The Project Discovery Phase or How to Avoid Failure

Most entrepreneurs appreciate the main software development project phases, such as design, code writing, testing, deployment, and support. But what about the Project Discovery Phase?

Discovery Phase is the most underrated stage that can appear to be much more important than all the others combined.

Very often, the discovery phase of the project is associated with unnecessary costs and occasionally, with saving tens of thousands of dollars. However, the project discovery phase is all about money-wise product development.

What is the Discovery Phase?

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Discovery involves:

  • Deep analysis of the product idea;
  • Review of product requirements;
  • Evaluation of all the possible challenges & solutions. 
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The goal of the Project Discovery Phase

In essence, the goal of the discovery phase is to build a bridge between the idea and its best possible implementation.

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As a result of the above-mentioned discovery research, the development team provides a client with:

  • Software requirements specification (SRS Document)
  • Technology stack
  • Platform architecture
  • Product functionality
  • User journey
  • Wireframes
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Benefits of the Discovery Phase

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A solid development plan

The discovery phase of the project helps to dispel uncertainties BEFORE the development has started. This stage provides the project with a clear purpose and the right direction for the project development: it foresees challenges, finds the best solutions, and gives precise estimations.

Laser-focus on user needs

Users are the ones who will buy. So, this means a user’s needs are a top priority when defining the core functionality of the product. 

Beginning the project, our team starts with identifying the user roles. By analyzing the target audience, our development team helps to classify it, get a picture of basic users’ abilities, and creates a user flow.

Budget Planning

Planning every aspect of a project, the founders reduce the risks of such hidden surprises as additional costs. During the discovery phase of a software project, a team decides on the most suitable technology stack and core features estimate the development effort and predict the time of the project launch.

Finding the Perfect Team

Want to test drive a team?

That is another benefit of running a software development discovery phase with future developers. This phase is really content-rich and able to show the company processes, how the team works, and whether their approach is suitable for the company.

If the agency isn’t a good fit for long-standing cooperation, it’s better to know sooner rather than later, right?

A good part here is that you can always take the results of your discovery phase of a project and go on with other software developers, taking the discovery phase results as a basis.

Project Discovery Phase as a Killer Pitch Deck

Every startupper knows that investors love numbers.

But the struggle with numbers is real.

The discovery phase provides founders with a lot of information needed for investors to evaluate the project. The more numbers and calculations there are, the more transparent and desirable the pitch deck is going to be.

Examples of how ignoring the project discovery phase have led startups to fail:

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  • Dinnr, a London-based company that delivered ingredients with recipes to prepare a meal at home, shut down after two years of operation and raising £60K during a seed round.

Michal Bohanes, one of the founders, reveals the reason for their failure:

  • Another company that failed over the lack of research is Juicero, a Silicon Valley startup that focused on selling home cold-pressed juicing systems. It appeared that the functionality of the product wasn’t carefully thought through, plus the product price appeared to be pretty high. 

All these problems could have been overcome if only they had conducted the necessary discovery research on their idea and the market.

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How We Conduct the Discovery Phase at Sloboda Studio

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At Sloboda Studio we pay great attention to the planning stages of a project. The software development discovery phase in a project is an initial phase and actually vectors the whole process. 

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Defining the Goals

At the very beginning of the discovery stage, our team establishes the problem that the project aims to solve. We determine the current state of the product and hear out the requirements.

This phase calls for a lot of questions:

  • Problem-solving: What is a problem that your product solves? Is it a HOT issue? 
  • Time-to-market: Does the time play an important role in a project launch?
  • Competition: What is the situation in the market? Who are the competitors? 
  • Differentiation: What is the Unique Value Proposition (UVP) of the solution?
  • Revenue model: How are you going to monetize your project?
  • Promotion: What is the plan for acquiring customers?
  • Target audience: Who is the target audience? 
  • Investment: Is there a plan for fundraising or bootstrapping?
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Market Research

During the next step of the discovery phase of the project, we conduct a comparative analysis of direct and indirect competitors and find out if a product has any analogs on the market. 

This kind of research gives developers an understanding of what kind of functionality competitors’ products have, which of the features of competitors’ products would also be essential for the project and which ones should be omitted.

After performing competitor research, we move over to user research. In doing discovery research on the target audience, we lay the groundwork for the next stage.

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Customer Journey Map

Here at Sloboda Studio, our team creates a prioritized list of job stories.

We all have a number of tasks that need to be done, whether it’s to get a kid to school or to do grocery shopping. Likewise, users have different roles while using a product.

Our team considers all the users’ needs and figures out the greatest possible number of users’ jobs this particular product helps to solve. All this work is done to create the user flow that would fit the market.

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UX Concept & Wireframes

The previous step gives us a quick kickstart to creating a high-level vision of layouts. In essence, we build wireframes that depict the user experience approach, then create the design and mockups. 

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Technical Solutions

At the final stage of the discovery phase of a project, our development team plans the product architecture and breaks down a product’s functionality into several milestones for better, easier, and more agile discovery phase planning of the development process. 

The features are prioritized by their value. Those features that are most likely to be affected by market changes are left for later development.

Besides this, we come up with the optimal technology stack according to the defined core features of the product and its budget.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, every startup’s goal is to see its business grow, expand, and become successful. 

Sometimes startuppers tend to put their heart and soul solely into an idea. They forget to think of the details. That’s when they get into trouble and the project implementation gets chaotic and unstructured. Whether we like it or not – success is not only about the idea, sometimes it is all about the proper implementation.

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