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Discovery Phase of a Software Project: The Purpose and Steps

Discovery or scoping phase refers to the initial stage of software development whereby the chief focus is on getting to know the end-user, clarifying project vision, scope, and goals, and identifying risks.

As such, during the discovery phase of a software project, the project team researches, collects, and assesses project details to plan the complete product development cycle.

This is the stage that also points out whether the concept of the product is usable, feasible, and viable.

And on that note, read on to know the purpose and steps involved in the discovery phase.

Purpose of the discovery phase

Before moving on to the steps, it is important to understand the need for this phase. So, the discovery phase serves five major purposes for any software project.

  • Determining business goals, requirements, and product vision
  • Discussing possible product architecture to attain certain business goals
  • Mitigation of developmental costs
  • Identifying and downplaying potential risks
  • Creating precise product development roadmap

Thus, any IT consultation service or expert will suggest not skipping the discovery phase of a software project. It is a win-win both for the client who will be able to explain their expectations and for the developers that will understand the requirements and get the full picture about the future product.

Six steps followed in the discovery phase of a project

The discovery phase workflow is based on the approach taken by a product development agency. Usually, the process contains the following 6 steps.

 1. Collection of necessary information

Outlining the target audience

It is important to ask the following questions to better understand the end-user:

  • Who exactly are your clients?
  • What are their needs, problems, and pains?
  • What is their thinking process?
  • How is the product helpful to them?
  • How can the company connect with the users?

These questions have to be repeatedly asked until the target audience is clearly defined.

Communicating with the stakeholders

All the interested parties, along with the senior management, have to be involved in future software project discussions. This step involves conducting interviews, document collection, setting KPIs, and several other related metrics.

Market analysis

Successful businesses are based on a simple truth – 1 percent of idea and 99 percent of execution. Thus, whether it’s a custom software development company or any team involved in the discovery phase, planning and analyzing is crucial. The project discovery phase cannot proceed without market analysis and research.

It helps the company select a niche, choose the correct financial model, figure out a business strategy, and assess the prospects.

Competitor research

Now is the time to analyze the competitors, learn from their mistakes, embrace their best practices, and perform better.

2. Structuring the ideas

This step is about structuring all the details to clearly find the best solutions for developing a certain product. Structuring the ideas is crucial to move on to the next phase.

3. Creating the product requirement document

The third step is all about forming the product requirement documents. It includes every tech specification for the product release. It involves listing out the necessary functionality for future software products.

4. Creation of the wireframe for the software project

Wireframes are the basic framework in web design and software development. They are basically optically refined models which showcase a version of the ultimate design.

The wireframe made at this point helps in determining the primary position of different components. The aesthetic details are taken into account at a later stage.

5. Defining project scope and developmental preparations

This is the stage to collect all the tech documents. Technical documents refer to a complete set of documents describing creation, configuration, installation, and usage of software. Also, it includes the suggestions about product architecture and code audit.

Product architecture refers to the structure outlining the entire project and displays the functional elements of software interaction.

6. Estimation of time and costs for product development roadmap

Primarily, the term “roadmap” refers to the stepwise developmental blueprint of a product. It ensures absolute transparency regarding project timelines, underlines major project stages and milestones, and offers an easy development plan to the company.

Including the roadmap, this is also the phase when the company gets a complete idea about the cost and time needed for the project. All possible cost reduction assessments also take place at this point.

Summing up, after the completion of discovery, an organization gets:

  • Wireframes
  • Time and cost estimates
  • Product Requirement Document
  • Architectural Documentation
  • Roadmap

The endnote

The success of a software project depends to a major extent on how well the discovery phase is completed.

Only after the initial discovery phase is completed, the actual work of product development can begin.

Therefore, a misstep in the discovery phase can eventually impact the developmental stage.

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