Once you have decided to develop software, you might notice that it's quite a complicated and time-consuming process. As a lot of actions need to be taken, it is difficult to do anything without a clear and structured plan, where all phases of a software project are shown.
Depending on the main goals the number of software project phases might differ, however, mostly it includes planning, requirements gathering, software architecture, development, testing, and deployment.
In this article, we are going to talk about the discovery phase in software development which is also called the software foundation as without it the work will be confusing and take more time.
What is a discovery phase in software development?
The discovery phase of a software project is the first and one of the most vital phases of a software project. Thanks to this phase it is possible to see the outlook and anticipate the problems that can arise at an early stage.
A large part of the work during this process is dedicated to delving into deep research and analysis. Based on it, creating a product that matches the user's needs gets much easier and more productive during later stages.
More specifically discovery phase of a software project is supposed to:
Make a research on the target audience's needs;
Define the project and how it can be useful for people;
Analyse the problems that may arise and find the best solutions;
Allow developers to create a user-friendly interface.
As a consequence of the thorough examination, the best solutions won't take a long time.
Who does the discovery phase of your project?
Everything depends on the team that is responsible for the project discovery phase and the project scale. However, oftentimes the key people who are involved include a project manager, a business analyst, a software architect, UX/UI designer, and clients. All of them are responsible for their specific tasks and make an essential contribution to software discovery.
A project manager is a person who is responsible for communication between the team and the client. The list of his main tasks also includes planning, budgeting, and ensuring that everything is done according to deadlines.
A business analyst should do an in-depth analysis of the target audience's needs. This person gathers information about people and finds out why they are likely to consume their product. Thanks to this research it is easier to create a high-quality product that will interest people, be helpful to them and stick to their needs.
A software architect is a specialist who is due to make design choices and ensure that the product meets all technical requirements and the target audience's expectations.
A UX/UI designer first of all studies human needs. After thorough research, he decides what’s best for the user and verifies a convenient interface that will help people have a good experience. This person makes sure that everything is designed in a user-friendly way and that users will come back.
Clients in turn have also been engaged in this process and share their vision of the project. They are a fundamental part of any discovery phase of the project as without them the team won't be able to achieve the best results.
If all listed people work in agreement and do their work well, great results won't take much time to wait.
Advantages of a discovery stage
The discovery phase of a software project is needed for all projects and can’t be skipped. It is like the first and the most essential brick of the house on which everything is held. Therefore, this stage can't be bypassed. In case it is provided at a high level, you will get the next advantages.
You save money
Problems cost money. The bigger they are, the more we spend on them. However, thanks to software discovery you will minimise the difficulties and spending on them.
As one of the main tasks of the discovery stage is to do in-depth research and identify risks, fewer problems will arise in the future.
You gain user loyalty
After the target audience analysis, it is easier to see the hardship that people have and how your app can be useful for them. Furthermore, designers will be able to create an easy-to-use interface that won't complicate people's lives.
Users have enough problems in their life, and if your product just adds more of them to their life, they just won't use it.
You focus on the main things
The discovery phase of a software project allows you to create a clear plan and outline the things to pay attention to. Thanks to it you will be able to see specific stages of the project and actions that should be taken. That is how you will eat the elephant one bite at a time.
You do your work faster
When the team has one plan to stick to and correctly divided tasks, they work without confusion and misunderstanding. It helps to smooth the way of dealing with assigned tasks effectively and without missed deadlines.
Main stages of the discovery phase of the project
Project phase discovery is quite a long process that often includes 3 steps. For sure, the number can vary depending on the project size.
The first thing that is done during software development planning is communication with the client. During this phase, the team of developers conducts an interview the purpose of which is to understand the expectations the client has. Oftentimes, such talking requires additional preparation from the applicant, that's why the project team sends points to discuss beforehand. They usually involve target audience analysis, competitor detection, project requirements, and business goals.
Then together with people who take part in the software development plan, they create a so-called customer journey map. Owing to this it will be clear how the user interacts with the product.
Making in-depth research by the team
After getting the information about the client's vision of the project, the discovery phase of project management comes to work.
During this, it is no longer the client who does the analysis, but a team of specialists. They study the target audience's needs, and advantages for people, if they choose, the proposed product. The software team also studies the main trends and what attracts people.
Thanks to this kind of analysis it will be easier to develop the app in further software implementation phases.
Conducting a workshop
As soon as all the needed information is gathered the project team can see the overview of the entire project and study it from different perspectives. At this part, the client participates in the meeting one more time. This gathering has a few purposes. The first one is to discuss the main phases of the software project, the goals and to see that both client and the project team have the same vision.
The second aim of the meeting is to approve the budget and deadlines.
How much time is spent in the discovery phase?
There's no set period for it as the discovery phase is agile and can take from one and a half to two weeks.
Most of the time, the deadlines are discussed during the second meeting between the client and the project team, when both of them can see the outlook and prospects. If the project is big enough, the project management discovery phase will take more time and can vary from two to even four months. However, in these long-term cases, several deadlines are usually set as the employed team will have more work to do which may involve the documentation process as well.
What Do You Get After the Discovery Phase Is Over?
Once you have finished the discovery phase of a software project, you will be sure that you have made a solid basement for future developments. To put it briefly, you will ease your future work in the next several ways:
You will see clear and achievable goals
The thing is that after thorough research all the aims that were hazy and ambiguous will become shaped and structured. That will help see business perspectives and whether you move in the right direction.
Furthermore, during the project itself, it will be useful in the decision-making process and the implementation of technical features.
You will sum up the budget and refuse unexpected spending
As all the project data will be gathered by specialists in one place, you will have a chance to see the things you should pay for and plan your budget. Thanks to the analysis you will have a look at discovery on stage and receive a detailed estimation of spending with written information on what money will be spent. As this step is provided, there will be no unexpected costs.
You will distinguish your product from the competitors
During the discovery phase of a software project, several competitor analyses are provided: one that is done by the client and another one by the discovery team. After that, you will know for sure what is in demand in the modern web market and will manage to imply technical features to your project that will make it stand out among the others using the new methodology of discovery life.
You will get the documents that will ensure a smooth and efficient development process
After the discovery phase of a software project, you will get a step-by-step plan with all deadlines that you can control. Also, you will see the responsibilities each person has and whether everyone performs the work at the highest level.
Deliverables from the Discovery Phase
When the first and one of the main phases of a software project is finished, you will have a few deliverables that will ease the further software implementation phases. The documents that you get include:
Development plan. In it, you will see small actions that have to be taken to achieve a big goal. Also, there will be clear deadlines by which everything should be done.
Technical requirements. These demands are usually made by the client and the project team before the stage of program development takes place. In this document, there will be information about the project’s features, technical objectives, and mechanisms that will be used to make the app useful for people.
UI/UX concept. It will show the problems that users may have and how they can be solved. There will also be some ways in which a user-friendly interface may be achieved and the concept of how people interact with the app.
User portfolio. This document provides information about the users. There will be written the target audience analysis and covered such questions as why people need your product, their goals, requirements, and what they pay attention to during their choice.
In this article, we've covered all the questions that you may have regarding
the discovery phase of a software project.If something remains unclear, you will find more information in these answers.