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What is the project discovery phase and why is it necessary?

What is the project discovery phase and why is it necessary?
The start of any project is an exciting but challenging time.
Iryna Liubinets
Iryna Liubinets
Chief Product Management Officer

The start of any project is an exciting but challenging time. We always feel butterflies in our stomachs when we receive a task of bringing a new digital product to life. But to feel confident in our own powers as well as to provide this confidence to our customers we always offer particular services, which help to make projections of future solutions. This article is aimed to display the workflow prior to the development of any IT project in our company.

What we do before the start of any project

To estimate the project cost and prepare a commercial offer for the customer it is essential for us to carry out the holistic analysis of all aspects related to the execution of a project: from the moment of idea generation and shaping of business concept to the technical implementation of the targeted product. Such analysis in software development is normally called a discovery phase. This approach allows us to secure our customers against unplanned expenses and to clearly determine the work terms of the team dealing with the product development.

Nowadays it is unreasonable to start a project on software development without the previous in-depth analysis. At LinkUp Studio we take up the product-driven approach which involves the consideration of all details to deliver the “polished” high-end digital products. Therefore comprehensive research is an opening stage of any IT project in the company. This is a procedure of collecting the information, which provides a deep understanding of the sphere the digital product is being developed for. It also helps to perceive the customer’s vision and his expectations to work out the best design that will be consistent with the purpose of a digital solution as well as meet the needs of the targeted audience.

Ideally, our purpose on each particular project is to select the relevant approach, technology and architecture for the implementation of a potential project. Companies that are not involved in software development are often not aware of the existence of a discovery phase. Therefore they might have no clue of what they are supposed to do as well as what kind of benefits the discovery phase can provide. So we are here to help the customers observe the development process and direct them in the right course.

A discovery phase is the first and compulsory development stage, that aims to find out all necessary requirements and analyze targeted business goals in order to provide a commercial offer on the technical implementation, determine the project scope and estimate the development costs.

discovery phase process

People, engaged in the discovery phase:

Depending on the project demands the team involved in the discovery phase may vary. In LinkUp Studio the list of responsible specialists includes:

a Business Analyst - studies the market, targeted audience, business processes of customers, suggests solutions to business tasks;

a UI/UX designer - creates designs and interactive prototypes of future projects;

a Solution Architect - a person that estimates technical components of a project (determines and suggests tools, platforms and other technical solutions necessary for implementation of projects)

During the discovery phase we create a set of documents and schemes for the efficient work on the project:

1. Product Canvas

At the very beginning, we define all main points of the project such as the current market state and business process, problems, solution(s), revenue models. We also describe the Customer persona that helps to create personalized interface to the maximum extent.

2. BPMN/Blueprint

To have a deep understanding of the whole process flow from the very start till the end, we create a model displaying actions divided between all roles/supporting processes.

3. User flow

We create a user flow that displays the sequence of events in the system detalized to all screens and actions. It helps to understand the general system structure and find gaps. We determine how the user will interact with the interface of a new product in the form of schematically depicted screens of a software solution and transitions between them.

4. Specification

This particular document represents the list of requirements and all additional details which weren't discussed earlier and connects logical pieces into a fully-working system. We build a clear structure of the project by categorization of tasks with detailed descriptions of what should be done.

5. Project Plan

Based on the specification we create a Project Plan, which is divided into milestones.It provides the opportunity for the client to have a clear view of what is being done at a particular period of time while the developers have a precise plan of all the activities on the implementation of the project. Such approach allows to remove misunderstanding that can occur in the process between the customer and the team.

6. System wireframes

This is the first step of creating a prototype. Wireframes visually represent system structure and content blocks which allows to see what should be changed or added before completing the full prototype.

7. UI design (Clickable Prototype)

Our designers create unique brisk designs imposing images, icons, colours and fonts on the wireframes. Prototyping represents the projection of the user’s behaviour via visual prototypes of the interface. It allows to save up cost and time losses on the development phase as it displays how the system will look and feel exactly when it's completed. It can be used to have a first user interaction test or to present the system to potential investors.

8. Technology analysis

Technology analysis provides an opportunity to build the relevant project architecture, which is going to meet the business goals of a platform right from the beginning. We offer the best technologies that provide maximum reliability, maintainability, scalability and flexibility of the system with a high-efficiency level. This approach allows saving costs as well as provides confidence and clarity in what we do.

software product analysis

The discovery phase might seem to be a too long-lasting and costly procedure but in reality it provides the great opportunity for the team to determine the project implementation period and budget, substantiate the requirements to the end product, identify the needs of the end users and receive the feedback on the product. If you don’t pay necessary attention to the discovery phase there is a big risk of making mistakes in the bottom-line price of the project. The more preliminary work you do prior to the development of the product, the more comprehensible and predictable is the result.

For a customer the discovery phase is a preliminary preparation for the implementation of a project. The discovery phase provides the customer with the following opportunities:

  • get a clear view of the idea and concept of the project based upon the real analysis of the markert and targeted audience;
  • identify hidden aspects of the project, which were not considered previously;
  • get an expert estimation of the project and information on the right way of its implementation;
  • minimize and optimize expenses;
  • form a clear technical task and determine the time period and budget of the project;
  • consider the alternative solutions and technologies for project implementation
  • avoid expenses on making alterations and changes in the process of product development;
  • understand if the software company meets expectations and make the final decision on further cooperation.

Benefits of starting a project with the discovery phase:

benefits of discovery phase

So if you are planning to create a high-end product and make use of your money a discovery phase is a must, because nobody starts a war without a clear plan.

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Iryna Liubinets
Iryna Liubinets
Chief Product Management Officer
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