The Power of a Discovery Phase for Tech Projects

January 31st, 2024

When solving problems with technology, the journey from the starting line to execution can be daunting. This is where the discovery phase becomes a crucial roadmap, guiding companies through the intricacies of their existing systems or plans, and pointing the way to future success.

What is a Discovery Phase?

When You’re Building Something New

If you’re building a new product or service, the discovery phase would entail a series of meetings at the beginning of a project so your developers and designers can clearly understand what is to be built.

During the discovery phase, you and your team will put together a very clear written spec, and figure out exactly what is needed to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and subsequent versions. The discovery phase allows your development and design team to provide a more accurate overall timeline and budget for what you are building.

The length of a discovery phase depends on the complexity of the project, and the problem you’re trying to solve.

At the end of the discovery phase, you should have a clear blueprint for how to proceed. This blueprint should outline when design and development will start, how long each phase of the plan will take, a budget range for the project, and a step-by-step, thoroughly detailed outline of what work is being done.

When You’re Expanding or Improving on Something Pre-Existing

If you’re seeking to expand or improve upon something that already exists, the discovery phase is where you’ll dive deep into the existing codebase/product, evaluating scalability, usability, and technical debt. Doing this provides a roadmap for the future, suggesting steps to take from the current state to the desired outcome. The process will also help identify build vs. buy choices, cost-saving opportunities, required resources, and potential risks.

Seeking Answers and Providing Solutions for Something Pre-Existing

1. Codebase Evaluation: Is it scalable and usable?

This analysis may reveal that the existing codebase is scalable and usable, with some manageable technical debt, or that it needs to be completely rewritten from scratch. Recommendations prioritize improvements, offering efficiency gains and future-proofing.

2. Clear Business Objectives: What is desired?

Understanding the stated business objectives is paramount. The discovery phase aims to align technical goals, such as building and deploying user account login capabilities, with broader business objectives like, for example, increasing user engagement by 20%.

3. Crafting a Phased Plan: How do we get there?

The recommended phased plan outlines a roadmap for success, from content exploration and design choices to deployment and launch. Detailed estimates in terms of hours and calendar time provide a clear understanding of the investment required.

The Process Unveiled

The Discovery Phase involves a meticulous approach:

Evaluation (75% of Time): Delving into existing materials, understanding business and technical objectives. Meetings and notes!
Planning (20% of Time): Researching, thinking, and formulating a comprehensive plan.
Deliverable Generation (5% of Time): Creating a detailed document encompassing findings, recommendations, and a phased plan.

To conduct a thorough discovery phase, businesses should be prepared to provide their business objectives, software specs, plans, and access to relevant code repositories and decision-makers. 

A Strategic Tool to Unlock Potential

By investing in the discovery phase, companies gain a comprehensive understanding of their technological landscape, paving the way for successful product development and deployment. In a world where technology evolves rapidly, the discovery phase is the roadmap that ensures companies navigate towards innovation and success.

This Sample Discovery Phase is a good example of what a great deliverable looks like from a discovery phase and illuminates the value of measuring twice and cutting once.

Interested in launching a discovery phase for your project? Check out our page to get started.