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Discovery Phase: Conduct or Skip


Nataliia P. - September 16, 2022 - 0 comments

The discovery phase is important because it helps you avoid making unnecessary investments in the wrong solutions. It also ensures that you’re building something that users need and comes along with your business goals.

The discovery phase is critical for success, but there are cases when you can skip it. This article will help you decide when to initiate the discovery stage in a software project and when to move on without it.

When you need discovery phase

There are several types of projects that cannot be launched without going through the discovery phase:

New projects at the idea stage or a little beyond

Whether you decide to create an e-commerce store or automate business processes within the enterprise, the discovery phase is mandatory for you if such a decision is not supported by detailed documentation. During the discovery phase, the development team goes on the path from a rough project idea to a clear product concept. They evaluate the risks associated with the development, examine the possibility of implementation from a technical point of view, and calculate the final budget.

To better understand the importance of the discovery phase, imagine that you want to make a suit and go to a tailor. The tailor listens to your wishes, takes measurements, agrees on the fabric and accessories, and only then tells you the final price.

Projects with a fixed budget

Before starting such a project, you need to create a product roadmap and determine how long it will take to implement product features. During the discovery phase, you will discuss the development technologies, team composition, developer rates, and the cost of setting up the IT infrastructure.

After approving the development plan, you will determine the final project price. This price will be fixed in the development contract and will not change, even if some changes arise during the course of project implementation.

Small and mid-sized projects

A small or mid-sized project can be either the launch of a new product or the development of a specific feature of an existing product. For example, creating a brochure website   is considered a small project. At the same time, connecting a ready-made payment gateway to an existing e-commerce store does not fall under the category of a large project either.

When you need discovery phase

When you don’t need discovery phase

The specifics of some projects allows skipping the discovery phase. Here is when you don’t need it.

You have a well-prepared project documentation

If you have already listed product features, identified technologies, selected a cloud provider, and outlined the roles of the development team, then you do not need a discovery phase. All you have to do is to find performers who can follow your development plan and agree with them on the rates and deadlines.

Note, if you outsource software development, the remote team will take time to study your documentation. After that, they may suggest some edits and changes. When all the details are agreed upon, you can start the implementation.

You want to hire a dedicated team

The dedicated team suits extensive long-term projects. The final cost of such projects is impossible to calculate because they constantly evolve, grow, and scale up.

Each member of the dedicated team receives a monthly salary. Also, the client pays a service fee to the outsourcing provider.

Just like with the in-house team, the client can stop cooperation with the dedicated team by notifying the outsourcing company within a predefined period. In this case, the client won’t be charged extra costs, and all rights to the software product will belong to the client.

When you don't need disocvery phase

Ordering discovery phase as a standalone service

In most cases, the discovery phase is the first step of a project implementation, followed by designing, developing, and testing. However, you can also order it as a stand-alone service, and then decide whether to continue working with a given software provider or choose another one.

Сonducting discovery phase: Softensy expertise

Below are the recent cases of conducting the discovery phase by the Softensy team.

Stock analytics platform for a Silicon Valley startup

The client wanted to develop a service that would suggest financial decisions based on forecasts of financial analysts.

They provided us with a product presentation and a brief description of the formulas.

During two weeks, the Softensy team conducted the discovery phase and provided the client with a rough product estimate.

The client highly appreciated our work but decided to stop cooperation because our rates seemed too high.

Six months later, the client contacted us again. They asked us to audit the product that they ordered from a freelancer as they were not satisfied with its UI usability and doubted the correctness of financial calculations.

Softensy team has inspected the provided system, indicated where and why it made wrong calculations, and calculated the time needed for the system redesign.

Time estimation during the discovery phase

Estimated time for implementing product features

Based on the audit data, the client decided to completely redesign the product and asked us to do a project estimate.

After conducting a business analysis, we provided the client with a description of product requirements including user stories, technical recommendations, requirements for data sets, and UI design samples.

Developing UI design during the discovery phase

UI design sample by Softensy provided after the discovery phase

The client was satisfied with our work. They decided to make a few adjustments to the business model and contact us again with a polished product concept.

Fintech product for an Argentinian startup

The client wanted to develop a program that would calculate the level of inflation and provide profitable cash backs, referral programs, and quick payments by QR codes.

During the discovery phase, the Softensy team did the following:

  • documented software product requirements
  • provided diagrams that demonstrated the app logic
  • developed UX guidelines
  • created a product prototype
  • listed the technical requirements for full-fledged product implementation

The client highly appreciated our work. Currently, they are discussing project details with their partners and are looking forward to cooperating with Softensy again.

Conclusion

Discovery phase as a time dedicated to research and analysis. It helps understand customers’ needs, study the competitive environment, and assess project feasibility from a technical point of view.

You, as a client, can and should join the development team at this stage and articulate your business requirements in the first person. However, if you have well-prepared documentation or are going to launch a long-lasting project, you can skip the discovery phase and proceed directly to development.

If you doubt if you need the discovery phase, get in touch with our consultants. Softensy team will study your project details and advise a solution that fits your business goals, budget, and expected deadlines. 

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