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Discovery Phase

When we engage with the client’s idea, we start with the Discovery phase. It lets us establish a shared vision for your product or service and answer the following questions: what is it, who is it for, why is it important, and how does a sufficient good service look like.

What is the Discovery phase? 

A project discovery phase precedes all the development process. It helps all stakeholders to clarify goals, objectives and requirements Before starting to develop an MVP, we:

  • Gather facts and do a business analysis
  • Visualise the future product with a clickable prototype
  • Write technical documentation 
  • Provide Cost & Time Estimates

You need a discovery phase if:

  • The final product is undefined
  • A project is too complex or long-term
  • There are various stakeholders involved
  • You need an understanding of total cost/timeline
  • Success is vital

Why is the Discovery phase crucial to software development?

Before we proceed, we want to ensure there are no doubts the Discovery process is vital to software development. One may try to “play by air” or “develop as you go,” or pretend to be “agile.” The truth said, such an approach would cost time and money later. We can’t stress enough that it is better to debunk some myths beforehand. 

If skipping the Discovery phase, there might be the following outcomes for the project:

  • No market fit: the audience doesn’t want the product, even a good one 
  • The business model is invalid: the project runs out of money
  • The wrong tech stack: it becomes too costly to support and scale

Step 1. Initial request and a call

It begins with an initial call when we learn about the idea, its background, and the current stage. These are the questions that we would like to be answered in the first meeting to understand the details and the overall direction: 

  • What is the project about?
  • Who are the potential users of the product or service?
  • What is the most important problem that we will resolve for these users?
  • What are the business value and monetization model?
  • How would you measure project success?
  • What resources are you looking for?
  • What is your timeline/roadmap?

Step 2. Follow up

After the call, we expect the client to share existing materials such as:

  • PRFAQ, one-pager or white paper (any kind of text descriptions of the project) 
  • visuals like wireframes or designs
  • existing code with explanation
  • features list

Our goal is to identify what are the knowns and unknowns before moving to prototyping.

Step 3. Workshop

Once agreed on cooperation, we set up a discovery workshop with our client. During a day or two, we meet with all stakeholders to produce lots of quality questions and gain all the necessary information about the business in general and the project in particular. 

At the workshop, we will follow a predefined agenda. As the outcome of the workshop both sides should have:

  • a common understanding of the core project idea
  • the defined scope of work for the Discovery
  • necessary hints on what to research next

TRIARE Discovery team consists of a business analyst, a project manager, a software developer, and a UI/UX designer.

What does a business analyst do? This expert ensures that there are problem-solution fit, product-market fit, and a business model fit.

Who is a project manager? It is the link that bridges all the processes in a company and between the team and the customer. 

Who are software developers? They are responsible for software development. Our senior tech team will carry out additional technical research to select the right tech stack.

UI/UX designer. A designer is in charge of creating a complete user experience. It includes easy navigation, intuitive design, and a visually attractive project.

It is essential that all the stakeholders participate. By the end of the workshop, there is a common understanding of the core project idea and a prototype definition. 

Step 4. Discovery timeline

After the workshop, our team provides a timeline for the Discovery and starts researching the required information. At this stage, we prepare a software requirements specification (SRS).

Duration and Price

For a small project — 1-3 days.
For a medium project — 1-2 weeks.
For a large project — at least 3-4 weeks or more.

TRIARE is billing either on a fixed price basis or on a time and material model. The latter is based on hourly rates and the working time of all members of the Discovery team involved. 

We report on the progress on a daily basis. The client validates results and contributes feedback to the team. TRIARE then proceeds with 

  • building a user journey map
  • identifying the target audience
  • researching competitors
  • reviewing the data prepared for the SRS

Discovery phase deliverables

Step 5. A full list of artifacts

We would consider the Discovery phase successful when 

  • we have a defined scope of the project documented in the SRS 
  • we share an understanding of the project value for the users
  • all parties have clarity and tools to measure the success of the product or service

As a result, the Discovery stage at TRIARE will deliver four key artifacts. 

1. The system requirements specifications document – this is a document that describes the project in full detail, including the feature set, a recommended tech stack, and an architecture outline. Review it and suggest changes before approving it. We are going to use a template based on the IEEE830 standard.
2. Сlickable prototype will be the result of the Discovery phase. The customer reviews this clickable prototype and a completed SRS. After their final revision and approval, TRIARE proceeds to estimate the timeline and budget for the overall project.
The
clickable prototype of the system – you will get a simplified representation of the future interface and its core features. Along with the SRS, it provides insights into how the software will function once it is finished. 
3. The detailed estimate breakdown and costs – you will receive a document with the list of features that are represented in the SRS and a time estimate in hours for implementing each of the features.
4. The timeline for the Design and Development phase – this document will allow you to see the breakdown by sprints, features, and the number of people involved.

Step 6. Signing the contract 

These will enable your project to transition into the Design and Development stages. We then sign a common agreement, receive a prepayment, and kick-off the next stages of development. Read more on the TRIARE process in our workflow series.

The Discovery phase is a solid foundation for successful startups. It helps to clarify the vision and reduce the development risks. It empowers the team to implement the project just as it was intended. Would you like to make an initial request?

Discovery phase FAQ

Our product or service already has visuals and documentation. What will be the next step in this case? 
You can send us these materials prior to the workshop. After revisiting your artifacts, we will make a decision whether to use them as is or extend. But in any case this will save time and budget on the Discovery phase.

If the concept development phase in SDLC fails, what is the next step?
Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a concept used by the custom software development industry to architect, build, and validate software solutions. It is straightforward and consists of the following stages:

1. Planning
2. Analysis
3. Design
4. Implementation
5. Maintenance 

Then the cycle repeats. If the SDLC cycle fails, we will look into the root cause by checking if:

  • The problem we address is a valid one;
  • The tasks for this software development process are clear and doable;
  • The software development phase is consequent to the previous one.

If the Discovery phase indicates the project will fail, it’s also good news since you will save your time and money for the entire development process.

What is market research? Before establishing a startup, a founder may want to understand if the idea is valid (there is a problem that people want to solve), the competition and entry barrier is not too high (people are still looking for a good or more affordable solution), and there is a technology that can realize the idea in a workable product. 

How to do a competitive analysis? When you want to compare your business to other competitors on the market (if any), you need to perform a competitive analysis. One can follow this flow:

  • Identify potential competitors
  • Examine and categorize them: from direct to non-direct
  • Identify the market positioning
  • Compare prices, customer service, value proposition, and growth in the last 2 years
  • What is software development for your competitors?

What is a SWOT analysis?  SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s a very basic business analysis tool. You can find a SWOT analysis template and SWOT analysis examples here. You may also perform a personal SWOT analysis right now. Just grab a piece of paper and a pen.

What tools do you use during the Discovery phase?  Just like there is a software user manual, we rely on a blueprint  of methodologies for Discovery:

  • Figma and Sketch to produce prototypes and designs;
  • Gantt chart to build timelines;
  • Drawio for building user flows;
  • Google sheets for WBS.
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