A discovery phase is a must-have step in any software development project. Its goal is to define the project’s goal and scope accurately. Without it, there is a risk of developing a product that doesn’t meet the client’s needs and expectations.
Business analysts handle the discovery phase, analyze business goals, identify functional and non-functional requirements and optimize budget and time resources. This article will help anyone interested in software development services fully understand why they should include a software company in a discovery phase with business analysis.
Why should you include a software company in the discovery phase?
A discovery phase provides clients with a solid basis for further solution development. It helps organize the development process better and aligns clients’ business goals with their users’ needs. A software company can help business owners understand the more technical sides of their solution and define what they want to achieve with their product.
The software company can bring maximum value to your product, as it will analyze it from a different perspective. Thorough research and consultation with business analysts and developers can minimize the following risks:
- Missing the agreed deadline for releasing the product
- Developing a product that doesn’t meet the client’s needs
- Exceeding the budget
- Discovering issues and bugs at late stages of development
- Spending more time and money fixing the issues
What is a discovery phase?
The discovery phase aims to help software companies get a better picture of the product before the development begins. It also helps the client estimate resources, time, and money they will need to allocate for software development. The discovery phase is also a chance for clients to get to know the outsourcing team they will be collaborating with. It’s essential to have in-depth project discussions and keep regular communication with the development team.
This phase also encompasses market research and should provide answers to the following questions:
- Who is the product’s target audience?
- Where is the product’s place in the market?
- Who are your chief competitors?
- What budget will you need?
It is crucial to conduct in-depth market and competitor research. This research identifies business and user needs and reduces the risk of missed deadlines and unexpected expenses.
The discovery phase team – roles and responsibilities
However, the discovery phase is not only market research. It is also a technical stage and should involve the entire discovery phase team comprising the following specialists:
- Project Manager – in charge of the discovery phase project and ensuring stakeholders communicate effectively. The project manager should also prepare all the documentation needed for the discovery phase.
- Software/solution architect – responsible for creating software architecture and laying out the requirements for functionality and design. The solution architect selects a technology stack while considering the product’s performance and scalability.
- UI/UX designer – responsible for creating a wireframe and prototype according to UI/UX requirements. They should ensure the product’s usability and intuitive navigation.
- Business analyst – the role of a business analyst is a coordination role, as they are in charge of identifying gaps between business and IT and translating business goals into functional and non-functional requirements.
What is business analysis?
Business analysis is an integral part of the discovery phase. A business analyst should have extensive experience and understanding of the development process. Business analysts should also structure and present all gathered data meaningfully.
They should warn the clients about all possible challenges and estimate the viability of a client’s product. Business analysis ensures that the software company develops an end product in accordance with a client’s initial ideas. It covers the following areas that can impact the software development project:
Determining demand for your solution
According to one of the leading marketing principles, every product should solve some customers’ problems. The product should tackle as many customers’ problems as possible to be successful. In other words, there should be a business need for your solution.
Business analysts should find the purpose of each client’s requirement. They should explain which features can contribute to clients’ business needs and which may be useless and even harm them financially.
Determining demand for your solution is essential for further product development. It helps the entire development team get a clearer picture of what solution the client wants to get. The client’s vision of the product should be in line with technical solutions that are possible and reasonable to develop.
In addition to analyzing their client’s needs, business analysts also need to research their client’s competitors. They should look closely at solutions and features already available on the market and find the tools that end users value most. Business analysts need to determine the competitors’ size, their market share, and the frequency of product releases.
It’s vitally important that a business analyst suggests the best competitive advantage for the client’s project. Sometimes, the market is saturated, and a new product won’t stand a chance to compete with major companies.
What are discovery phase deliverables?
Both the client and the development team will benefit from thoughtfully prepared documentation that will help them validate essential project details. Discovery phase deliverables ensure everyone is on the same page as they work out the final requirements. Discovery phase deliverables commonly include:
- A vision and scope document – this document should define the client’s vision and the steps necessary to reach that vision while taking into account the client’s budget, market trends, and competitors’ services.
- User flow/user journey map – this document should help us better understand how the user interacts with the product. It includes users’ steps and actions to achieve a specific result.
- User personas – it is a portrait of a typical user of the product that helps the development team better understand end users’ needs and features that are wanted and needed.
- Backlog documentation – it includes a software requirements specification (SRS) given to the client for approval. The documentation should also outline a recommended tech stack, prototypes, or mockups that complement the SRS.
At the end of the project discovery phase, the client should know the project cost estimation, recommended team composition, and work breakdown structure. The client should rest assured that their development partner will deliver the final product within a specified timeframe.
What are the benefits of the discovery phase?
In addition to eliminating many potential risks associated with the lack of product-market fit and disharmony on the team, the discovery phase brings other considerable benefits, such as:
- Forming a deep understanding of the project goals and product’s purpose
- Establishing communication and trust between clients and developers
- Creating an effective roadmap and timeline
- Reduced and managed risks of missed deadlines and unexpected expenses
- Optimized project costs
There needs to be more than a breakthrough idea and an effective marketing strategy to deliver a successful product. About ninety percent of all startups fail, according to the latest statistics. Many startups fail due to insufficient planning and underrating different risks.
A discovery phase with business analysis identifies possible pitfalls and finds ways to prevent them at the early stages. The discovery phase lays a foundation for your product and directly impacts its future success. If you are looking for a highly-qualified software vendor that will help you build a software product, conduct the discovery phase, and develop a well-planned strategy, that’s exactly what we do at Sipod. Contact us and launch the discovery phase for your product with our technical experts.