Planning a project for a widescale organization? Or dealing with a startup application? Whichever is your case, your software development plan shall include the discovery stage. The thing is that in the process of software development, even the smallest misunderstandings can eventually cause serious unfavorable results, like, budget exceeding, deadlines missing, etc.
When it comes to few-people teams, communication can be easily established, so all the changes are quickly implemented and adapted to. However, for better risk management, it’s vital for all parties concerned to timely provide their input to get a clear understanding of possible restrictions, as well as the overall vision. The project discovery process sets up essential collaboration making sure that during every stage of the project, the final goal doesn’t change and serves for a business to provide certain values.
In the best-case scenario, it makes sense to engage all the stakeholders. Under “stakeholders” we imply every person involved in the project, from all team members to diverse experts and final customers. To ensure greater outcome multiple points have to be considered, allowing you to go over tech feasibility, build comprehensive business requirements, hear the views of end-users.
Preferably, all specialists engaged in the development shall participate in the discovery phase, particularly:
- Project Manager
- Solution Architector
- UX Designers
- Business Analytics
- QA staff
- Client representatives.
Speaking of UX designers, their input into the process is extremely vital. The right way to success would be to combine the discovery activities with the design part, so far-sighted entrepreneurs arrange dedicated workshops in order to thoroughly discuss all critical details, say, project vision, motivations of everyone involved, specific requirements to remember about, and the like.
It might sound pretty obvious, but still, we shall empathize that when it comes to discovering the most substantial person is the client himself (or herself). Meaning, if you’re the one who’s ordering software development services, you, being a product owner, also play the role of the client. And, you yourself, in turn, are beholden to the people who your digital product is designed for.
While working on discovery, you shall not be shy to share your thoughts and insights with people who are realizing your project. That would be the perfect timing to modify the original business plan, if needed. The process can become pretty exciting since you’ll speak about fresh ideas and key functionality of the future product. Here, it’s critical for you and the designing team to put enough effort and take this stage seriously not to miss any essential details, or add something unnecessary.
Moreover, running discovery activities shall allow you to distinguish the requirements which are not that obvious, so maybe something critical wasn’t defined initially.
The value of Discovery
The discovery process is exactly what you need to clearly set and negotiate the goals you establish for your project. Any possible ambiguities shall be clarified to avoid mistakes during the development. As you understand, if a defect is detected at an earlier stage, it’ll be easier and faster to fix the issue. The discovery stage serves as an ideal time to identify all the requirements and clear up possible misunderstandings. Moreover, such activities build a culture of coherent communication which is critical to ensure the success of the enterprise.
When product owners decide to skip the discovery phase, they start collecting users’ feedback when it’s kind of late since the website or app will already be in the process of development, so the targeted audience might consider the software to lose the fang.
If final customers are engaged from the very beginning, meaning, during the discovery phase, or even earlier, there are pretty high chances that the final product will manage to fully deliver its values. Feedback received from the audience shall adjust the project direction, making sure that initial goals and the value are clear for future users. In case the feedback is provided closer to the end, everything done will have to be modified and re-done, potentially resulting in multiple issues. When users get involved at early stages, you’ll only need to revise the requirements, and not the code itself, so you’ll prevent unnecessary waste of money and time.
What’s the outcome?
Eventually, when the discovery stage has been carried out, you’ll have a clear understanding of your project vision, goals, as well as requirements to be on the same page with everyone involved. Usually, those results are documented in the form of User Stories, Software Requirements Specification, User Personas, and Acceptance Criteria. There could be more supporting documentation subject to your project nature.
This tool serves to organize and properly document every single aspect of functionality. Together with Acceptance Criteria, it allows you to outline the details on how to introduce each function. When it concerns big-scale projects, the development team shall take care of acceptance criteria and user stories as soon as discovery activities are complete. Dealing with discovery, the key objective is to determine business goals, as well as to make a good number of user stories for a successful project start.
After you conclude the discovery phase, you could smoothly go right ahead. Properly completed discovery will help the design team to better create a user experience able to comprehensively meet the needs and expectations of the targeted audience. As for the development, discovery will provide clear requirements, allowing your specialists to build a product in a more effective way.