You followed the company process. You detailed every product specification. Your voice-of-the-customer validation confirmed that this is the product that the market needs. Management approved your
Market Requirements Document (MRD) unanimously.
You were on the path to a winning product. Or so you thought.
A year later, the development team produces a far different product than the one you intended in your MRD. It’s way off the mark.
How could this have happened?
Most MRD processes are designed to ensure that the requirements for a product are complete. This is necessary but insufficient to ensure a winning product. MRD’s must also communicate intent.
Immediately after an MRD is approved, the development team will begin figuring out how to implement the product requirements. This team will make many trade-off decisions to produce a product that addresses as many of the requirements in the MRD as possible.
The final product will almost certainly differ in some way from the one described in the MRD. That’s the reality of technology, time, and budget constraints. But equipped with just a list of product requirements, the development team has no guidance for making these trade-off decisions. If you’re not getting the product that your MRD intended, your MRD might be missing these three things.
- Vision for unique value
- Performance verification requirements
It’s these three things that communicate your MRD’s intent.
Every task, project, and mission should start with an objective. Your MRD is no different. The only reason to take on producing a new product is to accomplish something. Save your stakeholders the suspense. Use the MRD to tell them what the new product is intended to accomplish. In an MRD, the objective should be stated as a business outcome. Most often, it’s some combination of
- Market share
- Revenue, and
- Gross margin
For example, an MRD objective might be:
“Introduce a new ingot casting furnace for the photovoltaic multi-crystalline silicon wafer market that will achieve more than $160M in revenue representing 35% market share with 56% gross margin by 2025.”
Vision for Unique Value
Your vision for unique value describes what must be true about the product for the objective to be met. Include in this section your
- Value proposition,
- Product positions that you will take, and
- A draft positioning statement.
If this feels to you like the start of your sales pitch, that’s because it is. It’s what you need to be true about the product to capture enough customers at high enough prices to meet your objective. Put your vision for unique value in your MRD, and the product development team will know where you are headed.
Performance Verification Requirements
Lastly, to ensure that the new product meets your intent, you need to let the development team know how to verify your intentions. This is captured in an MRD as “performance verification requirements.”
Don’t write a test procedure here. Rather you want to describe how the user will run the system in their environment, including materials, operating procedures, and success measures. In this section of your MRD, specify
- Success criteria,
- Test conditions that will simulate the customers’ use case, and
- The test data that must be collected.
This will form the framework for product release testing. The performance data that it produces will verify whether your vision for unique value has been achieved. This, in turn, will tell you if your objective is attainable.
MRD’s that produce winning products must communicate intent, not just a list of product requirements. Let the development team know what the product is intended to accomplish, what must be true about it, and how to verify those truths.