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Discovery Workshops: Why is it important to describe the product to build?

13-05-2021 8 min read

Discovery Workshops: Why is it important to describe the product to build?

At the discovery workshop meeting

You have a great idea about creating a game-changing application in your industry. At the meeting with your co-workers or stakeholders, you start talking about a new product that can change your clients' lives, and after the pitch, you look at the faces of colleagues. Audience members have a million questions about teams, goals, tools that you will use in the development process, user journeys maps, project management, and finally: Do you have a specific scope and plan to actually build that app?

If you have solid and specific answers to those questions, cool. If not...  you are in the first phase of defining your vision about a digital product, the project plan, and your end-user requirements for that solution. Make sure to ask your audience how well they understand your idea. Is everyone on the same page? In all likelihood that answer is NO.

Projects always have a foundation. In the software development cycle, the first phase is discovery. We focus on discovering the values of your target group using workshops to create the plan, goals, metrics, initial work scope, budget, role, and how this will be achieved in a specific time. 

Discovery workshops are the best practice of successful products!

It's not enough to have a great idea and create a well-engineered product. At least as important is determining that your product is valuable, usable, and feasible. If you have an idea about building a product but don’t know what the first obligation is to your ideal user, I tell you with 100% certainty that you need to participate in discovery workshops to recognize the foundations on which to build a new reality! It will be helpful for your stakeholders to better understand the meaning of the product, and that will shape solid business and product goals.

No one buys a product just because they want to give away their money. Customers buy and use a product only if that product addresses their needs.  Discovery Workshops will help you define their needs.

What do I get from a Discovery Workshop?

In general, the results from Discovery Workshops will allow you to:

  • Grasp the idea of the client’s business model
  • Build a shared foundational understanding of the product – and its stand-out features
  • Shape solid business and product goals
  • Address key UX and technology risks
  • Define the metrics to monitor and evaluate the progress of the work.

Why should I participate in a Discovery Workshop?

We've already talked about the product foundation, but what exactly do we mean by that? To understand the project you need to define the key requirements of your end-user. For example, you want to create an application with functionality that will be a core differentiating feature from your competition. And this functionality is a real problem solver for your clients. But is this enough knowledge to run a business?

You need to describe the functionality and behavior of the product to be built, and how it will be implemented.  In the discovery phase of the project, you are defining important information about the product vision and purpose, goals and the primary aim of the product, target audience (user personas), processes, tools, technologies, users flows, users stories, user experience, building order, budget, and timeline. The discovery deliverable must describe the full user experience, not just the product requirements but also the user interaction and visual design.

The goal is to define the simplest possible product that will meet your goals, known as the Minimum Viable  Product!

By thinking strategically, you can make sure the product you’re building will be aligned with your goals, increasing the odds that your company will be successful upon launch.

Benefits of discovery workshops

Unambiguous

The main benefit is that the product team gets a specification that effectively and unambiguously describes the product they need to build. They can refer to the product specification any time they’re confused about how something is supposed to behave. The job of Quality Assurance (QA) is also made easier, as they now know what should happen when they test the actual product. Sales and marketing can learn about products earlier! And you have an important piece of your pitch deck/presentation for capital raising efforts.

You will have the whole scope of the product, divided into easily understandable project stages. After the discovery workshop, your team can easily start the initial work. Designers, engineers, UX/UI, and management stakeholders will know exactly what they can expect from a completed product.

The Discovery Workshop answers the key question: will my product be creating value for the end-user? Is this is achievable with the technology, time, and funds currently available? Are we understanding the problems of our clients? 

The specification you give the team describes a winning product. 

Reduced overall costs

A discovery workshop can spare you from investing your time and money in a product that is not feasible right now. This is exactly what happened recently with one of our clients that had an idea about a web application. After the first session, it was very clear that his business plan was not feasible at this moment in time. That discovery workshop immediately warned our client that the entire solution was not worth pursuing and therefore saved him significant time and money.

If your product is indeed feasible, after the workshop, your team will know exactly what to accomplish to meet your expected goals. This will help save time and money because your software development efforts will be more focused and efficient. Putting more time in upfront will save costs later on in the development cycle.

Increased production speed

If the requirements and the design are being figured out on the fly, it will take much longer than originally thought to build your product.  Without a roadmap, your software development team will constantly be asking you what they should do, or worse, they won't ask and will decide for themselves.

Minimized risk and issues

When you collaborate with an experienced software development company, they will know what type of risks to look out for.  They will require a discovery workshop before getting started with coding and design.  This will help lower project risk.

A precise roadmap for your project

Thanks to a discovery workshop you will have a detailed plan for your project team which contains User Stories, Use Cases, Technologies, Functionalities. Conducting your software development process will be much more predictable. Objectives will be defined with diligence. The development team will know all the information required for your solution and project to be successful.

The discovery workshop deliverable is documentation, which you will receive at the completion of the process.

Definition of your MVP

If you want to start a new business and you want to validate your idea before investing a lot of money in the project, we recommend building a Proof of Concept/Minimum Viable Product. Checking your business, in reality, is the next step that would verify and test your project. After the pre-seed stage, you can engage your stakeholders in the next fundraising round.

Timeline and budget

We know that it is important for you to plan the time and budget of the project, so after the discovery workshop, you will receive a detailed schedule of how long it will take to create individual elements and their price.

Documentation and attachment to the agreement

After the Discovery workshop, you will receive project documentation that is your property. You can request a quote from another software development company or a freelancer. Your team, if you have one or want to create one, will know exactly what you want.

Plan for your potential investor

The workshop is great for a company that wants to get funding for development from venture capital or angel investors. It is a document that is understandable to everyone involved, and once you add the results to your pitch deck, you have a whole plan that will educate your potential investor.

What have I done before the discovery workshop?

Ask your potential users about the concept and take from them telephone numbers and emails! That will be your testing team :) This is very important because you have to face your initial ideas as the high-fidelity prototype with them. In sessions with potential customers, you will have chances to figure out if you defined good opportunities, you will discover feelings (true!) about your digital product.

Search information about the market, specialization, IT providers, and every knowledge which you can use during the discovery workshop and after!

Think about your goals and how to measure them. What kind of resources will you need?

What should I do after the discovery phase?

After the discovery workshop, you can ask your team or IT providers for an estimate of the project. You have a scope of the project, you know what tech stack you will want to project teamwork. You can begin creating an application! 

The discovery workshop is a very important element of creating software. A large number of projects fail due to poor or no documentation. This protects you and the team with whom you will implement the project. Core project must be well described, listing existing solutions, that is your competition, or considerations that you can use is also helpful. A well-defined digital product is something everyone likes to work with - teams of developers, QA, designers, and founders themselves.

If the system provides the expected functionality, but its architecture is not correlated with what is happening in business, a change in requirements (or new surprising requirements) can overturn upside-down architecture. For this reason, programmers, designers, architects should know and understand exactly how business works for which they create software. Lack of knowledge about business for technical people costs a lot, but it's a lot.

Unfortunately, these are hidden costs that usually end with excuses: the customer does not know what he wants, the requirements are imprecise, the customer constantly changing requirements etc.

Entering the client's domain means: think like the client, evaluate the usefulness of solutions just like a client, almost being a client. Whenever you will formulate the expected functionality, acceptance test, need, always ask yourself: Whose functionality is this: mine or client? Whose test is it: mine or the client? Whose need is it: mine or client?

This is how we work with our clients. We start with the "Entry Discovery Workshop", which lasts 4 hours and we adjust the plan to conduct the entire workshop for the client.

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