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Innowise Group is an international full-cycle software development company founded in 2007. We are a team of 1400+ IT professionals developing software for other professionals worldwide.
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Innowise Group is an international full-cycle software development company founded in 2007. We are a team of 1400+ IT professionals developing software for other professionals worldwide.

Discovery phase in software development: how it saves time & money

At Innowise Group, we pay heed to the discovery stage as a part of the software development life cycle. It’s perfectly understandable, as a discovery stage ensures the software development project’s success and our company cares about the clients. Speaking in metaphors, ignoring a discovery stage is the same as if you were building a house without drawing an architectural plan. This phase is not red tape but one of the key aspects contributing to the success of an IT project.

What is a discovery phase?

The discovery phase is one of the first stages of the software development life cycle referring to the process of in-depth planning and research before solution engineering itself starts. At this stage, stakeholders determine the major project’s objectives, timelines, user experience, and a solution development plan, including the technologies to be used and the team line-up.

When is a discovery phase needed?

The answer is clear and obvious – the discovery phase is almost always needed, except for cases when the customer has already carried out the preliminary analysis independently or when the project is to finalize an existing solution.

In the case of building software from scratch, the discovery phase is a must-have regardless of the complexity and scale of the project. In project management, the difference between a large and a small project essentially lies in the amount of investment that is at stake. 

According to the McKinsey report, 45% of large software projects exceed a budget and, at the same time, deliver 56% less value than expected. These numbers speak for themselves, and the discovery phase, as a risk mitigation method, can help save significant resources and ensure the project’s success.

Why business need discovery

How to make product discovery?

The discovery phase has several stages, which, when combined, allow you to get the maximum value and better prepare for software development. For a small project, the discovery stage may take about one or two weeks, for a larger one, it may require about 4-6 weeks.

IT product discovery

Introduction

The main goal of the introduction stage is to define the project’s objectives and the value the developed software is to bring. Business analysts interview the client’s representatives to elicit business and technical requirements, explore stakeholders’ vision, and collect all information related to the project.

Research and analysis

During this stage, we harness collected information to conduct proper analysis of the market trends, competitors’ products, and growth opportunities. The analysis and research stage helps clearly define target users of the digital product and assess the commercial potential of software based on the size of the investment.

Identification of the feature set

Then, we proceed to identify what particular features the digital solution needs to meet business goals, satisfy potential users, and win a market share. Business analysts in cooperation with the business representatives and technical specialists set the priority of features and distribute the order of their implementation, from MVP (minimum viable product) to the final product.

Vision and scope

Using collected input, business analysts draft a vision and scope document that defines the technical, functional, and usability requirements of the product to be engineered. Then, we identify technical risks that may influence the scope and delivery time of the software development project and create a risk mitigation strategy. Vision and scope docs confirm that all parties to the project are on the same page.

Wireframes creation

Then, we create wireframes, sets of thumbnails and blueprints of all application screens and UI elements. The main purpose of the stage is to visualize how each feature will work in terms of the user interface. Such visualization helps to come to a common vision between the client and the vendor, facilitates the cost estimate, and provides the necessary working material for the UI/UX designers.

Technical plan

We decide on the solution architecture and offer the best-suited technology stack for the software engineering project to ensure that software will be easy to maintain and highly scalable. The creation of a technical plan is a crucial issue, as any subsequent deviations or changes can lead to the project budget overrunning.

Project estimation

At the end of the discovery phase of a software project, our IT professionals draw up a work breakdown structure (WBS) containing a list of all the tasks that must be completed to create a digital product, the time to complete the tasks in man-hours, and the estimated project’s cost.

IT product discovery

What team members are essential for the discovery phase?

The discovery stage may require the following IT professionals: business analysts, project managers, solution architects, marketing specialists, QA engineers, and UI/UX designers. The direct participation of the client’s representatives is essential for the successful completion of the discovery phase.

Benefits of the discovery phase

Risk mitigation

The discovery stage allows the development team to clearly define the project objectives at the very beginning, avoid misconceptions, and ensure the client’s and the vendor’s visions concur. This phase can be an integral part of the risk management strategy, as it helps establish proper man-hour estimates, analyze the market, and create project roadmaps.

Establishing a roadmap

Before you start the critical part of software development, you get vision and scope documents, wireframes, and work breakdown structures. The discovery stage allows you to plan your project’s direction properly, get clear data for business planning, and attract more investors.

Save time & money

A project’s uniqueness may not be enough to overcome the function creep, which can delay it and increase the budget. When creating a development plan, businesses may overlook small but crucial details for users’ comfort or essential features. It is difficult for the development team to deal with new requirements and features because they cause chaos and discouragement.

Imagine a situation when you have a certain budget for software development but after adding more features, troubleshooting increases, and other costs rise as well – and the main objective becomes avoiding budget overruns. Through the discovery phase, companies can calculate all the associated risks in advance, protecting themselves against excessive financial losses.

Considering the amount of competition in the market, companies may not even realize how dangerous a product delay is if they haven’t researched it. Your product could lose market appeal as a result of shifting deadlines and new updates from your competitors. Conducting a discovery phase can save a business thousands of dollars in the future by preventing these stressful situations that can lead to collapse.

Additional vendor assessment

The discovery stage allows you to evaluate the qualifications and expertise of a vendor before starting development. If you are not satisfied, you can opt for the services of another software development company and, at the same time, use the results of the completed discovery phase.  

Bottom line

The discovery stage has too many benefits to be ignored: risk reduction, an additional option to assess the vendor’s expertise, a clear roadmap, cost savings, etc. It may require additional investments, but they pay off in the vast majority of cases. The discovery phase is a crucial part of proper project management aligned to industry standards.

Innowise Group conducts discovery stages within software development projects and as a separate service offering. Feel free to contact our representatives to get high-quality software development services based on best practices.

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