If you are starting a new technology project, you may already have a grand vision of the final product. However, you cannot always expect your idea will go according to plan. Each IT project you undertake has inherited risks as well as opportunities for your company. This is why you want to set yourself up for success in the beginning. You should invest in discovery for your IT projects.
When you align your business goals with technical needs at the beginning of the project, you put yourself in a much better position for success. And the best way to start a project is through a discovery phase. In this article, we discuss the basics of a discovery phase, its benefits, and why it is worth the cost.
What is a Discovery Phase?
The discovery phase precedes the development of a larger IT project and should be the first step IT managers take. It is the process of collecting information from all parties involved in the project to help better align the broader goals, vision, and scope of the end product. During the discovery phase, engaging conversations must take place between developers, IT managers, UX/UI designers, stakeholders, etc. The conversations recorded should point out key “discoveries” from the discussions, which IT managers can use to streamline the development process.
The central purpose of the discovery phase is to minimize potential risks and mistakes from the project, which saves both time and money. Likewise, the knowledge project managers gain from the discovery phase enables them to provide a well-tailored action plan that addresses the needs of the client or end-users. The discovery phase should document business requirements and technical requirements for the project, as well as key objectives. When your entire team is involved in the discovery phase from the start, it elevates project understanding and ensures stronger commitment and better performance from essential team members.
Benefits of the Discovery Phase
The insights project managers and team members gain from the discovery phase have inherent benefits to the project as a whole, especially when working on budget or time constraints. These include, but not limited to:
1. Aligning Project Goals with End-User Expectations
When you start the discovery process, you and your team need to ask themselves important questions relevant to the project. Such as, what are we trying to accomplish with this project? How will this application help our business? Or, how are we trying to impact end-users with our project? The list of questions could go on and on. However, they should be insightful and provide valuable information to the project’s goals.
When you ask these important questions, you work with your project team to find solutions that align development goals with end-user expectations that will undeniably create a better user experience. By establishing the “what” and the “why” behind your project, you have a broader sense of your business objectives. Not to mention, it minimizes misguided decisions throughout the development process.
2. Increasing Efficiency and Effectiveness
The reason why you define end goals, business objectives, product requirements, and feature specifications is to give your entire team a better understanding of the project as a whole, and not just a team member’s specific part. This is where the true value of the discovery process comes into play. By planning before the development process, you establish team member expectations for the project.
When everyone is on the same page, it increases the efficiency and effectiveness of the project among each member. Many IT projects operate on strict timelines, so you want operations running smoothly with minimal complications along the way.
3. Creating a More Precise Roadmap
When you determine the end goals for the project, you can then create a precise roadmap on how you will reach your final destination. Now, there is no doubt instances will occur when you have to stray from the initial roadmap. However, it is important to have a framework in place that team members can follow to eliminate any necessary confusion.
Having a precise roadmap ties back to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of team members. Likewise, it enables them to quickly adapt to any unforeseen issues. Not having one almost ensures there will be unnecessary headaches throughout the development journey.
4. Providing Better Business Solutions
The discovery process provides better business solutions due to the insightful information gathered from conversations. These solutions are based on the overall business goals and could be ones you did not initially think were possible. Likewise, they could be cheaper and even provide better results for the end product than initially expected.
Why the Benefits of Discovery Outweigh the Costs
The costs of the discovery process generally lie between 5-10%. Although that may seem like a significant portion of your project’s budget, the bottom line is better planning leads to more cost saving solutions. At the end of the day, you are creating a product that resonates with end-users. Sure, you could save some money by skipping the process and jumping straight into development. However, you seriously run the risk of hurting the final product, and thus user engagement. When push comes to shove, running a discovery phase for your project is a viable long term solution for your projects.
There is no doubt discovery can help your product development process. However, if unsure how to begin, that is where we can help. If you would like to learn more about the discovery process on your next IT project and how we can help, contact us today.