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The Discovery phase is an initial stage in software development, a professional business analysis of product ideas that results in exact deliverables like documented architecture and requirements specification, defined project scope with clear cost, and time estimation. The Discovery phase often turns out to be an unknown service for startups, but when being requested brings a lot of benefits, namely improving the solution in a team of experts at cost. That’s why if product discovery is not skipped, it is the first decisive step to achieve 100% project success.
The Discovery phase is valuable as it helps us and our clients align towards the expected solution, discuss all details, all liaisons. It allows viewing the product not only under the functional point of use but from an end-users’ and business perspective altogether.
In 2019 the percentage of startups that fail reached 90% which means 9 of 10 startups die. For startups to survive during the first and second years is not a piece of cake as well: 21.5% fail in the first year and 30% in the second year. What’s the problem? How not to fall behind in building a startup?
The first obvious reason is running out of money. It is either lack of investment, paying poor efforts into finding investors, or being on the string budget because of constant re-builds. Does not that lead us to the second reason which is a lack of research?
Startup teams tend to misjudge budget capabilities as well as their understanding of the market, target audience, trends, technologies, etc. “If I have money, what can go wrong?” Targeting an audience based on demographics? Definitely a bad idea. Implementing all trendy features into one solution to make it top-notch? Won’t work as well. The truth is startups can bloom at minimum budgeting on condition the product team has a clear vision, great product strategy, and passion to constantly search for ideas on how to grow. So, delivering for the wrong market and wrong audience, unpredicted budget risks, scattered architecture, and not only — are the typical problems startups should resolve before jumping to development.
Predicting whether a new business idea is right for a long time is one of the most difficult questions for startups. Camera GoPro was a company shifting from private to public meaning other people could buy its shares — pretty high at the moment they launched their top-notch cameras on the market. Today the company continues to develop, but shares are much lower and customers lost their interest in the product that suddenly boomed and went down.
Delivering mobile-first technology is great, but it is nothing without a team passionate about realizing new ideas and making products victorious in different business niches. The Ukrainian startup RefaceAI targets the global market and even earned unexpected attention from Elon Musk. Though a face-swapping application holds mostly the entertainment part, the founders promote the app as a handy tool for cinema production and film distribution, video game development, and other fields. Keeping a flexible and future-in-mind startup team they choose long-term perspectives over the short-time success that brings money. The team researches software development trends in video development technologies. They get the most of generated ideas and put serious focus on realizing the monetization plan.
Startups should come up with a marketing strategy and consistent project plan to go ahead with it. Describing product vision and compiling requirements plan will be easier with:
Researching on your own can be challenging and the moment will come when you realize expert opinion is what you need. The Discovery phase is a stage conducted by technical leaders, software architects, business analysts, UI/UX designers, and engagement managers. The purpose of the Discovery phase in software development projects is to collect maximum information for driving smooth project initiation and taking data-driven decisions. Also, there are such constituents of a Discovery phase as proof of concept in software development, which aims to find out the idea’s feasibility. And, there’s an MVP development. How to develop a minimum viable product? It allows deploying a minimum functional app and adding various features later.
At every Discovery phase, we hear from our clients: “This is a good question we need to think through.” At every Discovery phase, we hear from our team: “Here is an idea! Let’s solve it in the next way…”. Discovery is a powerful synergy since everybody works together as a team ready to deliver value.
Profound customer analysis and market research during this service help startups build the right solution with the right technology tools. Also, the Discovery phase ends with creating a clear project plan including the estimated budget and time.
Learn more about how to validate your startup business idea
The Discovery phase is an intensive research period before development. The stage of discovery usually takes from 1 to 2 weeks or several months for large-scale projects. Solution Vision and Scope Document will be compiled at the end of the process and will include:
Along with the main outcomes which are solution vision and scope document, we want to note that the value of this stage also includes:
The business Analyst’s role is vital for software projects. Responsibilities of business analyst during the discovery phase will cover:
If the project manager has to build the product right, the business analyst has to verify we are building the right product. Firstly, the BA specialist analyzes business needs and then identifies whether the solution archives business goals. The expertise and skills of business analysts reach broad horizons. They should know which techniques will suit a particular business case. Business analysis will aim at targeting various data sources to extract the most useful insights. Experts will use the following tools and methodologies to visualize data and present results in an understandable format to the client:
The technical leader works side by side with the business analyst to analyze solutions, features, and integrations and prepare the best technical stack decision. The technical leader’s task is to verify the scalability and robustness of architecture design. The whole team’s critical task during product research and analysis is ensuring both sides to be on the same page. No detail or comment can be missed. As long as a client addresses the software company to conduct research, the team’s greatest devotion will be to understanding clients’ wishes, expectations, and fears.
Expectation management is one of the most crucial principles of our delivery process. A common understanding of how a client envisions functionality, what we should input into a marker of quality, what product architecture we should draw — is all the basis of truly fruitful cooperation with our client. What the client expects and how we understand it is important for the success of all the stakeholders.
Paying for the Discovery phase and requesting it saves you from rebuilds and failures. The greatest risk in skipping discovery lies in losing your entire project by building the wrong solution. Besides, you reduce the time and costs of the application development as the expert team adds features end-users will need and removes needless ones basing decisions on business analysis.
Firstly, Discovery is always about challenging clients’ minds and setting the questions they never happened to hear, but the answers to which reveal essentials about the future product. Secondly, it’s about challenging the technical team making them find solutions, sometimes extraordinary, for meeting clients’ requirements and end-users needs.
MVP development can be the result of the Discovery phase service. Besides, startups receiving technical specification documents and project scope with an estimated budget can request implementation of the solution at any software company. For product owners, it is a helpful guide to find reliable and highly expert software development partners. The Discovery phase is at cost service, usually short in time that never delays the implementation of business ideas. Instead, it accelerates the development process, eliminating doubts about project functionality. Thus, it helps clients and engineering teams be on the same page. The Discovery phase is important for startups not to build the wrong solution, but to have improvements done before the product goes to the development stage.
Thanks to the activities of the discovery phase, we help clients define: when and where is a starting point for the project to stay within a budget and timeline, what things to keep in mind to avoid future rebuilds. These are what we call expectation management and success story.
How to define whether you need a discovery phase? There is no simple way but to set you the right questions. Try to answer these:
Don’t feel clear and confident in answering all these questions? We know how challenging it is! Probably, it’s time to get professional business analysis and expert estimation of your business idea. If you have doubts and feel for improvement, you should learn more about the Discovery Phase service and what benefits you will receive with it.
Learn even more about software development for startups. Especially, the software development hourly rate!