What is the discovery phase? How does it help to make the product successful and minimize risks?

discovery phase in software development: cover

Before you start building a product, it’s important to get a clear understanding of the result that you would like to get in the end. What are the user needs, what are the requirements for features and visuals, and what are the desired budget and timelines? And most importantly, is the product worth developing at all? Of course, at the initial stage, it is hard to realize whether the project is going to become successful or not. But there are tools designed to help you see how the future product would work and look before the development is finished. At the stage of discovery you can set the project goals and estimate the cost of developing the product.

Why is the project discovery phase vital for software development?

The product discovery process definition is essentially the stage of figuring out what the end result is going to be. If you pay a lack of attention to discovering your product, you may fail with the final cost of the work and not get the product you want. That’s why this step shouldn’t be skipped. At this stage, the team identifies the basic product requirements, analyzes your business goals, and makes a competitor discovery to find the solution that moves you ahead of the competition in the market. IT agencies often have specialists called business analysts who can help you understand more about your product. It is much more convenient to work with an outsourced team, as you do not have to search for an analyst on the side. This way, analysts and developers work in tandem to delve into the idea of your product in more detail.

Getting into the software development processes is a tough task — you can learn more about them in our Stories and articles.

The first thing that the company should do at the discovery stage, is define what the client expects from the product. Before they make a technical offer, they make sure to clarify the client’s needs as much as possible and compile a document that describes all the requirements.

By clarifying the requirements, it’s possible to determine the amount of work and resources needed. Thanks to this approach, it is less likely that you will need to allocate an extra budget for development. It also helps ensure that the client receives high-quality software developed to meet their needs.

What does the discovery phase help with?

Testing the idea. Determine if the project is feasible and if it is even worthwhile. It helps create a valuable, customer-focused product.

Planning the budget. Having a clear plan for project development to keep the team on track makes iterations more predictable and protects against additional costs and pitfalls.

Answering the question WHY. The more clearly articulated the project goals are, the more likely the final product meets the customer’s requirements.

How can we better meet the client’s needs? Find them out. When the team members know exactly what the client wants, they can share their expertise to find the best solution for the customer.

Measuring the product’s success. By defining success metrics you can set goals and milestones for your product’s growth. For example, how many users would buy a premium subscription to your app?

What happens during the discovery phase of a software project?

Here are the main app analysis tools you can use in the discovery phase.

  1. Mindmap. The development team creates a mindmap to define the user roles in the application and visualize the requirements using a linkage diagram. Mindmap helps to understand the scope of the project, the number of roles and modules, and to define the limits of the future project.
    discovery phase in software development: mind map
  2. Customer journey map. It’s a visual representation of the different points of user interaction. Such a map is created by considering how the users might behave and how they reach the end point of their &quotjourney&quot through your app. For example, if you are developing an app for psychological counseling, the end result of using the app will be scheduling an appointment and receiving counseling.
    discovery phase in software development: customer journey map
  3. User flow. To determine how the user will interact with the interface of the new product, a user flow is created as a schematic representation of the screens of the software solution and the transitions between them. It can be a diagram showing the path the user takes in the application to perform a task.
    discovery phase in software development: user flow
  4. User stories. The main thing here is to define what task each feature solves. If there is no task for a feature, users probably don’t need it at all. User stories allow the customer to effectively prioritize the implementation of product functionality.
    discovery phase in software development: user stories
  5. Wireframes. At this stage, the designer creates each screen of the app. It does not necessarily have to be done in the discovery phase, but wireframes can be super useful when it comes to demonstrating an idea to an investor, letting users test the product, and gathering feedback.
    discovery phase in software development: wireframe


Let’s briefly describe how the discovery phase helps manage your project.

  • Define app requirements and budget expectations.
  • Get a clear cost estimate based on the discovery phase deliverables.
  • Test the first version of the project and get feedback.
  • Make the entire team achieve a common understanding of the project.
  • Reduce the chance of making mistakes and spending extra budget on the project.
  • Identify aspects of the development that were obvious at first glance.

We don’t recommend skipping the product analysis phase, as it allows you to capture the entire project, figure out how it would work in the end, and gather requirements to estimate the timeframe and costs.

As we have already mentioned, product analysis requires the knowledge of business analysts experienced in software development. Ronas IT team will take you on the development journey, from the initial call, gathering app expectations, and performing product estimation to the release to the App Store and Google Play and post-release support. Learn more about Ronas IT services and contact us.

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