Approximately one in every three software development projects, the overall budget exceeds significantly, while timelines are also missed. These issues may be attributed to a variety of factors, ranging from unreasonable expectations and cost projections to insufficient planning and management. However, there is one industry-standard strategy for avoiding failures, anticipating potential difficulties, and mitigating risks, i.e., the software development discovery phase.
In this complete guide, we will focus on the software development discovery phase. We will discuss why this is critical and how it impacts project results and profitability. Additionally, you will learn a step-by-step procedure and deliverables associated with Discovery Phase. Finally, we will demonstrate how executing a discovery phase during web development affects product strategy and assists in the design and development of high-quality software.
Introduction to Software Development Discovery Phase
In the simplest words, it’s the preliminary stage of the software development project. At this stage, you need to focus on a number of aspects that could be applicable to your project. They include:
- The necessary due diligence
- Analyze your competitors
- Research your target audience
- Gather industry insights and best practices
- Explore technology and business prospects
In addition, during the software development discovery phase, you gather requirements, prioritize them, and build a roadmap from concept to launch.
Members of the Team
The following experts are involved in the discovery phase of software development.
Stakeholders and Domain Experts
They are critical during the discovery phase since they give context for the project and necessary industry knowledge. They include executive managers, product owners, marketers, project specialists, and subject experts. They inform about the project’s objectives, define the overall needs and expectations, offer context for the environment, infrastructure, and audience, exchange ideas and examples.
They are involved in all phases of the discovery process, most notably competitive analysis, audience research, and product vision development. They bring significant expertise, knowledge, and the best practices in the industry to the table and make a significant contribution to understanding people and their objectives and producing a successful user experience.
CTO, Engineer & Architect
Engaging a strong technical team is critical to the success of software development. After all, you’re constructing a digital infrastructure. These professionals collect and evaluate technical requirements and, by using their knowledge of framework comparison, assist in selecting the most appropriate platforms and solutions. A technical team may deconstruct an undeveloped system into functional components and figure out its design and logic.
Business Analyst (BA) & Project Manager (PM)
They are at the bottom of the list, yet they’re the first to act in this phase. BA examines the objectives of a project and its growth prospects. A PM establishes communication between all stakeholders, ensures that customers and suppliers are all on the same page, that all needs and components are considered, and that expectations are satisfied.
Key Steps in Software Development Discovery Phase
The software development discovery phase might take a few weeks or many months, depending on the scope of the project. Typically, it is summarized in the following four straightforward phases.
You need to undertake many interviews with the customer and subject specialists to ascertain the software’s idea. You can elicit info about competitors, audience, current infrastructure, project needs, and any other piece of info that might assist in comprehending stakeholders’ goals. If a client has conducted early research, you can use these findings to get a more holistic understanding of the project and its possible scope.
With this part, you can enlist the project’s major contributors on your side, i.e., business analysts, lead technology and design specialists, and management. You can do a thorough examination of the supplied data and undertake research. Also, you can do research on the target audience, current market situation, competitors, latest trends and practices, brand characteristics, existing infrastructure, and the third-party platforms and solutions for the project.
Transparency and communication are critical throughout a project’s lifecycle, and the discovery phase is no exception. Having described the project’s needs and findings, you can convene a workshop with major stakeholders as well as the analytics team to agree on the scope, go through the specifics, and ensure that everyone is aligned. In this way, you can easily get to define the deliverables in a systematic fashion.
Now, it’s time for you to prepare all paperwork, reports, and other deliverables. Typically, you can conduct one or two more workshops with the client and stakeholders to convey the findings of your study, explain the recommended approach, and provide a roadmap for software development.
You will get the following deliverables at the end of your software development discovery phase. However, it’s dependent on a variety of circumstances and available resources:
I: User Portfolio
The user portfolio section explains the personas that reflect the system’s potential users, their qualities, ambitions, and needs. Thus, this document contains the information necessary for delivering an exceptional user experience.
These reports contain competitive and market research results and professional advice on how to outperform rivals and meet market demands.
III: Goal Statement
It describes the project’s objectives, presents a comprehensive vision, and highlights the system’s primary benefits.
IV: Documented Requirements
Detailed and prioritized project requirements cover all functional and non-functional needs. It illustrates how the product may progress from a prototype to a minimum viable product and finally to a fully-fledged product.
V: Project scope and estimate
You get a thorough project scope outlining the resources and timeframe required for completion.
VI: Implementation Plan
It’s a visual representation of a product’s development plan that is shown on a timeline in order to offer a clear image of the developmental process.
VII: Visual Concept
It takes the form of a collection of wireframes that illustrate user flows and system operations, user interface design concepts and components, a clickable prototype, and a completed UI design.
The discovery phase is a de facto industry standard in bespoke software development. It’s critical whether you are developing a new product, intending to enhance an existing system, embarking on a large-scale project, or just have an idea and need guidance on how to proceed further.
If you have an authorized user experience and user interface design, you can engage a new vendor to construct a system, and you will not need to revert to Discovery Phase. However, the software development discovery phase is a highly recommended process. You can consult with your software developers to determine the best course of action for your specific needs.