most cases. Failure to update an app can lead to performance errors. Also, your business might want to include extra features in the future.

8. External apps or services your mobile app will depend on

Today, almost every app depends on other services to function to the best of its abilities. For instance, a food delivery business app might depend on services like location, weather, and traffic to plot the fastest route when delivering an order. If any of these external services aren’t adequately supported, it could lead to errors, harming the user experience. Make sure to list each of the dependencies needed for the mobile app to function in the product requirement documentation. Doing this in the early phase of mobile app development would avoid wasting time and money at later points in the project’s timeline.

9. Any constraints and assumptions

Sometimes, one may assume how well users will receive a new feature or how they would decide to use it. In the food delivery business example, one assumption could be how well users of the app might respond to seeing social feeds on their app while trying to make an order. Unless a survey has been conducted, it can only be assumed that the users will like a particular feature. It’s important to include these assumptions so that the engineering team will be able to work better when implementing various features. 

Along with assumptions, the constraints behind a project have an important impact on the direction the mobile app development team takes. Examples of constraints are budget, project time, quality, and much more. In the case of our food delivery app, a low budget might mean it won’t be possible to develop an app for both the Android and iOS operating systems. Also, if the app is meant to be launched simultaneously with a new restaurant or perhaps its launch date will align with a public holiday, the mobile development team would have to consider this when choosing the features to implement.

10. All information needed for submission

Before a mobile app can be successfully launched on any mobile app store, it needs to provide certain technical information. Depending on the operating system your mobile app is being designed for, the number and types of documents you need to submit will vary. Usually, irrespective of the mobile operating system your app will be based on, you would need to provide information such as images of the icons you will be using for your app, the languages your app will be supporting, and a description of what your app is about, as well as the supported languages and mobile devices. This information will be made available to the public so that users can make a better-informed decision on whether this mobile app is right for them.

Final Thoughts

When drafting the product requirements for a mobile app, it can be helpful to present the information to all the parties involved in this process so that everyone would be on the same page. You can always choose to go into more detail when having meetings regarding the details of the requirements. 

Also, you may want to make room for feedback from the engineering team designing the mobile app in the product requirements document. Some points included in the business requirements might not be feasible, so you don’t want to spend time and money on a feature that won’t be included in the final version of your app. When drafting out the product requirements document, you can provide questions directed to the mobile app team to get their feedback.