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Product Description and Project Product Description – What Are the Differences?

The Product Description and Project Product Description are two different things, despite the similar names. The Product Description details a project’s component parts, while the Project Product Description details the final product. Here, we explain both types of description in depth and even provide templates to make producing them easier.

Product Description

The Product Description presents information about a project’s component products. The product breakdown structure (PBS) visualises these and the description breaks them down. Product Descriptions are used to:

  • Understand the nature, purpose, appearance and function of the product
  • Identify the source/supply of the product , as well as who will use it
  • Identify who and what’s required to produce, review and approve the product

Project Product Description

The Project Product Description is a specific type of Product Description. It’s only focused on the final product. Because PRINCE2 is ultimately product-driven, this type of description defines what the project must deliver to gain acceptance. Project Product Descriptions are used to:

  • Get the user’s agreement on the project scope and requirements
  • Establish the customer’s quality expectations
  • Record the acceptance criteria, method, roles and responsibilities for the project

PRINCE2 Product Description Template

Identifier A unique key, usually from configuration management, which has the project’s name, item name and version number
Title Name of the product
Purpose What the product is for and who will use it
Composition A list of the parts that will make up the product
Derivation A description of source products, such as:

  • A specification that informed the product’s design
  • Products brought in from a supplier, other department or team
  • A user’s statement of expected benefits
Format and Presentation Visual guidelines for the final product
Development Skills Required The person, group or skill type the product calls for
Quality Criteria The product’s quality specification and the measurements that will be used by those inspecting it
Quality Tolerance Details of the acceptable range in the quality criteria
Quality Method How the quality criteria is checked, e.g. tests, inspections or reviews
Quality Skills Required The skill type the quality check calls for
Quality Responsibilities Role Responsible Individuals
Product Producer
Product Reviewer(s)
Product Approver(s)

PRINCE2 Project Product Description Template

Title Name of the product
Purpose What the product is for and who will use it
Composition A list of the parts that will make up the product
Derivation A description of source products, such as:

  • A specification that informed the product’s design
  • Products brought in from a supplier, other department or team
  • A user’s statement of expected benefits
Development Skills Required The person, group or skill type the product calls for
Customer’s Quality Expectations
Acceptance Criteria
Project-Level Quality Tolerances
Acceptance Method The skill type the quality check calls for
Quality Responsibilities Role Responsible Individuals
Product Producer
Product Reviewer(s)
Product Approver(s)

Remember that you can tailor these templates to make them more relevant to the project environment. For example, the project could be a document made after a company-wide brand relaunch. That often comes with a new brand colour scheme. Therefore, the product description may need a more in depth ‘Format and Presentation’. Or the brand redesign may be well documented already. In that case, the ‘Format and Presentation’ can just point to the new style guidelines. Hopefully you now understand the purpose of these descriptions and how to complete them yourself. If you’d like to carry this process out in real world projects, get qualified with PRINCE2 training. If you still have questions, or for any other queries, feel free to reach us through our contact page.