• Nnenna

Initial Product Document (IPD)

This is a follow up to the last Product Management article on Prioritising Products in a Portfolio.

Warning-- I created this template to allow me to understand a product and judge it's usefulness, and to enable me to prioritise products accurately, within my portfolio. The document gives me a sense of importance and a guestimate of the product's value, before the discovery stage-- (Discovery Alpha, Beta, Live).

The IPD has empowered me to prioritise my products or features without fail or doubt because, it captures the necessary details for making a logical decision, to the fore while providing me with the evidence that I need to justify each decision I make, all without a need to embark on in-depth research. This means that I won't need to wait till the discovery phase to figure out that the product is as valuable as guessed, or that I prioritised wrongly.

So let's dive in


This is the most important part of this IPD. As a product manager who needs to focus on measuring success, it is important to see increments as problems that need to be fixed, because it would allow you to measure the success of the solution. For instance, if I thought that we needed to fix the playground because nobody seemed to visit it (as it was in a bad state), the measure of success would be the higher number of people/kids that would visit the playground, after it is fixed.

If all the PM wanted to do was to fix the playground for no good reason, that becomes hard to measure because the desire to fix was born out of boredom, rather than an actual problem. You could state a problem using:

  • The 5 Whys: Why? hmmn, why? really, why? but why? ok, but why?

  • WWHWW (problem statement): What is the problem? who does it affect? how does it affect them? how often does it occur? why does it affect them (why is it a problem to them)? when does it affect them?

  • RCA (Root Cause Analysis): hello, Ishikawa! (Fishbone diagram)

Value Proposition

This is easy to identify when you focus on a problem, rather than a solution. That is, the value proposition for Uber (from the rider's perspective) is control and convenience NOT a trip. If the Rider wanted a trip, they could have driven their car, entered a black cab or walked... but they wanted convenience, control and at times, vanity. Now that Uber knows their value proposition, it can build and sell the app better.

Delivery Method

I included this just to allow me to know how the product will be delivered. I have a bias for SCRUM, so I will likely favour the products that will be delivered using scrum. I'm joking!

Critical Success Factor

What must a product do to allow us to know that it is successful? The answer could be something as crazy as your cat smiling when you show it your product or, it could be: ‘should this product win the Global Eco-friendly Award, we will believe that it is successful’ (Good luck mate). The success of a product is entirely set up by the creator of said product. I like numbers, so normally I would use numbers to measure success.

Target Customer

Customer =/= Consumer (The customer is not equal to the consumer).

The consumer of Baby-Food product is not the adult buying it (I hope- yes, I'm judging you, Cerelac eaters! Haha). This means that you SHOULDN'T make your Baby-Food product's label in "baby language" (or maybe you should... this generation no longer surprises me; they may actually like or understand baby speak!).

Anyway, the point is to target the customer. This doesn't just help with marketing, it helps with building the product. Take the case of products made for visually-impaired people, these no doubt should include visual aids (like braille, text-to-speech, voice activation, etc).

Customer Justification

Well, why did you pick these customers? why them, specifically? You should find questions like these easy to answer, if you didn't pick your customers out of boredom (or did you?)

CAC means Customer Acquisition Cost

LTV means Life-time Value of the customer.

In simple English: Dora spent £100 learning to fix nail extensions and spent £50 making advert cards to drop into women's post boxes. The CAC here is £50 (some may argue £150 but she could have learned the skill for herself). Anyway, if Dora charges her clients £30, then her CAC is less than the LTV (provided they attend a minimum of two sessions). CAC should ALWAYS be less than LTV, essentially, what you stand to gain from a customer should always be more than what you have spent luring them to you.

Key Partners

The people you need to make this product happen. If your partners are going to be difficult people, maybe you shouldn't prioritise it first.


As implied. It may include the cost of the MVP, advertising, customer care, third-party, suppliers, etc.

Perceived Benefits

The BAs would love this part. It describes the:

  • Business Alignment: Well, we don't want a pharmaceutical company solving an automobile problem, do we? using 1-3 with 3 as the highest, you can gauge how much a problem aligns with the business.

  • Problem Impact: using 1-3 with 3 as the highest, you can gauge the impact that a problem currently has on its customers (and re-adjust when a new problem comes in, remember that you are agile!)

  • Opportunity Forgone: To me, this is the most important piece as it uses numbers to describe what you stand to lose if you don't fix the problem. This means that some problems really don't need fixing and an OF will display this instantly if the number is 0.

ADVICE: Don't create an IPD for a Product and forget to update it, because these parameters are not set in stone. Always remember that YOU MUST BE AGILE and must always Inspect and Adapt when new products or features join your portfolio. As usual, please leave your comments, suggestions and feedback below.

#productmanagement #businessanalysis #initialproductdocument #fairygodmother


Recent Posts

See All