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Discovery Phase in Software Development

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Most software development companies will insist on a discovery phase before starting a project. This is natural, as a discovery phase increases the chances of a project’s success. Building an app or website without a discovery stage is as risky as building a house without an architectural plan. This phase shows how the project will function, what it will look like, and how it will help your business achieve its goals.  

In this article, we’ll delve into what the discovery phase is, what gives it the competitive edge and how to get started right with software development. So buckle up, we’re about to begin!

What is the discovery phase in software development?

The discovery phase is a deep research and planning process before the development begins. During this stage, stakeholders determine the main goals of the project, the scope of work, deadlines, and user experience expectations, step-by-step development plan including technologies that will be used.

Benefits of a discovery phase

Control risks

Clear project goals and requirements help to create accurate estimates of development time and budget. A discovery phase allows you to define all of the potential risks at the outset, so you don’t have to redo everything you’ve already developed completely. 

Establish a roadmap 

You will get a full timeline of the project with interim goals, deliverables, and deadlines. The software requirements specification (SRS) and wireframes developed during the discovery stage can be used to find additional investors.

Improve communication

Even a good pitch can’t assure you have chosen the right company. Regular communication at this phase allows you to evaluate how our team works, our expertise, and the project’s approach and establish two-way trust. You may use the results of the discovery phase with other IT vendors before launching development.

Main stages of the discovery phase

The discovery process involves specialists such as business analysts, project managers, marketers, technical architects, QA testers, and UI/UX designers. However, each step of the discovery process isn’t possible without the participation of the client.

1. Initiation

The main goal of this initial stage is to make sure the product provides what your business needs to grow. Business goals will define the feature set of the whole project. A business analyst will interview you and other stakeholders to clearly define your business goals. So be ready to set up one to three meetings per week during the discovery phase for this purpose. 

You will answer the questions like these:

  • What is a project vision? 
  • What unique value of the product?
  • What are the business metrics of your project’s success?
  • Who is the end-user?
  • What is your competition doing?
  • What must-have features do you want?
  • What problems will this software solve?
  • What platforms do you want to build?
  • What products like yours already exist, and what will differentiate them?

2. Research and analysis 

Even though you have a great idea but you don’t have a customer or you don’t meet their needs, you won’t have a successful business. To avoid this, you need to explore the market, find out who your competitors are, analyze their products, and determine the target audience and the user persona. 

3. Identifying the feature set

Now it is time to identify what features you’ll need to provide service to your users. A business analyst will help you choose the essential features for a minimum viable product (MVP) that you can test on the market. After releasing your MVP, you can add potential features list according to the response of your target audience. 

4. Collect project requirements

At this point, a business analyst draws up a specification document that defines your product’s technical, functional, and usability requirements. 

At this stage, a business analyst and a technical specialist will identify the technical risks that can influence your project’s scope and delivery time.

5. Create wireframes

A wireframe is a blueprint that indicates where the main elements of your app are in the user story and transitions between screens. Wireframes offer the user journey while taking into account patterns of user behavior. Approved the wireframes will then form the basis for the final design. 

6. Technical Plan

At this stage is the time to choose the right infrastructure architecture and appropriate technologies for your project to make sure it’s maintainable and scalable. Any deviations or changes later may incur high costs.

7. Estimation and the project specification

In this final step of the discovery process, you will receive findings and a detailed outline to manage time, budgets, human resources, a detailed description of each product feature, and potential risks. 

How long does the discovery phase take?

For a small project it can take approximately one or two weeks, for a larger one it will require around two months of work. 

Deliverables

As a result of the discovery phase, you will get competitor research, technical specifications, a feature set, wireframes, architecture, roadmap, and detailed estimation. 

Final thoughts

A software project discovery phase helps you find common ground with a vendor team and make sure you’ll get exactly what you need. It also helps to reduce the overall project budget and ensures deadlines are met thanks to performing detailed analysis before coding and designing the interface. You will have a clear plan for your project, from its features and technologies to design and business goals.

Interested in project discovery phase deliverables and your product development planning? Contact us via the site vtlabs.org, we are happy to help you with both the software development discovery phase and the development itself. 

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