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The decision has been made, you’re setting up your business.

Overall you have the idea that will bring value to the market and your customers. It’s time to start the development process by choosing an appropriate partner for the journey. A one that will guide the whole dev team to create a valuable solution and launch it to the market. A one that will tackle all the challenges and advise on the road. A one that will take care of your software development project and support you along the way. 

Product Discovery Phase: Why do you need it in your business?

Many business owners tend to send messages to dozens of software companies with queries about the ballpark estimate for the project to compare the offers ‘apples to apples’. Meanwhile what they receive, of course allows them to compare, but to compare ‘apples to oranges’. 

Where lies the tricky part and why do proposals differ? It all starts with what you provide them with.

To receive a fully  detailed project estimate that will be reliable through the development process, you have to be aware of every piece of your solution. It’s the only way to create a proper project budget taking into account risks and challenges on your way. You’re the one knowing all the background, make sure that a software company knows exactly what is on your mind. Otherwise, you will receive a bunch of different estimates for a simple reason - each development team will have in mind something else, only assuming your needs. Write your project’s requirements down.


What is an Agile Discovery Phase?

Very often I come across solutions that are not quite defined yet. 

There is always an idea behind the project. The only thing missing is the development strategy and the written project background to easily pass it to your partner without misunderstandings. 

A Discovery Phase is a process of focusing on each piece of the project and nailing down all the details of it. Your project is the last thing to be left with unsaid details and misinterpretation. 

Discovery Phase is all about getting to know your target audience needs, writing down requirements and creating a full scope for the project. It’s the first basic step to obtain a reliable budget and development timeline estimation. It’s a solid plan for your project that helps you avoid unexpected surprises (such as bigger costs, extended timeline) during the actual development. 

Discovery Phase helps to eliminate many uncertainties and significantly reduces the overall risk of the project. It is also a guide for software vendors, an official scope documentation they can estimate in a reliable way. As a product owner, you are investing your time and money into the software development process. Project Discovery Phase that contains business analysis is here to rescue you from failure.

All Benefits of Discovery Phase:

Gathering all the data before the software development process is a smart business move. The product Discovery Phase will give you an edge over the competition. The research conducted by the development team will provide you with information that:

01 Will shape your business goals.

Discovery Phase will provide you with many answers, among them are your business goals for the product. It will help in making decisions about project’s stages, must-have features, supported platforms and the general vision for the future. All the data in one place will give you the possibility to think through the journey you'll be about to begin and define scenarios for software development, basing on the solid information rather than guesswork.

02 Will help you create an exact scope for your software development project

A dedicated team of Railwaymen’s experts, including developers, UX/UI designers and project managers will dive into the project and extract the scope for development. 

You will have the base to share with potential partners where all your needs are listed in details. It will save the time and money for communication and narrowing the details with each partner individually, left alone the place for assumptions. 

03 Will help you estimate the time and budget properly. Without unexpected costs

Having the exact flow and scope of the project will save your product from the ballpark’s estimates and undefined timeline. Your partner will obtain a solid set of information needed for an exact estimation. Thanks to Discovery Phase, you will receive a detailed estimate of each part of the app project, and you’ll have the certainty that all is being covered. It will leave no place for misunderstandings and unexpected costs or prolonged launch delays. Black on white, a good piece of documentation.

04 Will expose your users’ needs and behaviors and provide you with the flow

While thinking about the product, for sure you know who your target audience is. However, during a Discovery Phase, a precise research is being conducted. How do your users behave? What is he/she looking for? What bothers him/her? How will they use the product? 

Knowing your customers allows you to create a customer journey (the work of a UX Designer is needed here) and avoid client's frustrations while using the product. Whether you want to develop a mobile or web application, you need to know how to attract a target audience and keep them in the long-term. Product Discovery Phase is here to help you.

05 Will distinguish your product from competitors

Yes, we’ll have a good look at competitors too. Mostly to check what functionalities should be covered to make sure your product will stand out from the crowd and become noticeable for the target audience. Not only we’ll revise other products in terms of functionalities, but also from the UX/UI point.

Business analyst of competitors is essential to enter the market successfully. Users want a unique, high-quality digital product with a great user experience. That's why during Discovery Phase, we focus on finding those key factors that will distinguish your product.

06 Will be the base to create wireframes / clickable prototype

Depending on the Discovery Phase type you choose, our team members will prepare a set of wireframes or clickable prototypes for your digital product. It is an important step during your project lifecycle. Having all the needed knowledge will allow us to create an interface that shows the business logic, space and content prioritization.

 

Workshops with a dedicated development team are included in Discovery Phase

Working with our clients for over 11 years allowed us to build a solid discovery process. That's why Discovery Phase at Railwaymen consists of essential 2 elements:

  • Workshops with a client
  • Internal work of Railwaymen’s team in collaboration with a client

We believe those two parts complement each other in the best way possible. By collaborating strictly with our client and simultaneously performing internal research on the project, we’ve created a unique solution that guarantees perfect communication between both teams.

