The Discovery Phase Is Crucial To Your Software Development Project and Here’s Why | Hacker Noon

Nowadays it’s unreasonable to start a software development project without preliminary comprehensive analysis. The discovery phase is an information-gathering procedure that provides an in-depth comprehension of the industry, the client’s business, and the target audience. It’s important to gain a profound understanding of the stakeholders’ anticipations of the product and your end-users’ expectations. The main aim of the preliminary analysis is to provide a quotation to the customer.

For this purpose, gather as many details as possible about the clients’ needs and put it in a separate document. All the details found in the course of the discovery will help you to scope and plan your project. In the end, you will benefit from the delivery of the state-of-art custom software product to your client. To deliver really cutting-edge products do not underestimate the discovery phase!

What do you need the analysis for?

  • To find out the motives, the aims, and the problems of the users.
  • To comprehend the context of product usage.
  • To find new ideas for product development and new insights.
  • To understand what are the users’ expectations and attitudes to the product.

How long should the discovery be?

For mid-sized projects — 1-2 weeks. For large projects — 3-4 weeks.

What you should do during the Discovery Phase?

During the Discovery Phase, you have to create a series of documents and schemes for future effective work on the project.

1. Lean Model Canvas

Firstly, a conceptual description of the future product business model for MVP is created in the form of a diagram describing all business processes related to the product: proposal, infrastructure, consumers and financial aspect.

2. Customer Journey Map

In addition, a «map» of customer communication with the product is created. This is a visual scheme of the user interaction with the product, which includes all the proposed points and channels of such interaction, as well as the client’s visualized experience, with his thoughts, emotions, goals, motives, fears on the way to achieving the result taken into consideration.

3. User Flow

To determine how the user will interact with the interface of the new product, User Flow is created in the form of schematic screens of the software solution and transitions between them. Thus, the user behavior scenarios are projected through the visual interface prototypes.

4. User Stories

A brief description of how the system will be used describes functional requirements for the system and its acceptance criteria. User Stories allow the team to effectively prioritize the implementation of product functionality.

5. Product Vision

This document, describing the general objectives of the project and the proposed solution, allows a better understanding of the product creating goals, potential, and future prospects. Product Vision is useful to all the parties involved in the development — developers, staff, marketing department, etc.

6. Non-functional requirements

Our team also issues recommendations regarding the properties of the system or limitations that are not related to the behavior of the system — the optimal technology stack, infrastructure architecture, and expected load.

What are the main benefits of a Discovery Phase?

The benefits of the preliminary analysis and research are in fact multiple.

Quite often you face startups that have an idea but do not have a deep understanding of what the project should be like and which components it should contain. It’s likely that the team experiences difficulties understanding what the future users really need. Besides, due to the lack of technical background, the team often fails to make a comprehensive list of the required software elements.

The research is conducted by your business analyst, designer, and CTO. They communicate to the customer, find out the requirements and analyze the market. Later on, they make the project description. Such an approach minimizes the number of alterations in the development process because the scope of the project is defined along with the other key factors such as the type of solutions, features, and functionalities required, best platforms to be used, timeframes to fit in and costs to match.

By identifying all the details in advance, you gains a number of benefits. The main of them are:

  1. Honing of the idea and the essence of the project, based on real analysis.
  2. Finding out certain project aspects, which have not been taken into consideration initially.
  3. Customers’ expectations and problems comprehension, based on the competitors’ products research.
  4. The opportunity to get an expert evaluation of the project and the ways it can be brought to life as well as an additional insight into the alternative solutions and technologies offered by the contractor.
  5. Creating a clear list of user stories for the project.
  6. Avoiding the need of making costly changes during the development process.
  7. Achieving the balance between the business goals of a client and the needs and wants of the users.
  8. Getting the possibility to understand if the contractor is a good fit for the client’s expectations, how comfortable the interaction between them is and the opportunity to make the final decision as to future cooperation.

You have to always perform the expert evaluation of how the project fits into your present infrastructure and operational processes and recommend changes, improvements or updates if they are necessary.

An additional bonus, which a client may receive as a result of the discovery phase, is the clear project quotation with the scope and plan of works required and proper cost estimation. With such a document you can turn to the potential investors and get funding easier.

Through discovery, you lay the ground for the great project experience, and provide valuable software solutions customized for your needs.

Previously published at https://stfalcon.com/en/blog/post/discovery-phase

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