Almost half of the companies that create software exceed their budget, and it becomes a crushing blow for many.
During the development process of new projects, companies want to fit into their budget, so they need to find a well-thought-out decision.
This solution will be using the Discovery Phase. According to many software development companies that work in information technology, the Discovery Phase protects businesses from collapse and allows them to build successful products in the future. Read further to find out how exactly.
What Does a Discovery Phase Mean for a Software Development Project?
In simple terms, the Discovery Phase is the first stage of project software development, which includes:
- marketing research of the future product and its potential competitiveness in the market
- determination of crucial functionality and architecture
- selection of the best tech stack
- risk and cost assessment
- identification of potentially vulnerable areas of the product
- finding a way out of critical situations
Experienced software companies know that the Discovery phase is not a panacea and a sweet pill for any failures. Still, it helps to sort out all aspects of future development, starting from the startup idea’s relevance and ending with choosing the necessary functionality.
Choosing the Discovery Phase, the company can receive a development team consisting of:
- business analyst
- UI/UX designer
- DevOps (in some cases)
Rarely a project manager and account manager take the lead of the product discovery team.
From a business point of view, the Discovery Phase helps companies identify their end-users and their needs. From the point of view of product development, Discovery Phase is the process of creating system requirements necessary to start development.
The Discovery Phase usually lasts two months and includes several sprints.
5 Main Project Deliverables From a Discovery Phase
According to statistics, 9 out of 10 startups fail. The three reasons are:
- lack of marketing needs
- unexperienced team
- financial problems
These all lead to an increase in the software development budget.
However, the Discovery Phase has five bargaining chips that will help companies avoid the sad failure or minimize problems on the development path, such as specification, prototype, and the creation of an MVP.
Marketing research in the Discovery Phase is one of the first and foremost components. Companies should clearly understand if the product has a future or the idea will not be needed by the market.
This critical stage helps companies save a significant amount of money and understand what is still worth developing and what can be abandoned. For example, a business analyst can identify:
- competitors in a particular niche
- functionality needed
- what is missing and users would like to get
- necessary elements that can help outperform competitors
Software Requirements Specification (SRS Document)
A Software Requirements Specification (SRS) is a document that describes what software will do and how it is expected to work.
Usually, the SRS includes:
- Product’s goal
- General description of future functionality, its performance, tech documentation, and system requirements
- Special product requirements such as limitations, security, intellectual property agreements, etc.
If businesses want to create the correct software specifications, it is necessary to consider marketing research and actual users and their needs when working with the product in the future.
The design is the face of each project that attracts users to start using the product.
The product prototype is created even before the start of the product development itself. This helps developers understand how the product will work after the launch.
The Discovery Phase will allow the company to make wireframes and then create design prototypes for a website or mobile application. It is essential at this stage to create the best offer for the user with a concise and straightforward design that fits all the functionality.
With the prototype, the client can already see the logic of the future application, and what the user flow will be. UX prototype is usually created to show the stakeholders how users will interact with the application.
Companies can present their project to investors when a design prototype is made. A visual solution will give business people more chances to appreciate the ideas and prospects regarding monetary investments.
MVP Development Plan and Project Estimate
Before starting development, the company should receive recommendations on
- optimal composition of the team
- description of the stages of work
- action timeline
- estimate of costs
An experienced outsourcing company will always lay down production risks to minimize the budget expansion during the development process.
At this stage, it is crucial for companies to understand whether they are ready to develop a fully-featured product or to choose a more reliable and proven way of creating a new product – by starting with a minimal viable product (MVP).
In this case, the company will have the opportunity to:
- save the budget during the building process and spend it for further marketing purposes
- reduce time to market because development will be much shorter
- receive an excellent opportunity to get feedback from early users and immediately improve the product.
Why Discovery Phase Matters
Let’s assume that the company wants to save money and refuses to conduct a Discovery Phase because it seems that the idea is unique and should end with a successful product. What could be the consequences?
Endless Scope of Functions
Despite the idea’s uniqueness, the project can be delayed and significantly increase the budget due to the creep of functions. When creating a development plan, there is a possibility for businesses to overlook the essential functions or small but significant details for users’ comfort. New requirements and features cause chaos and discourage the development team.
By choosing the Discovery Phase, companies will understand which functionality is most effective for the product and what should not be implemented.
The company expected one budget, but as a result of receiving additional functions, troubleshooting and other expenses increased, and the main task remains not to get into debt.
Here, the Discovery Phase will more than ever protect companies from excessive financial losses by calculating all the risks associated with the functions in advance.
There are a lot of competitors on the market, and if startup companies have not conducted their research, they may not even imagine how dangerous a product delay is for at least a week.
The deadlines are shifting, the competitor is already rolling out a new update, and the latest product here is forced to lose its attractiveness in the market.
To avoid these stressful situations that can lead a business to collapse, companies should remember that conducting a Discovery Phase can save them thousands of dollars in the future.
The Discovery Phase is a crucial stage before the development itself that will help companies avoid gross production errors, help save money, and increase the chances of product-market fit.
In simple terms, the Discovery Phase is a very cost-effective and risk-minimizing process that most international companies have implemented on their projects. Before bringing a great idea to life, companies need to find a reliable software service provider who can:
- analyze the market and competitors
- make competent technical requirements
- build a prototype of the design that will be simple, interactive, and user-friendly
- plan the creation of an MVP with all milestones stages