Home Business Insights & Advice The discovery phase in software development: What it is and how it works

The discovery phase in software development: What it is and how it works

by Sarah Dunsby
6th Mar 23 12:42 pm

The discovery phase is one of the key elements in planning. Any startup and product usually go through the analysis and planning stage before entering the market. This step is necessary to better understand what is currently going on in our sector, what needs consumers have, and how we can meet them.

Poor planning during the discovery phase is among the main reasons some projects fail even with a great idea. Investing in discovery is an additional cost, however, it ensures that numerous factors are taken into account, thus increasing the chances of success. That is why we can see a high demand for software product discovery services today. With a growing number of new startups, each of them strives to stand out, and proper planning is the best strategy for such a purpose.

What is discovery

The discovery phase is similar to the strategy creation process regarding how the project will be implemented. Here, the dev team pays special attention to deep research. Among the main tasks are defining the goals and constraints of the project, as well as assessing the amount of work that needs to be done to put the idea into practice.

At this stage, devs prioritise and estimate how long development cycles may take and how many resources the process can require. Using this concept, we can get a clearer idea of where to go and what to do to successfully launch the project.

Among the main aspects of the discovery phase are:

  • Development team selection
  • Determining tasks and scope of work
  • Project budget and potential risks assessment
  • Research for data-driven decision making
  • Analysis of customers’ needs and desires

How it works

The discovery phase is quite an individual thing for each startup. That is why the tasks and scope of work can vary from project to project, depending on its features, goals, and capabilities. The phase usually lasts 2-4 weeks.

It is worth noting that even if this stage is largely unique for each business, there is a general concept that can be applied to every startup.

The discovery concept includes several steps:

  • Determining project goals. The business owner and the development team discuss the ideas and expectations that should be included in the project. Then, based on the information received, the end goals of the project and ways to achieve them are determined.
  • Market analysis. Once the goals are clear, the development team analyses and researches the market to check for trends and understand customers’ sentiments and needs.
  • Planning. By understanding the current state of the market and the specific goals of implementing ideas, the dev team provides a plan that helps to settle the development process, estimate its time frame and understand how it will all work in practice.
  • UX / UI. After analysing the needs and desires of customers, a UX / UI design is started. The main task here is to provide a nice appearance and friendly interface to ensure the end product will interest the customer.
  • Software architecting. It is the process of software development to make the app work efficiently, be well-optimised, and provide high performance.
  • Finalisation. After going through all stages, the business owner receives all the necessary documentation, project plan, architecture concept, the product’s prototype, etc.

During the discovery phase, the dev team and the client are in constant dialogue, which allows them to share ideas, as well as adapt to changes and make adjustments. Cooperation between all parties involved is the key to a successful discovery phase.

Who manages the discovery phase

The discovery phase is a complex and multi-tasking process, so several diverse specialists are involved here, each of whom is responsible for their part of the work.

Analyst. Evaluation of problems, user expectations, and ways to solve issues are all done by the analyst. Through in-depth research and structuring of both businesses’ and customers’ needs, the analyst determines the goals and steps that need to be taken to bring the idea to life.

Software Architect. Everything related to the technical part is the work of software architects. They define and design the product architecture and select the technology stack to implement it. Learn more about what is solution architecture and its role in the development process.

UX / UI Designer. Creating an intuitive and visually appealing user interface is the responsibility of the UX/UI designer. Analysing the needs of the end customer, the designer creates a prototype of the future product, which should be convenient, attractive, and functional in order to captivate users.

Project Manager. Creating a plan, assessing risks and time frames, as well as separating responsibilities, and organising communication between all involved participants – all these steps are taken by project managers.

The importance of the discovery phase

Putting an idea into practice is always a complex and difficult process that requires some preparation and in-depth analysis before starting.

The discovery phase gives a clear idea of what the market trends are, what the user wants, and what resources you have to create the product that both reveals your idea in the best way and appeals to the customer.

By investing in the discovery phase, startups and businesses can better understand where they are and where they need to go in order to achieve the desired results. This approach identifies risks and possible issues, which helps to avoid problems and increase the chances of project success. That is why the discovery phase is critical to the development process.

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