IntroWhat is Discovery stage? And why is it so important for software development at any type of project? Let’s discover now. Discovery stage in IT aims to follow the way from the theoretical concept to factual realization. It requires understanding, collection, and systematization of the customer’s requirements, performed by the product team member and/or business representative. Initially, the goal and project overview are shared during the acquaintance meetings. Without this basic knowledge no idea will work. For successful realization, research on the target audience’s needs, and an analysis of the product benefits for potential users is crucial. No doubts, the discovery stage is a base for any project. It can be performed at different life periods of the project / circumstances. For detailed information see this article.
Discovery Stage ComponentsThe Discovery Stage consists of: Business goals’ establishment. Setting goals is a major and fundamental step in the future development. It allows highlighting the key points and shaping the basis for the outcome. Successful outcome understanding. It is not an easy deal to grasp the desired outcome. In this regard, a business analyst (or a product team member) has to think first about the goal and all advantages the stakeholder intends to obtain. And it is more likely – profit and customer acquisition. Carrying out user research & analyzing the competitors. Once the goals are defined, it’s time to think over the visualization. User research focuses on understanding their behavior, needs, and motivations. Various observation techniques, analysis and other feedback methodologies are used for this purpose. At this step, prototypes and rough design is prepared. Also, refinement of a product is performed. The representatives of the product team along with designers and engineers work together in all stages of product creation/planning and idealization. Customer journey mapping. We prepare a diagram for illustrating the steps which customer(s) go through while engaging with the product. The process is based on a detailed analysis of the needs and behavior of the audience. The output supposes to increase the number of users, who are satisfied by using the product.
Benefits (outcome)What benefits will you earn after the Discovery Stage? When all steps are completed and the picture of the product is clear, a product team representative creates a PBS (Product breakdown structure). It aims to outline the deliverables to be developed and do a rough estimation of the project correspondingly. The outcome of the Discovery Stage is: set of tasks breakdown list, approximate budget and project duration, as well as the roadmap and prototypes. All the aforementioned items make a clear profit formula for your product:
- Expenses are less and the budget is properly planned
- Scope and goals of your product are well understood
- You know your customers’ needs and pain points
- You receive a unique value proposition and defined market positioning
- Ability to make your product better and make competitors to fall behind due their weaknesses
Avoiding RisksMany companies and stakeholders neglect the Discovery Stage, relying on their own vision, opinion and confidence. So, if the Discovery Stage is ignored and development is started right away – you risk releasing a product without market demand and increase the chances of a product pivot. Since the price of risk may be extremely high for both sides, Customer and Contractor, let’s provide the list of examples of what might happen if the decision to start a Discovery Stage was not taken beforehands. On behalf of the Customer, the following issues may arise:
- Contractors do not obtain clearly set tasks and understanding of the outcome, however, theoretically they might accept the idea.
- Opportunity to find out the best performance option is missing, since there are no documents, developed within the Discovery Stage. This also leads to the impossibility of holding a tender.
- Project budget is not clear and does not have precise estimations. It is crucial for contractors, as when admitting that the project overwhelmed the budget, they won’t have a desire and enthusiasm to work well.
- Accepting the project becomes a tough work: detailed documentation and clearly set goals are fundamentals for completing the project.
- Discovery Stage results in reducing the risks during estimations. This will later allow avoiding the project failure of going beyond the budget plan (losing profit).
- Technological risks avoiding. Choosing architecture, resources and technologies for reducing those risks, which affect the scope of work.
- Gaining expertise for a later usage. Isn’t it great that the company is already aware of the business domain and is ready to provide you the needed output in short terms? In this way, time value of money is vital.