Discovery Phase in Software Product Development

If you are thinking of owning a business led by Digital technology, this article is going to help you quite well to understand the importance of the discovery phase in product development.

6 mins read
Jun 3, 2022

If you are thinking of owning a business led by Digital technology, this article is going to help you quite well to understand the importance of the discovery phase in product development. According to the The Chaos Report approx. 2/3rd projects fail majorly due to wrong scheduling, budgeting, late delivery, poor quality and the main attribute behind all these reasons is Project Discovery.

Though finding the answers of each WHY will lead you to develop your business app in a better way but if you considerably focus on the discovery phase, especially for determining the best possible solutions, reducing risk & cost, preparing accurate estimates, analyzing market, stakeholders and end users’ perspective then believe me it will create the better road map for meeting the business objective.

Why discovery phase is important in software development

Discovery is the first phase of developing the right digital products. At this phase of software development, you not just determine and eliminate the potential development risks but also set a clear understanding of What to Do and How to do for a successful product development start. It becomes essential when a project is large & complex and requirements are not clear. Its intensity increases when you have a limited budget.

Why in software development

It could be optional for some vendors but successful product development should be a mandatory phase to be involved as It helps teams to find out the real scope, users, business goals, limitations, impact, effort, cost and value proposition. During the software development process the team can encounter many scenarios which may be costly and unnecessary if discovery is not performed properly. It could be anything like mismatched requirements, wrong solutions, bad decisions etc. So, the better informed development team will be, the better solutions will be delivered without wasting time, effort, and cost.

Main activities

Market Research

Market Research

This can be your first activity. A proper research on need, competitors, business model, user segment will help you to identify your space thus help you to have must have features and unique solutions. A proper study about the market and its needs will help you to brief your idea with other stakeholders like Business analysts and investors who eventually will play a crucial role for the success of the project.

Concrete Idea

Concrete Idea

Before jumping into development with your technical vendor, you should have a clear vision of how things will get into shape. A proper homework will mature your thought process thus will help you to manage anxiety caused by the whole time taking process.

Define the Goal

Define the Goal

This action will help you to identify your business objective and solution to achieve maximum success. This will also help your tech stakeholders to understand the project expectations and align well with project vision to ensure successful delivery of the product.

Define requirements

Define Requirements

SRS is the documented functional requirements. It describes the behavior of the system’s functions. In other words, it describes what the software should do. Though this is the task of a BA to draft an SRS document for you, but a high level requirement description should be drafted at your side. It will help you to organize the requirements.

Start with Prototype

Start with Prototype

Prototype at your level is just to demonstrate the idea into visible form, no one expects a clean and working prototype to you. A sketch/wireframe depicting your idea will help others to understand and validate your idea. Based on the sketches, the UI team can draw real prototypes which can be further tested with real users.

Get an idea of the cost

Get an Idea of Cost

Get an idea of cost for product development, mostly product owners focused on customer values and come up with a lot of ideas without getting to know the cost of transformation. This creates a mismatch between expectation and reality. So for any solutions get a cost estimate with your technical vendor.

You must include some experienced and capable resources from development partner side for research activity-
Choose a capable & reliable team which initially includes Business Analyst, UI/UX Expert and Solutions Architect. Let’s understand how important their research is before starting the actual development.
BA- is the person who has suitable knowledge and experience of a particular business domain, he/she understands the expectations and plays a crucial role to understand the high level business requirements and can help to decompose them into functional requirements/User stories. Tech Experts/Architects- BA and UI folks can transform the idea into functional requirements and design but to check the technical feasibility, deep discovery is needed. So, engaging a strong team of technical experts at this stage will ensure success. These experts can help you to analyze technical feasibility, can compare and choose the best architecture, database and required services.
UI/UX designer- helps to visualize the functional requirements as web-page/wireframes, this helps you to understand the product visuals and behavior before actual implementation. Other Stakeholders- Don’t forget to include stakeholder in discovery phase, they hold very important information about the market, users, processes, infrastructure and non functional requirements.

As a development partner how we carry our discovery phase in product development

As a reliable development partner we consider this very important phase. For us this is the first stage of the software development process. Here are few examples how our discovery helped to built great SAAS applications:

1. FP&A Product
A client from the strong Financial Analysis & Planning domain came to us with an idea of a SAAS app which can change the dynamics of the finance service provider’s working model. Being a new kind of domain, first we went with him to understand the financial services’ processes and terms, and developed a proof of concept to validate the functional as well as technical side by creating UI prototypes. Cleared the scope which was more than 10 times from client’s imagination, gave him a real idea of actual effort, performed the user testing then moved to MVP development. Discovery played an important role to define scopes, expectations, effort, cost and best fit tech stack.

2. USA PowerPlant
Five years ago a client from the USA Power sector came to us with a very ignited idea of having a Crunchbase of Power Sector domain which ultimately is going to consume 100+TB of data and a lot of resources. We as a technical partner validated his idea on technical grounds.. Considering the cost, user acceptance and feasibility analysis we suggested and proposed best in class solutions as well as changes in his requirements which saved his thousands of dollars. After validating his idea using wireframes/prototyping we moved for actual development.

Benefits you can expect from Discovery phase

If you really want to save your time and money, you must go and insist on the discovery phase.
Nowadays time is money, any wrong interpretation, miscommunication and non feasible solutions can turn your product into a liability. Budget is one of the reasons for failing any startup/product development and businesses. Discovering about market, users, correct technology and best fit technical partner considering your budget will benefit you a lot such as –

  • A well defined requirement and acceptance criteria.
  • Low cost for development
  • Low cost for maintenance
  • Low client retention and ease of doing business
  • Less worries and more peace of mind.

Conclusion

For any custom software development, the discovery phase is very imperative, you should always consider it as a significantly important approach to ensure successful product development. If any developer or software firm jumps directly into development without going through proper discovery or not suggesting the importance of research and analysis at your end, they must be unaware of the actual software development processes or there are high chances of encountering failure during the development process. Research about your idea, market, and users is required by you and your technology partner to ensure the overall project success.

Product Development

Rajnish Gupta

Business Dev Manager

Specializing in business development, Rajnish has more than a decade of experience in the software industry. Being a passionate business development manager, he always ensures the company develops strong, enduring relationships with all the clients and provides them with the best possible solutions for their product development challenges. With his great relationship-building capabilities and research-oriented approaches, he has always proposed the best solutions to propel innovative business ideas bringing positive revenue results to our partners. Besides his extensive experience, he also holds an engineering degree - B. Tech in Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) and vendor certifications like .net, OCJP, and Agile.

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