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How project discovery phase can increase your project success rate

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What do you usually do before buying a phone, or any other device, for example? We bet you are searching for any information about the device you want to buy, reading users’ reviews and expert reviews, comparing technical characteristics, and other necessary things. 

The same concept is implied before starting software development, as you need to conduct detailed multi-step research that can cover all the angles of the future software. And when you go blind to developing the software without a proper project discovery phase, it can cause unpleasant consequences

What is a Project Discovery Phase, and what goals does it pursue?

Thanks to the comparison described above, you probably have caught the idea, but let’s define the project discovery phase more deeply. 

The Project Discovery phase is the process of gathering information to get a proper understanding of the client’s needs and expectations  regarding the software, to further analyze that information to clarify project goals and define the scope of work. All that information can turn the curve of the development requirements in the right direction to be sure that the end software will meet all the expectations users can have. It is important as according to the CBInsights, 42% of startups fail due to misreading market demand. 

Who conducts Project Discovery Phase?

It is not the process where you can play solo, as there is a need for each specialty representative who further will be working on the project.

  • Project Manager

The Project Manager (PM) is a so-called bridge between the development team and the client, as it saves precious time on communication between these two parts. Moreover, the PM’s mission is to plan a working process with divided tasks and control how the process proceeds. 

  • Business Analyst

A big share of the project discovery phase is researching – what makes a Business Analyst an irreplaceable specialist here. A Business Analyst conducts well-detailed research to develop relevant business requirements that now can be competitive in the market and satisfy users’ needs. This work is significant and vital for the software as high-quality requirements directly impact if the product will be successful or not

In our company, Business Analysts can also research requirements for the UI/UX design and develop the design concept (prototypes) of the software for users according to their needs.

  • Software Developers

Developers are responsible for transforming ideas and requirements into fully working and usable software. That is why it is necessary to conduct project discovery with the developers or Tech Lead on board to get an instant consultation if one or another idea is technically possible to realize or even get some advice on how to realize a certain client’s request in terms of software engineering.

Reasons to conduct the project discovery phase

Money saving

Show us a person who does not want to save a budget? With well-structured documentation, requirements, and a professional team who knows its job, you will save a fortune thanks to the project discovery phase.

Risk management

You are foreseeing and working on all the possible risks that can emerge before they show up. That means a lot, as many projects fail due to poor risk management.

Team and idea formation

Most people think that their idea is complete when they only come up to their mind, but it is not. Only after a project discovery phase will you get a completed idea with a solid vision of the final product. Besides, it is perfect when you can select all the necessary specialists for the project, so you can form the team that covers all the project needs.

What are possible challenges without a proper project discovery phase?

Now you know what you will get when conducting the project discovery phase, and next, we will show you what challenges and issues can emerge without it:

  • uncertainty if features are good due to lack of information
  • unplanned changes during software development that makes the process longer and more expensive
  • product fails to meet users’ needs and expectations
  • misinterpretation of the scope and requirements by the tea

Separate or together, all these challenges can seriously damage or fail software project development, so it is up to you if it is worth the risk of ignoring the proper project discovery phase.

Steps of Project discovery phase

You should understand that steps can differ according to your needs and plans, so all the steps below are an example of steps that can be. 

But still, to get the most out of  project discovery and understand how it works, it’s worth considering the whole process in detail and dividing it into steps that are typically followed by the involved software development team.

  1. Gather and analyze information

The step when you need to care about the vital information that helps to form a complete vision of a future successful product. During this step, development team should:

  • conduct market analysis
  • write well-written user stories
  • check out competitors and analyze them to compare them with your product
  • involve stakeholders in presenting the analysis results so every interested side takes part in planning the product roadmap and scope of work
  1. Present all the information

When you store all the gathered info in different documents in a chaotical way, you do not see the whole picture. Project Manager can use tools like a Mind map or presentations to visualize and present information to the client. 

  1. Create requirements using all the information you have
  2. Make Proof-of-Concept 

A small interactive prototype helps understand if the concept can be realized technically and how the software feels in action. The excellent method allowing to use and feel the software before fully developing it.

  1. Outline timelines and budget

It is a crucial step where the Project Manager together with the team must define the timeline needed for the development, including all the possible challenges or issues that can emerge during the development process.

When you have a defined timeline, plan the budget to have the cost of every stage of the development. If due to some reasons it is complicated to plan the budget, then project estimation is the best way to get an accurate estimate of the software development cost.

  1. Agree next steps with the client

After finishing the project discovery phase, discuss with the client the starting of the development process. During this step the client can suggest changes or ideas, so it is important to agree on everything before starting developing the project.

What type of projects need the project discovery phase the most?

Some projects need to perform the project discovery phase more than others. To define whether you are in the list or not, consider the following factors:

  • Your idea of software lacks specifics

It happens when you have a common idea of smth, described by a few sentences maybe, but no details without which you cannot develop it. In this case, the project discovery phase is obligatory if you want to build decent software.

  • The project requires specific knowledge and expertise

When the project requires any tech expertise and a client has no such thing, it becomes an almost unbearable challenge without the external help of experts. 

  • You have no option for failing

Sometimes the project can be vital for the business, and failing the project development means failing the whole business sometimes. In that case, you better assure that everything will go right for 100%, so the project discovery phase can add a significant percentage to the success. 

In sum, we have an excellent phase that enhances software development process in overall as well as increases the chances of end software

become successful and profitable for you as a client. During the project discovery phase, you will understand the product deeper, its process, and its benefits. If you use it wisely, you will feel how software development becomes smoother and more productive.

References:

cbinsights.com

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