Why Is a Discovery Phase Essential for Project Success?

Lilya Khimchenko

Lilya Khimchenko

CMO

Bold ideas appear on the software market every day. If you also have one, embracing the discovery phase is a must. The thing is, many tech startups emerge, but lots of them fail to succeed.

CB Insights states that 35% of new businesses cannot serve a market need, canceling or putting their projects on hold. It’s not your way if you want your product to thrive.

The discovery process will help you test your idea and find a market for your product in the IT industry. Want to learn how to do it? Keep reading our post on how to start the project right.

As a company with five-year experience delivering digital solutions, Arounda knows everything about project discovery. Drawing on our in-depth expertise, we’ll share tips and a checklist for setting off your product successfully.

What Is a Discovery Phase?

The discovery stage is the starting point for product development. It’s the process of collecting and analyzing data about your project and determining its target audience and market. Other project discovery phase activities include specifying your product’s goals, strengths, and weaknesses.

"You can adjust the concept of your project to the needs of real users and find your product-market fit."

The discovery phase’s primary purpose is to test your idea’s viability and support your assumptions with data-based arguments. In this way, you can adjust the concept of your project to the needs of real users and find your product-market fit.

As part of the discovery process, project requirements are also determined. These are the characteristics without which your product is hardly possible to implement. They include:

  • Business requirements and product vision

  • System requirements, i.e., product’s features, tech stack, and architecture

  • Design requirements

  • Product budget requirements

  • Product development roadmap

A project manager, business analyst, software developer, and UI/UX designer typically work on your project at this early stage:

  • The discovery phase project management consists of planning tasks related to researching your product idea and checking their timely implementation.

  • The discovery phase business analysis is an indispensable component of this stage, as it directly relates to researching the market and target audience and drawing up relevant business requirements.

  • Software developers at this stage will help select tech solutions that meet your product’s goals and requirements.

  • A UI/UX designer will help you study the needs of your target audience regarding your software’s usability and general look.

At the end of this stage, you’ll get:

  • System requirements specifications

  • UX prototype

  • MVP development plan

  • Project estimates

All these solutions will help you test your idea in practice, understand where your project is heading, and avoid many pitfalls along the way.

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Why Is a Discovery Phase Critical for Your Project?

Companies often get so excited about the digital product development process that they forget about the most significant thing: the discovery stage. Why is this phase so important, and what advantages does it have for businesses? Find out further.

Making Your Product Market-Driven

You refine your idea based on facts and data during the discovery process. Now you are not just headlong into the market, relying only on your feelings and judgments. Instead, you clearly understand the industry and your audience’s requirements.

Keeping Your Users in Mind

Researching your target audience brings you several benefits at once. First, you identify the problems and pain points of your potential users. Second, you take better care of your product’s user experience. As a result, you may provide your audience with practical software they want to use.

Saving Your Money

The project discovery is all about a thought-out process of bringing your idea to life. Before starting development, you determine all product requirements: technologies, features, and design characteristics and, accordingly, their cost. This way, you can avoid unexpected expenses, plan your budget immediately, and even make the development cheaper.

Managing Risks

The discovery process will help you avoid many risks associated with the development and launch of your project. It’s because you will know about your product’s limitations in advance and can think of ways to balance them.

Creating Your Product’s Prototypes

The discovery stage also involves developing the prototypes of your future software solution. Prototypes help you test your idea in practice and see ways to improve it. Examples include testing the usability or functionality of your product.

Setting a Clear Roadmap

Once again, the discovery phase is about planning with a focus on the future. You think through your product journey with all the requirements, goals, deliverables, and timelines. It significantly simplifies your team’s work and gives you confidence in what you are doing.

Core Discovery Phase Steps You Should Keep in Mind

We mentioned a lot about the activities in the discovery phase. But in what order do we organize all these processes to get quality results? Check out our step-by-step guide.

Step 1. Determine Stakeholders and Their Needs

Before you start building your software, you need to gather a team. Stakeholders are product owners, developers, project managers, business analysts, designers, and others involved in the development process. Share your idea with the team and listen to their suggestions.

Step 2. Examine Internal Resources and Available Research

Before doing any new research, study what you already have (if any). These can be existing documents, user interviews, etc. Provide this information to business analysts for a thorough examination.

Step 3. Conduct Business Analysis

Now you need to collect and analyze the new information. In particular, your team works on:

  • Competitor research. Your team searches for direct and indirect competition based on your product idea. Researching your competitors will help you identify innovative opportunities and ways to make your software stand out from the crowd.

  • Audience research. Your team also studies the needs of your target audience. Experts do this through interviews, questionnaires, reviews, etc., i.e., tangible information from real users.

  • Business research. If you outsource discovery phase activities to a third-party contractor, it would be reasonable to familiarize them with your business: your company’s history, internal processes, etc.

Step 4. Define Requirements and Tools

At this step, your team moves on to finding practical solutions to bring your idea to life.

Developers offer the technology stack, features, and architecture of your product. As a result, you formulate clear system requirements for your software and develop an MVP plan.

Designers, in turn, work on prototypes of your digital product design. This way, you will have a screen and a user flow together with a basic interface version. You can test this prototype among users to confirm your assumptions and expected results. For this, your team prepares tasks, lists of questions, and cases and conducts interviews with real users.

Step 5. Set Budget and Timelines & Create a Product Roadmap

Finally, based on all the information you have gathered about your product, it is time to calculate its cost and determine the terms of implementation. It’s worth considering any bottlenecks that can slow your project's realization and affect its price and timelines.

You must also create a product roadmap to be your clear step-by-step development plan. It’s not just a clear strategy for your software creation but also a plan for its future improvement and growth. With all this, you can start with what comes after discovery phase.

The Project Discovery Phase Checklist

Use this checklist to ensure you don’t overlook any details throughout the discovery process. This way, you will be confident that you have done all the necessary research to move forward with creating your product. Here are the main things to pay attention to:

  • Business (your goals, target audience, existing research, and documentation)

  • Current offerings (digital products available on the market and user interaction with them)

  • Market (white papers, online and offline research, additional industry information)

  • Competition (primary and secondary competition, unique selling propositions, strengths and weaknesses of competitors)

  • Target audience (all information about your potential users)

  • Marketing (your current marketing strategy, branding)

  • Current product (if any, then pay attention to user feedback, technology stack and features, usability, and product content)

  • Technical requirements (system requirements like product features, tech stack)

Final Thoughts

The project discovery phase is the key to its further proper implementation and success. It is an opportunity for you to check the viability of your idea before starting its execution.

The discovery process not only saves you from risks and unnecessary expenditures. It allows you to find a product-market fit and get a loyal audience that is perfect for you. You also get visible deliverables, namely prototypes and a clear development plan.

If you want to increase your product’s chances of success, Arounda can help. Our experienced specialists are ready to create a strategy and project brief for you. Contact us, and let’s go through the discovery process together.

Lilya Khimchenko
I make sure our clients get the high-quality result from the beginning stage of the idea discovery & strategy to the final digital product.

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