The idea for a new project or software development comes up in your head. You are ready, no matter what, to rush into battle and show everybody how incredible your idea is! Wait, what about Discovery Phase? I am sure that your idea is brilliant, but you need to conduct detailed project planning to implement it correctly.
Discovery Phase: to begin with
The Discovery Phase is when a product is planned, discussed, and an initial prototype is created. With a detailed analysis, the team of specialists analyzes the market, consumer needs, pains, possible risks, evaluates the software development or invention, and makes the first examples. An important step is discovering and developing the business goals and preparing after an approximate estimate of all work. It is complex work of many people in the IT field who help implement an idea.
Why should you necessarily do a Discovery Phase?
It is an opportunity for all the developers to know the concept better. After such a conditional “brainstorm” alternative and new solutions may appear. You will most likely save money because 52% of IT projects are implemented with a significant excess of the budget or poorly functioning functionality.
The Discovery Phase consists of many elements of planning, analyzing, and making layouts, but here are the main ones that you are most likely to expect:
designating goals and scope, allocating the main and side functions;
building documentation for presentation;
recognizing business goals and priorities;
identifying and minimizing risks;
identifying user roles and producing the first version;
analyzing the performance, finalizing it;
establishing a roadmap;
developing a visual concept.
Indeed, you can ask for more, but there are the main elements you will have at the end of the Discovery Phase. But this is definitely enough to present the first version to investors or start the active phase of creating a new product.
Steps in Discovery Phase
1. Initiation and role allocation
Firstly, the client should state their idea, vision, and expectations from the creation. All specialists who will be involved can participate in the meeting. After that, the group decides what the Discovery Phase will consist of and who will play which role.
2. User and competitors research
Then begins a very important part-user and competitive market analysis. Without this understanding, there is a chance that you will present a non-competitive and unnecessary outcome. A business analyst and consultant analyzes the user experience and interviews potential clients. Based on the survey results, they create a UML Diagram detailing the project requirements.
More about the UML Diagrams: https://tallyfy.com/uml-diagram/
After an interview with the customer, generating a work scenario, assigning roles, and a list of user stories describing requirements, the fun begins. Business analysts and UI/UX designers are involved. Together, they do a rough model, which gives an understanding of the future infrastructure.
4. Design concept
The UI specialist must then create one or more design concepts. It should show the main screens and the primary interface elements. It is discussed with the client: how they see the product, whether they like the current options, where there are growth points. Growth points can be different — change the concept, simplify the roadmap, improve the project’s visual part, and add valuable features to expand the functionality.
5. Making a prototype
Then the UX designer becomes the main star of the team — he does a clickable prototype to test how the user will behave when interacting. With the prototype’s help, the client can already show it to investors and get an opinion from the focus group.
Many people refuse from Discovery Phase because of the duration of the analysis and financial investments. Unfortunately, this is the wrong position, which can be worth a failure.
Who is involved in Discovery Phase
There are many specialists involved in this process, and it depends only on you how many of them there should be. But here are the specialists who must be on the team for a successful Discovery Phase.
Business Analyst: their responsibilities include collecting information from the client, compiling a list of jobs and assigning roles, organizing meetings, and managing functional requirements.
System Architect: organizes the project architecture, proves or refutes concepts and test samples, and gathers a technical team.
UX/UI Designer: their tasks are often assigned to construct a concept (visual, creative), create a prototype, and layout (in UX/UI).
The team often involves such specialists as consultants, project managers, team leaders, and account managers. All of them work for the project’s benefit.
Discovery Phase Deliverables
During the software development or invitation at the end, you should get such Discovery Phase Deliverables:
Vision and Goals;
Functional requirements: use cases for every feature;
Technological Stack (SA);
Expected infrastructure architecture (SA);
Plan of Timeframe;
Team and labor estimation (SA);
Risks and recommendations of elimination.
Main workflow screens, usually 10;
A visualization map that shows the relationship between design elements;
Animation and clickability: QA developers, testers, or clients can get the user experience, understand how they will behave, and explore whether the structure is not complex for the project.
Thanks to Discovery Phase Deliverables, you will receive a ready-made prototype of a new or updated issue. It will include the business component, ready-made solutions for design, marketing promotion, and software development.
Benefits of the Discovery Phase
1. A clear understanding of the scope and functionality of the future solution
By parsing the work scope, you can understand what you need to start a project, what specialists to hire, how much it will cost, and how long it will last.
2. Budget definition and project planning
The client at the first meeting should announce their budget and the scope of going beyond it. After discussing the main details, the specialists decide on the time and budget framework. You need to understand that it is better to spend money now than later three times more because of the endless bug fixes, restarts, and breakdowns of deadlines.
3. Risk assessment with a risk mitigation strategy
After discussing the main questions, you need to define the business goals. Usually, they are accompanied by certain risks: competitors, too complex user experience. Therefore, a joint effort is made to explore the market, write out the principal risks and use brainstorms to avoid them. The team has told you about all the risks; you have worked through them together and confidently moved on.
4. Cut costs due to clear vision, scope, risks, and priorities of project tasks
Many IT projects don’t stand up to the test of time, users, or criticism of investors, including the lack of implementation. It is the most tangible benefit of the Discovery Phase, as you will have specific documentation on all the business processes, estimates, and approximate project costs.
Many people don’t like to conduct this analysis because of the long analytical process and preparatory work. But the Discovery Phase Deliverables are saving money in the future for permanent improvements, attracting third-party experts, etc.
Why you need Discovery Phase
Discovery Phase is needed in all cases — software development and creation, but I can especially highlight such instances as:
A project at the concept stage with unclear non-functional requirements: don’t know what and don’t know where — the project idea is there, but the vision of implementation is not.
A project idea requires validation and proof of concept (PoC): if you need to finance a project, you should present it to managers or investors. Therefore, the Discovery Phase helps to make the initial version of the idea, which you can already present
The functional requirements need to be clarified and further detailed
The existing project is outdated, or you need the ability to scale: if you need to develop a project, specialists’ help is mandatory. The big problem is a blurry view of things. The team that makes the Discovery Phase will help you find new solutions and show a different perspective on project development.
If you are thinking about whether this method will help you or not, then most likely you need it. There are no cons in it: you will get a ready-made initial solution for the project, understand the implementation stages, and get a new vision of the idea.
Discovery Phase: to sum up
Discovery Phase is very important for any project — it is its thorough analysis and research of the idea. Thanks to such extensive and detailed work, you will have a tremendous amount of material for marketers, frontend, and backend developers. In-depth research will help you confidently dive into the active phase of the development and rollout demo version.
The benefits of the Discovery Phase are apparent: in a short time, you will learn everything about your project, improve it or create a new version. Following Agile development, you can quickly build a concept idea, develop a team of professionals and launch a successful project in the future. Therefore, if you doubt whether it is worth conducting it, my answer is definitely yes.