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
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:
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.
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.
Prepares a working prototype that will visualize the interface and features
of the product that will be both attractive and easy to use.
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
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:
Project timeline and cost
Go through the discovery phase with CodeLions in 9 steps
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
You will receive detailed planning for every aspect of your project. As
a result, we eliminate the presence of hidden costs and potential reworks.
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.
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
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.