Discovery Phase: What is it and why is it important?

Discovery Phase: What is it and why is it important?

Nowadays it’s unreasonable to start a software development project without preliminary comprehensive analysis. The discovery phase should become an initial stage of any project you deal with. It’s an information-gathering procedure, which brings you an in-depth comprehension of the industry, the client’s business, and the target audience. It’s important to gain a profound understanding of the stakeholders’ anticipations of the product and the end-users’ expectations as to it. The main aim of the preliminary analysis is providing a quotation to the customer. For the purpose, you have to gather the maximum possible details about the client’s needs and put it in a separate document.

All the details found out in the course of the discovery help you to scope and plan your project and benefit to the delivery of the state-of-art custom software product to your client. To deliver really cutting-edge products do not underestimate the discovery phase!

What do we need the analysis for?

  • To find out the motives, the aims, and the problems of the users.
  • To comprehend the context of product usage.
  • To find new ideas for product development and new insights.
  • To understand what are the users’ expectations and attitude to the product.

How long should the discovery be?

  • For mid-sized projects — 1-2 weeks.
  • For large projects — 3-4 weeks.

What do we do during the Discovery Phase?

During the Discovery phase, we create a series of documents and schemes for the future effective work on the project.

1. Lean Model Canvas

Firstly, a conceptual description of the future product business model for MVP is created in the form of a diagram describing all business processes related to the product: proposal, infrastructure, consumers and financial aspect.

We have a more detailed information about Lean Model Canvas in our blog.

2. Customer Journey Map

In addition, a «map» of customer communication with the product is created. This is a visual scheme of the user interaction with the product, which includes all the proposed points and channels of such interaction, as well as the client’s visualized experience, with his thoughts, emotions, goals, motives, fears on the way to achieving the result taken into consideration.

3. User Flow

To determine how the user will interact with the interface of the new product, User Flow is created in the form of schematic screens of the software solution and transitions between them. Thus, the user behavior scenarios are projected through the visual interface prototypes.

4. User Stories

A brief description of how the system will be used describes functional requirements for the system and its acceptance criteria. User Stories allow the customer to effectively prioritize the implementation of product functionality.

5. Product Vision

This document, describing the general objectives of the project and the proposed solution, allows a better understanding of the product creating goals, potential, and future prospects. Product Vision is useful to all the parties involved in the development — developers, staff, marketing department, etc.

6. Non-functional requirements

Our team also issues recommendations regarding the properties of the system or limitations that are not related to the behavior of the system — the optimal technology stack, infrastructure architecture, and expected load.

What are the main benefits of a Discovery Phase?

The benefits of the preliminary analysis and research are in fact multiple.

Quite often we face the StartUps, which have an idea but do not have a deep understanding of what the project should be like and which component parts it should contain. It’s not rare that the customer experiences difficulties to understand what the future users really need. Besides, due to the lack of technical background, the clients often fail to make a comprehensive list of the required software elements.

We always propose a discovery phase to our clients. The research is conducted by our business analyst, designer, and CTO. They communicate to the customer, find out the requirements and analyses the market. Later on, they make the project description.

Such an approach minimizes the number of alterations in the development process because the scope of the project is defined along with the other key factors such as the type of solutions, features, and functionalities required, best platforms to be used, timeframes to fit in and costs to match.

By identifying all the details in advance, the client gains a number of benefits. The main of them are:

  1. Honing of the idea and the essence of the project, based on real analysis.
  2. Finding out certain project aspects, which have not been taken into consideration initially.
  3. Customers’ expectations and problems comprehension, based on the competitors’ products research.
  4. The opportunity to get an expert evaluation of the project and the ways it can be brought to life as well as an additional insight into the alternative solutions and technologies offered by the contractor.
  5. Creating a clear list of user story for the project.
  6. Avoiding the need of making costly changes during the development process.
  7. Achieving the balance between the business goals of a client and the needs and wants of the users.
  8. Getting the possibility to understand if the contractor is a good fit for the client’s expectations, how comfortable the interaction between them is and the opportunity to make the final decision as to future cooperation.

We always perform the expert evaluation of how the project fits into the client’s present infrastructure and operational processes and recommend changes, improvements or updates if they are necessary.

As soon as we understand the project background we try to find and suggest our client’s alternative solutions, which the customer might not even realize are possible because he is not a digital expert. We often find better or cheaper solutions than initially planned by the client.

An additional bonus, which our client may receive as a result of the discovery phase, is the clear project quotation, with the scope and plan of works required and proper cost estimation. With such a document he can turn to the potential investors and get funding easier.

Through discovery, we lay the ground for the great project experience, and provide valuable software solutions customized for our clients’ needs.