How Discovery Phase Can Help You to Kick-Off Development Process?

Once you come up with the idea for your project, it may seem that the only thing left to do is turn it into reality. However, it can be much more challenging than meets the eye. Inability to define business needs, undetermined priorities, lack of detailed execution strategy, absence of end-user analysis are among many other obstacles that lead to software development project failure. Here’s when project discovery comes in handy. Read on to learn more about the discovery phase and how it can streamline the development process.

Author: CodeLions
Date: 05 July, 2021
Time: 9 min read

Discovery phase: what is it and when do you need it?

The stage that outlines the essential information before kicking off the software development project is called the discovery phase. It encompasses laying out precise business requirements, designing the workflow, studying potential customers, establishing a project timeline, and drawing up a budget.

The duration of the discovery phase depends on the project complexity and scope of work. Thus, it can last from two to four weeks. The project complexity and its requirements also define who will play key roles in the discovery process. Generally, a team usually consists of:

Business analyst

Сonducts profound market research and user analysis that helps a team identify a problem and main business need. Business analyst (BA) analyzes competitors and determines end-user persona. After all the work done by BA, initial business intentions transform into the list of specific requirements.

Solution architect

Is responsible for the technical part of the process. They analyze the technical environment, create an architecture design, and confirm or deny that the project is technically feasible.

UX/UI designer

Prepares a working prototype that will visualize the interface and features of the product that will be both attractive and easy to use.

Project manager

Defines the resources needed based on set requirements. They organize the development team’s work, estimate cost and time needed for project development, schedule meetings with clients and keep them informed about current project status.

After brainstorming an idea, businesses and startups usually do not consider what components their project should have. Moreover, it is almost impossible to create a detailed list with all components and software aspects when a person lacks technical background. It is of paramount importance to pass the discovery phase if you relate to any of the following points:

  • There’s no exhaustive idea of the final product. You have a general idea of what result you want to get, but there’s no complete components’ list that should be included and little to no understanding of where to start to bring the concept into reality.
  • Rebuilding a legacy system. You have not identified the system’s current state, strengths, and weaknesses, and the scope for transformation is also not defined.
  • A lot of requirements for the final product. When the desired solution is quite complex and consists of different technologies, for example, the combination of artificial intelligence and augmented or virtual reality, or it requires a team of qualified specialists to be implemented.
  • The project budget is tight. When you need to outline the basic architecture and functionalities of the solution and set aside all redundant features.

Main benefits and outcomes of the discovery phase

By forming the data-driven basis for further development, the discovery phase offers multiple advantages with the cutting-edge solution as a final result. Let’s dive into the key benefits that the initial stage provides.

  • Set clear requirements. By identifying business objectives and project goals, the client and development team can quickly come up with a list of specific demands for business solutions or services. Further, such a set of requirements can be used to make estimates for timeline and expenses.
  • Obtain reliable estimates. With clear business needs, the accurate timespan can be defined and costs of the minimum viable product (MVP) or full-scale development process can be calculated.
  • Achieve more certainty. Initial planning allows us to analyze every step of the process and identify the potential risks. It can further help to avoid such risks and provide more certainty.
  • Develop a common vision. All stakeholders will be aligned on the project goals and basic requirements, leading to a more streamlined work process and better outcome.
  • Meet targets faster. Clear objectives and a list of experts involved in the process lead to a more seamless development process. Moreover, the proper understanding of what a solution is for and how it should work reduces the possibility of having incorrect outcomes and facilitates getting to the finish point.

A detailed plan, established timeline and budget size are the main outcomes of the discovery phase. However, the deliverables differ due to the project size and complexity. Here are some of the results you can receive after the initial stage:


Software requirements specifications


Project timeline and cost estimate


Software architecture documentation


Clickable prototype

Go through the discovery phase with CodeLions in 9 steps

Step 1
Defining business needs

It includes a kick-off meeting to gather all the information required for a successful development process, including a discussion of business objectives, project scope, and product requirements. If you have already started the project, we will also analyze the current progress, identify weaknesses to overcome them later, and move forward with confidence.

Step 2
Analyzing competitors

You will receive a detailed market study and competitors list, including available solutions and their features. Moreover, the competitor analysis does not necessarily include only direct product competitors. We explore the market beyond and analyze solutions that have partially similar functionality to your intended project.
Afterward, you will receive a comprehensive list of competitors, available offerings, and their strengths and weaknesses.

Step 3
Setting functional and non-functional requirements

This phase will provide you with a clear vision for an app’s functionality from a user perspective and prepare a lineup of the technologies and tools that should be used for your project implementation.

Step 4
Drawing the roadmap

You will get a unified document with the work requirements and specific deliverables, including but not limited to functional and non-functional requirements, tasks priority, tech requirements, recommended tech-stack, and deadline dates. The roadmap will help you manage various aspects of the new product launch and keep an eye on the overall project.

Step 5
Preparing basic wireframes and UI/UX design solutions

At this point, our team discusses ideas, shares thoughts and offers solutions regarding the design. Considering end-users preferences, the team comes up with the optimal concept design of your project and presents basic UI/UX design ideas.

Step 6
Laying down solution architecture requirements

You will have a diagram of the software on this level, which will help you understand software structure and components without examining the code.

Step 7
Finalizing user workflows and user stories

We will develop user behavior scenarios to understand how potential customers can interact with your product. We will describe user persona, allowing us to project their needs, create a scheme of their actions, experience, and pain points. According to it, we will identify potential pain points and ways to remove them.
Furthermore, user interaction with the product will help you to prioritize features – those that will be used more often have to be delivered in the first instance.

Step 8
Managing risks

You will receive detailed planning for every aspect of your project. As a result, we eliminate the presence of hidden costs and potential reworks.

Step 9
Estimating time and budget

We calculate the time-to-market of product development processes and the effort needed to have a predicted release date and plan the budget. With those estimations, you will be able to start development projects with any service provider. Moreover, timeline and budget assessment will greatly contribute to cutting additional costs and time for testing, development, and implementation processes.

Final thoughts

We cannot overestimate the importance of the discovery phase in the development process. It helps to set clear requirements, define the priorities, estimate the budget and timeline, mitigate the worries regarding development, and many more.

We at CodeLions deal with every project as our own and strive to help our clients achieve success. We will help you develop a clear vision for your project by conducting careful planning, creating powerful prototypes, identifying and mitigating possible pitfalls.

Want to put your idea into practice? Get in touch with us.


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