Developing impeccable software is everyone’s dream destination. However, the journey that a developer takes to reach this destination defines the success rate. It is not a surprise, but most of the projects fail because they miss the deadline, there is a communication gap, the project is way out of the budget, the functionality and design aspect has gone for a toss, the software has malfunctions, or the user did not connect with it. 
Research conducted by McKinsey in collaboration with the University of Oxford exudes that more than 45 percent of the large IT projects exceed their original estimate. Almost 17 percent of the project are so bad, that they can easily crumble the organization. And about 7 percent of the projects are handed over time while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted. This means skipping the initial phase of software development leads to great hazards. 

All these can give a hard time to the CEO of the company. While these problems may seem inevitable, there exists a solution. If you commence your project in the right way, the end will be the start of something beautiful. In essence, the success rate can escalate if you begin your project with the discovery phase. This article will throw light on the importance of the discovery phase, activities included in this phase, its deliverables and more. 

What is a discovery phase? 

Clarity improves connection and engagement, further strengthening the trust as it provides transparency. The discovery phase does just the same. It provides a foundation for the software development process. And the blueprint it lays down makes the establishment of the project stronger than ever. 

  • Questions that should be discussed during this phase.
  1. Motive behind developing the software.
  2. Possible target audience.
  3. Expectation and impact of the software. 
  4. Interface features. 
  5. Which technology should be used? 
  6. Start and end time of the project. 
  7. Platforms that this software will be released on. 
  8. Client’s definition of success for this project.

Discovery phase can last somewhere four to eight weeks. Upon the analysis of the gathered information, the team gets an idea of the market, target audience, scope, goal, intention, risk mitigation, rough budget, architecture, and functionality. In this team effort, a lot of brainstorming takes place. Meetings can last up to 2-3 hours. The expert team consists of a business analyst, solution architect, web developer, designer, account manager and team lead.

Why is the discovery phase beneficial for software development? 

The key benefits of going through a discovery phase are immense. This mandatory and crucial step will attract several advantages.

  • Provides a clear picture 

What this stage provides is clarity of the scope to the selected team members. When you understand the company’s values you will get a clear idea of why they wish to develop this software. With this identifying the market and target audience, adds to your expertise. This whole process strengthens your vision, provides a roadmap, lays a foundation, and helps you evolve in industry standards and practices.

  • Cost optimization 

An in-depth analysis helps you curate a perfect plan and design. In doing so, you will get an idea of an approximate budget that this software needs from ideation to fruition. If the budget falls in your budget slab, then well and good. If not, you can come up with ways to make this project fit your expectation. 

  • Risk mitigation 

Taking risks is commendable. But coming up with a plan to avoid risks that will hamper your software’s success is a dream. The discovery phase ultimately helps in reducing the risks as it provides a clear understanding of the goal. The phase reduces the risk of missed deadlines by a whopping 75 percent. This, in turn, will help in cost savings by almost 50 percent.

  • Improves your industry expertise

Market research and analysis prepares you for the best. This adds to your advantage by giving you the edge to perform better. As research involves understanding the industry, it strengthens your foundation by bridging the gaps. This phase keeps you on your toes.

Other benefits of the discovery phase are:

  • Helps you use time and other resources efficiently.
  • Gives you an idea of the launch date.
  • All the groundwork pushes you to come up with a striking plan. 
  • Gives an idea of how the product will look.
  • Gives transparency.
  • Builds trust and relationship. 

What if this phase is skipped? 

We have already mentioned the perks of undergoing the discovery phase. However, some wish to skip this phase and directly get to business. Little do they know about what lies on another side of not taking up this phase. Abandoning this phase during software development has the following consequence:

  • The project will instantly crumble.
  • Time and other resources will be wasted. 
  • The project will run in an endless loop. 
  • It will fail in meeting the deadline. 
  • The stakeholders’ expectations will never be met. 
  • The budget will go for a toss.

Actions to be completed during the discovery phase

Working meticulously in this phase makes the rest a cakewalk. Come with a solid process to ace this phase. Not a lot of people say this but begin by understanding your company’s objective. Once you are sure of what you can offer, it becomes a tad bit easy to understand what the stakeholder is looking for. The activities that should be included in this phase are:

  • Communicate and comprehend

Communication is key at every step in this phase. To get a hang of the project, having a one-on-one conversation with the CEO or other senior staff will give a clear idea of what is to be done. It is recommended to have a clear set of questions that the stakeholders should answer. Have a friendly approach. It will not only lighten the situation and allows the stakeholder to open up about what’s at stake.  

  • Use industry standards

User behaviour may vary. However, some set industry standards can be used as a benchmark to attain the goal. It will help you gauge your performance and give you a chance to up your game. Study and analyze your competitors. Take up case studies and come up with a full-proof plan. 

  • Wear the customer’s shoes

To master the art of making flawless software one must know exactly what the users are looking for. This increases the technical efficiency and helps to put up a great marketing campaign. 

  • In-depth analysis 

By this time, having clear documentation of your progress so far in the discovery phase should be ready. It should contain the vision, stakeholders’ expectations, marketing strategy and a legacy code. Take time to analyze this so that stepping forward becomes effortless.

  • It’s go time

After enough contemplation and research, develop a prototype with the available data. By now, the team will have a blueprint of the architecture and SRS. With the trial and error method, the result will be spectacular.
With all the steps followed to the tee, it is now time to showcase your hard work to the stakeholder. If things go well, the software developers are free to go ahead with the next and final step. 

Tips to make the most of the discovery phase

  • Communication is the key.
  • Interact with everyone.
  • Setup a great team
  • Everyone in the team is important. Value their suggestions. 
  • Commit to your goal.
  • Research to the fullest. 
  • Map your journey.
  • Be open to new ideas.
  • Be grounded.

Concluding remarks

By now, it is clear the discovery phase is the most crucial phase that lays the foundation of the project. The discovery phase gives a chance for the software to become a hit.  Everything depends on how you begin with the project. The discovery phase has a lot to offer, so make the most of it. Have a software idea? Let our team do the rest. 

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