Product Discovery Phase: Why do you need it in your business?

Workshops and update meetings can be held either remotely or in Railwaymen’s office. You are invited to join creative sessions with your project’s dedicated project team.

Who takes part in the Discovery Phase? We ensure a professional project team:

  • Developer,
  • UX Designer,
  • Business/Project Manager.

On our blog, you can find the whole article that describes the role of every team member, but let me briefly explain why we need them.

The developer gives us a technical point of view over the project by proposing features and technology solutions. UX Designer aims to focus on user experience that will ensure a pleasant and easy-to-use product. Business/Project Manager plans and coordinates the whole discovery process, keeping in mind the project's business goals.

Types of Discovery Phase at Railwaymen:

As the needs of our clients vary depending on the project, there is a possibility to choose the type of Discovery Phase that is most suitable for your business.

  1. Free initial Program (Two/Three hours of creative work, strongly focused on the MVP scope)
  2. Classic Program (Choosing the most appropriate DP)
  3. * DP part 1 (Focused on Personas/User Story Journeys, duration: 44hrs)
  4. * DP part 2 (Focused on Features/Functionality Flow, duration: 49hrs)
  5. * DP part 3 (Focused on Wireframes, duration: 57h)
  6. Premium Program (Covering all components, duration: 150hrs)

Types of Discovery Phase at Railwaymen

Each program focuses on similar project’s aspects, however differs in overall duration, team participation and the final outcome. Depending on the program, Discovery Phase can take up to 150 hours and last 1-2 months. 

For obtaining details regarding programs, please send me an email at joanna.brzezinska@railwaymen.org or book a call via the calendar.

After each program, our every client obtains solid written documentation that allows them to move forward with the app development process.

 

What will you get after the Discovery Phase? Among the program’s deliverables are:

01 Background Research

The background research period is important because it gives answers to the most critical questions. What is your core business? What is the primary purpose of the app idea? Does it solve any problem? During the Discovery Phase, we focus on your business goals. It is a kind of business analyst that helps the product owner to clarify the final app vision. This vision should be based on intense research. Thanks to the product discovery phase you will be 100% sure that your app is something right.

02 User Personas & User Story Journeys

Personas are fictional characters, which you create based on the research in order to represent the different user types that might benefit from your service. User stories focus on the perspective of the end-users. It is an important part of a business analyst.

At the end of this phase, you’ll obtain a greater understanding of your target audience, its size, their mobile behaviors, needs, and willingness to pay for your product. You will also receive the analysis of competitors that will help you to determine features essential for your future product.

03 Scope for the project

Many non-technical people are not able to define the scope of the project. It requires technological knowledge. Discovery Phase is here to help you. Our development team will help you create a scope for your app project, advising from both the business and tech side.

We will provide guidance in project stage division and list down functionalities for an MVP, keeping in mind the final goal. Such consultancy services help in prioritizing and shaping the product at each stage of its development. The size of the project has a huge impact on the app development cost estimate.

04 Lo-Fi Wireframes

Wireframes (interface sketches) provides a clear overview of the page structure, layout, information architecture, functionality, and intended behaviors. It usually represents the initial product concept, styling, color, and graphics. Wireframes are an important part of the discovery process because it outlines the main product idea. We have the 3 types of it, low, medium & high fidelity wireframes.

Low fidelity wireframes are the most basic visualization and are not interactive. They aim to help team members visualize the early concept of the design project. Medium fidelity wireframes are a little bit more realistic than low fidelity wireframes. UX Designers create it in a monochrome or grayscale palette. High fidelity wireframes are the most advanced. They are interactive and represent the end version of the product.

Discovery Phase - low, medium & high fidelity wireframes

05 Technical & Non-technical Requirements

This part of the Product Discovery Phase includes an analysis done by an experienced project team that presents how your idea can be achieved technologically. Doing it before the development part will prepare you for any possible problems or tough parts of the project. This lets you prioritize the features of your product from the very beginning before any issues arise. Non Technical requirements include HIPAA, GDPR discussion, etc.

06 Detailed development timeline & budget estimation

The budget and timeline of the project are something that interests future app owners the most. At the end of the Discovery Phase, our team will provide you with a detailed cost & time estimation, based on the established details. Having all the background information will allow us to prepare a solid and reliable plan for further app development stages.

Why do you need a Discovery Phase? Success Story - Cost Tracker

 

Why your business needs a Discovery Phase? The final outcome

A Discovery Phase is an important research period that should precede every app development process. It is a helpful tool that provides you with all the well-thought-out information gathered in one place by a professional team with years of product development experience.

You're equipped with a strong development plan that will help you evaluate your partners and collaboration proposals. Thanks to the details listed out by our team, you know what you should focus on first and where the plan will lead you eventually. Conducted research will authenticate business goals and a place for a product in the market.

Thanks to the Product Discovery Phase you'll be well prepared to move forward with a clear business vision about the final product and a written technical specification.

Wonder how Discovery Phase looks like on a real app example? We have a free ebook that explains all details: