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What is the Discovery Phase and Why Your Project Needs It

What is the Discovery Phase and Why Your Project Needs It

Tracy Watson

15/10/2020

8 min read

discovery stage of software project

All of the inventions over the course of our history started out with an idea. For example, Thomas Edison understood the need for a lightbulb, identified the critical factors the final product needs to include, and conducted thousands of experiments before producing the final commercially viable incandescent lightbulb. If we fast forward 150 years to today’s marketplace, we see that the same steps apply, especially to complex software development projects. In order to make sure that your project is a commercial success, you need to start with the discovery phase. Let’s explore this in greater detail to understand what the discovery phase of the project is and what the benefits are. 

Project Discovery Overview

Project discovery will serve as the foundation for the entire software development project. The main goal here is to collect information about the project to identify the vision, goals, and scope. The reason this stage is so important is that careful analysis and planning at the very outset of the project can prevent costly failures down the road. A Mckinsey report illustrates some of the dangers of skipping the project discovery phase: 

  • 17% of projects go so bad they put the existence of the entire company in danger;
  • 45% of projects end up going over budget;
  • 7% of projects extend beyond the initial time frame and deliver;
  • 56% fewer benefits than expected. 
project discovery phase

If we delve deeper into the purposes of the discovery stage, it is easy to see why so many projects end up taking a turn for the worse, going over the initially set out time frame and budget. If you don’t have clear goals and requirements spelled out from the very beginning, there will be a lot of changes in direction and missed deadlines since there are no boundaries for the project. Also, the costs will keep adding up, and you will continuously miss deadlines, and, ultimately, you will end up with a project that does not meet your expectations. 

Fortunately, the discovery phase can mitigate the risks mentioned above and provide a lot of clarity and vision for the project. Let’s take a look at the benefits the discovery phase offers so your development teams can hit the ground running. 

Provide a Solid Foundation for Your Project

The project discovery phase will help you establish the project’s reason by diagnosing the business problem and analyzing the technical description of the project. This will allow you to reduce risks since everybody will have a clear understanding of the goals and requirements and can use this information to create accurate estimates for the time and budget. This is not something that can be done over the phone or through a written description of a business need since this does not provide a complete picture. Therefore, a lot of things are missing or are incorrectly interpreted in the provided estimates. 

Development Team Banner

During the discovery process, your project will get a lot of attention from skilled specialists to analyze your specific situation to determine the most critical factors: time, scope, and costs. The work performed at this stage will enable us to find out in which proportion these three factors are combined in your case, i.e., is it realistic to set deadlines? Should we develop all the features you mentioned regardless of their cost, or is there a budget limit you do not want to exceed? Should it be an MVP or a full functionality product you want to sell right away? Which level of complexity, security, etc. should we choose? Many other important questions must be answered during this stage. 

After all of the details have been analyzed, you will get a detailed explanation of how we suggest approaching the development, why we suggest such an approach, and why it is the most suitable for your situation and needs. Also, when more time and attention are given to the estimation, the more accurate it will be, instead of getting some high-level estimation, which can be misleading. 

discovery phase of project

Set Your Project on the Right Course With the Discovery Stage

All of the information collected and analyzed during the discovery phase will help you get a clear understanding of the scope, goals, and limitations. You will better understand the intended users, their needs, and how this will shape your requirements. Once all of the business information is collected, it will be used to create a document called the System Requirements Specifications (SRS), which will contain all of the information needed for development to begin. It is better to perform all of this research in the very beginning to avoid costly mistakes down the road, which can be so massive that they threaten the existence of the entire company, as we saw in the Mckinsey report. 

Skywell Software will guide you through the entire discovery stage to make sure everything is done correctly. Our analytics team will collect all of the needed information from you and conduct comprehensive research on this topic. Our professional software development team will discuss your project to clarify any uncertainties, and the entire process will be guided by our most experienced specialist in the field relevant to your request. We will then combine all of the information we collected and provide you with estimates, explanations, and suggestions of the most efficient ways to move forward with your case. If you have an idea for a new product, contact us today to launch the discovery stage and get your project off to a good start. 

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