The discovery phase is a term that speaks for itself: to discover, to make the unknown - known and the invisible - visible.
What is that special about discovery phase
The very first goal of discovery phase is to determine the optimal architecture and functionality of a future system, defining what is redundant and what is essential to a project in a way that will satisfy stakeholders’ vision. This is where the experience and knowledge make a big difference.
Even if the idea of the project comes in a shiny package with a lot of details to it, it does not mean that a creator has considered all the possible nuances. There is always something a project owner was not able to notice due to the lack of knowledge or experience. A person could not be a professional in every field regarding the developing a successful product. The life is too short to know everything that is required.
In the competitive world of digital business, even the slightest change may make a big difference. That’s why it is important to find people who can help to polish your idea and make it a viable and accurate plan, which can be easily materialized.
Just imagine all the amount of data that should be analyzed in order to shape such a plan. Market grows continuously, so this process gets more complicated with time. Just compare this data as of March, 2017 to this one as of first quarter of 2018.
Furthermore, nobody likes to pay more than it is required. On the contrary, paying less may sound like an attractive proposition, but in reality, it may result in an insufficient quality of the product. Nobody wants their projects to be incompatible with the high standards of the modern market.
This is why the second goal of the discovery phase is to estimate the project development costs.
The software development is a complex process that involves a lot of different tools and technologies and employees who mastered them to get the work done properly. Therefore, estimating costs is a task that cannot be performed “by eye.”
In addition, it is better when a company that conducts the discovery phase, is also a company that will develop a product because it knows its team well and how much time it will take the team to develop a reliable and efficient solution. In this case, the costs estimation will be as accurate as possible.
It does not mean that otherwise, the estimation of costs would be done wrong. It simply means that if a single company does everything from the scratch by itself, the results will be more accurate.
However, you should remember that the discovery phase is a standalone product, and it can be developed by a third party who can then pass it to another company as a plan this company can follow while developing a product.
So, the goals of the discovery phase are clear but imagine all the skills and abilities that are required to achieve them. People dedicate significant chunks of their professional lives to mastering this process, which includes:
- Assessment and Requirement Elicitation
- Interaction Design
- Preparation for Development
And each of these stages is comprised of smaller ones and requires a perceptive and clever mind to get done properly.
Symbiosis of Different Worlds
It is difficult to find a company that is able to conduct a professional and scrupulous discovery phase considering the slightest nuances of a business solution. If an organization is famous for creating reliable and flexible software solutions, it does not mean that it is able to provide a good discovery. On the other hand, a great business consulting company without technical expertise cannot do so either.
Why? Because discovery phase is a symbiosis of both. And only a company where technical expertise and business expertise coexist in a harmony is able to provide you with the most competent discovery phase.
Think for yourself, how it is possible to analyze the product regarding the market realities without business professionals? Or how it is possible to analyze its technical aspects without technical experts?
Finally, a company that develops your product/conducts the discovery phase should be as interested in the success of a project as you are. Otherwise, it would not be able to provide a viable result.
In this case, when you are outsourcing your solution, you are paying not only for the process of development but for the business expertise of people who want to make your idea a reality.
Yes, you could start developing your project without conducting a discovery phase. But, it’s like jumping into the water from a cliff while not knowing how the seabed looks like.
If you want to object this argument with an example of a company that succeeded without this “fancy discovery phase,” I’ll kindly remind you of a survivorship bias.