The goal of the discovery phase is to build a bridge between the idea and its best possible implementation
The discovery phase is an intensive research period that is undertaken at the very start of a digital project, all the research you need in order to fully scope and plan your entire digital project. The discovery phase aims to gain a detailed understanding of stakeholders and the end customer in order to produce a better performing product.
Why we need a Discovery Phase
No Market Research
No matter how brilliant the idea, if you don’t have a customer, not meeting customers’ needs, not listening to them or even ignoring them, you won’t have a successful business.
To avoid this you need to study your Market, your Customers, and Competitors, to deep research to create an MVP that will help to validate your idea with minimum risks. Business analysis and proper understanding of requirements for the future product become one of the critical tasks on the Planning stage.
No Financial Plan
Starting a project, co-founders usually don’t know how much money one needs to spend on the business. And as a result, run out of cash during the development phase.
To avoid this problem you need to do precise and realistic estimation of the Scope of Work, Product RoadMap, Timeline, and Budget. With this information, you can create a proper financial plan and prevent unexpected cash gaps by asking for additional funding on time.
Poor Product Experience
A product is only ever as good as its UX. You can have the most innovative technology, but if it isn’t user-friendly, it will struggle to reach mainstream adoption. If your product has a bad interface, takes too much time to process, or takes more click than necessary than it would be very hard for you to get an upper hand in the market.
To avoid this problem you need to do UX/UI design. Involving the UX/UI designer to the on the Planning stage, not only saving time and costs on development mistakes but also create a visible product that will be your first Marketing Artefact in product promotion and fundraising.
How Discovery Phase works
Before you commit to building a service, you need to understand the problem that needs to be solved and is it worth building. Within the discovery phase, it is vital to understand in-depth the needs of the business.
- What are the fundamental business goals that must be achieved?
- What are the aspirational targets?
- What are the different needs of the various stakeholders across the organization?
- How is success defined and how can any potential barriers be overcome?
- What dependencies are there to ensure a smooth delivery?
The discovery phase is a collective work with a focus on the common goal - reduce uncertainty to create a viable product. In our practice, the team of experts gathered together while discussing the project. The major participants are Business Analyst, UX/UI designer, Solution Architect.
Business analyst is responsible for understanding the product idea. His main job is to identify, analyze, and record the main project requirements. He thinks through the logic of the system and offers the optimal construction of relationships. In other words, he turns business goals into functional and non-functional requirements.
The role of UX/UI designer includes user research and developing wireframes, user flows, intuitive user interface layouts and product prototypes. His main task is to make sure that the digital product provides a user-friendly experience to the targeted customers and users.
The role of Solution Architect is tech suggestions regarding the project. Based on the client’s visionary idea, Architect suggests the suitable tech stack so the product will be scalable, with a clear code base and the right architectural. The ability to connect technology with measurable business value is critical to a solutions architect.
There’s no set time period for the discovery phase, but around 2 to 6 weeks is typical. Let the purpose of your discovery dictate how long you spent on it. General Structure of Software Product Discovery Phase includes such steps:
- Assessment and Requirement Elicitation
- Interaction Design
- Preparation for Development
What you’ll get after a Discovery Phase
As a result of the Discovery Phase, you will have a set of documents describing project goals, requirements, and vision of implementation. Typically they are Software Requirements Specification document (SRS), Scope of Work (SOW) and Technology stack, Data Flow Diagrams, Product Road Map, User journey, Mockups, UI kid, Design guidelines, Team Composition, Financial plan.