discovery phase

Discovery Phase in Software Development Project

Startups, influencers, or common people come up with the concept of a software project. In such cases, before experts initiate the development process, it is very crucial and important to get an entire level of understanding of whether the project or service will be able to satisfy customer’s needs and meet the market strategies.

To prevent the project failure, and get the expected results in a good way it is better to get the proper analysis of the overall project domain and get a wider vision of it and get the expected results.

Common Reasons Behind Business Failure in the Early Years

  • Lack of business model
  • Lack of passion and innovation
  • project or service do not have a market
  • Users don’t find the project useful
  • Extreme usage of budget and delivery deadline
  • Communication problems lead to project failure
  • Not aware of the pain points and user roles
  • Lack of awareness of about the gaps in the modules
  • Endless Scope Creep
  • Many More… 

Why you Need to Start your Project with the Discovery Phase

The Discovery phase is a process of collecting and organizing project information that helps startups, influencers, or common people to prioritize features, determine their target audiences, get a better understanding and direction to their final requirements.

It is a procedure of project lifecycle which includes requirement gathering, in-depth analysis of client’s requirements, examine the customer needs and their expectations, check the project or service efficiency and feasibility, get a wider vision about the technical specifications, their logics, and functionalities.

This phase is a bridge between the theoretical concept and realization of the project. 

  • In fixed-cost projects, the discovery phase is the best practice for initiating the project.
  • In agile, the discovery phase helps to establish a broader vision, project scope, and an initial milestone-based plan for the delivery of the project.

Who is Involved in this Process?

  • Company’s Representative 
  • Sales Head
  • Business Analysts
  • Estimation Team and Technical Heads
  • Project Coordinates

Discovery Basic Components and Flow

Discovery basic flow

Stages of Discovery Phase

The following are the seven main stages of the discovery phase of a software development project. Let’s look at each stage in greater detail.

1. Initial Contact

From here, everything gets started. Any potential client, company, or agency comes up with their project ideas. We get an insight into what they want and provide them with a rough estimation.

If the estimation is within the client’s financial plan (budget), we schedule their first call with the company’s technical head and sales head to understand the must-have features and create a detailed estimation of the project. If the client agrees to it, we recommend the discovery phase contract.

On an initial understanding of the requirement, an introductory feature list document that contains the time (hours) and cost values are submitted to the client. A rough estimation is free of charge. Doing this assists the company to understand and make a decision to proceed or cease the collaboration.

If the client agrees to continue, we do the following:

  • Estimate how much time and money the planning phase is going to take.
  • Sign a contract.
  • Initiate the discovery phase.

2. Analyzing and Planning Details

This is the major stage where business analysts and technical heads make sure the project provides what the business needs to grow. Business goals will utter the project’s whole feature set. To get a more clear perception, they collect the input data like:

  • What problems are you currently facing in the project?
  • What are the must-have features?
  • What comparative projects as of now exist, and what will separate your project from them?
  • What technology and platform do you want to support?
  • What is your target audience?
  • Many More…

Here, we need the active participation of business analysts, technical heads, and the client where they will discuss the overall purpose, pros, and cons, feasibility of the project. If the client is not sure about it, then the company’s team members help them to solve their queries.

It generally ranges between 1 to 3 meetings a week.

3. Project Specifications

After getting the final answers to the questions which were discussed in the previous stage. That helps us to create the feature list and final tech requirements.

The specification is a document where every data related to the project or service is documented.

It contains:

  • Detailed Feature List: This document contains the required fields of each module including technical and functional requirements.
  • Flowcharts: These are the visual representation diagrams which explain the step by step execution flow of the process and how users get redirected to the respective screens or website pages.

4. Wireframes 

After getting more clarity, Wireframes come into the picture. Wireframes are the blueprint of the application or website where each element is placed in the respective app screens and website pages. It is one of the UI/UX design services we provide before development.

This guides the client more about the components and navigation flow of the project. Further, changes are always welcomed. Clients can add comments or pen down their suggestions. Based on that we can make the adjustments. 

Wireframes need to be approved before we move further. 

5. Detailed Estimation

Software Developers, UI/UX designers, and everyone else involved studying the specification and wireframes to estimate the time needed to implement each feature and build the project.

If the client finalizes, then we proceed towards the design and development phase. 

6. Design

Afterward, the UI/UX of the respective application or website is carried out. The font, colors, typography, logo are involved where clients view the realization of the project.

Based on the industry standards and protocols a seamless, beautiful, and functional design is created that offers something unique and covers every logical aspect including the user experience.

Depending on their complexity, designs can take from 10% to 30% of your overall project budget.

7. Technical Documentation (SRS)

This is the main document where screen wise each project feature is explained with the logic and their functionality.

It includes all information about the project which contains the purpose, intended audience (user types), components usage, project scope, navigation path, design screens, fields details, and proper validation messages, project glossary, references (if any), usage of diagrams to explain the logics visually, other raw details like API integration, Third-party libraries usage, local server details and use cases. 

How Long Does the Discovery Phase Last?

Typically, the discovery phase spans from three weeks – two months.

What Do You Get by the End of the Discovery Phase?

  • Detailed Project Estimation
  • Technical Specifications
  • Wireframes
  • With a clear set of requirements, they can develop a step-by-step plan
  • Accurate estimates of time and budget
  • Regular communications and in-depth two-way communications build trust towards the company.
  • Discovered the pain points and solutions from the domain experts 

Discovery Phase Deliverables

  • Technical requirement specification document
  • UI/UX 
  • Development Plan and detailed estimates

Final Thoughts

The discovery phase is the most crucial phase while developing the project as it entirely determines what, how, why is needed to achieve the business goals. It involves the work of domain experts, technical heads, business analysts, designers, project coordinators to understand the challenges and difficult areas.

Analyzing each module and reaching to the possible solutions builds confidence and trust to get achievable results and brings closer a step. It helps to make sure what exactly is needed within the budget and timeline.

In the end, you’ll have a clear and thorough plan for your project, from its features and technologies to design and business goals.

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Samar Patel

Samar Patel is the COO of MindInventory, bringing 15+ years of experience serving Fortune 500 companies in their business transformation journeys. He also lends his expertise as an advisory board member for startups and MSMEs. Above all, Samar is a techie who is not only interested in exploring and discussing the possibilities in the world of AI/ML and digital transformation but also in realizing those by aligning technical expertise.