What is a Discovery Project?
A Discovery Project is aimed at collecting vital information about a new project to identify the projects Vision, Goals and Scope; whilst affirming project objectives. Essentially, the goal of a Discovery Project is to connect the idea to the best possible implementation.
The vital information uncovered in Discovery Projects helps provide a deeper analysis of the product idea, review the app/system requirements and evaluate/test all of the possible challenges and solutions.
It is an imperative stage in the product development lifecycle as it helps identify the needs of the clients and users, as well as defining the strengths and weaknesses of the app/system vision.
Ultimately, the knowledge gathered in Discovery Projects aids the project journey and provides numerous benefits whilst delivering the highest value possible to clients and users. This ensures a quality, fit-for-purpose product is brought to market. Design Thinking plays a vital part in this process.
So, what is Design Thinking?
When starting a new project, utilising the sophisticated approach of Design Thinking can be highly beneficial, especially in app/system based projects.
Design Thinking puts the user at the heart of any new project. This enables project teams to gain greater understanding of individual projects, vital user needs, challenge assumptions and redefine any problems or barriers which may not be instantly apparent.
This process facilitates a more innovative project, enabling your product to stand out from the crowd, providing a further competitive advantage. Ultimately, this approach allows project teams to deepen their understanding and identify needs of the project to create the best possible outcome; essential for user-centric applications.
Stages of Design Thinking
Discovery Projects follow 7 vital steps of Design Thinking, from initial meeting to finished project, with each step being fundamental to success:
1) Discovery Workshop
A structured ‘kick-off’ session, the goal of which is to nail down the project needs and options. The output from this feeds the entire discovery phase of the project.
The next step is a ‘Product Vision Statement’, fully defining the who, the what and the why of the project.
Taking the output from the definition stage and adding ‘flesh to the bones’. This stage outlines the key functionality of the app and how it fits together. With key assumptions determined, these begin to be joined together into a defined product.
This stage is targeted at a set of predetermined test-users and includes a variety of user types, determined by the specifics of the project.
5) Paper Prototype
This stage simply involves working with sketches/post-it notes which are used to map out the ‘User Journeys’ and start the visualisation of the process.
This involves inviting a small number of users from the Test phase to take part in a walk-through of the output of the Prototyping phase and gain informal feedback.
The output of the Discovery project is a robust and comprehensive plan on which to base the key ‘next-step’ decisions with regard to the product.
Benefits of Design Thinking and Discovery Projects
Design Thinking is deliberately iterative, and Discovery Projects aim to rapidly develop and test multiple possible solutions and functionalities. This will eventually lead you to determine the best direction of the project going forward.
This approach emphasises planning and optimises objectives through predefined criteria, leading to numerous benefits. With these benefits being:
- Preparation to limit any unexpected changes throughout the project.
- Evaluates all directions and provides a more focused and time efficient project.
- Enables you to gain greater understanding of complex situations.
- Reduces project costs, due to the limitation of changes throughout the journey.
- Facilitates rapid learning and understanding of the project. Thus, allowing for iterative generation and testing to produce the most optimal user-centric app.
Why the Discovery Phase shouldn’t be skipped
Discovery Projects can never fully negate risk. However, they have been proven to help significantly reduce it. Skipping the discovery phase of a project can result in the following:
- An evident lack of measurable expected results which would inevitably cause extensions to project duration. Leading to uncertainty or a delay to the release of the product.
- Without setting clear goals or requirements would prove a lack of direction, increasing associated project costs.
- With no clear timeline set, the development phase can easily extend, postponing product launch.
- Any misunderstanding at the initial stage of cooperation can lead to more confusion further down the line, wasting both time and money.
Missed deadline risk is reduced by 75% and overall cost saving can exceed 50%.
So, in conclusion, why choose a Discovery Project?
By remaining firmly focused on asking the right questions and challenging assumptions, Discovery is a great opportunity to add value and find the best possible outcome.
To gain the best possible product for end users, Discovery seeks out an effective and efficient process right from the start. This approach limits unexpected changes, manages ambiguity and ultimately delivers optimal performance.
Following Design Thinking helps produce ideas that reflect the genuine needs at the heart of a client’s vision.
Through appropriate and effective research, Discovery drives successful prototyping and testing to optimise functionality, service and design.
To summarise; Discovery Projects are pivotal in determining the success of a new project or app. Adopting Design Thinking and adhering to the 7 vital steps, can be highly beneficial to any project.
At Switchstance, we follow this process to gain the best possible outcome for our clients. If you have an idea that could benefit then get in touch to discuss your needs further.