discovery in projects

Project Management

Discovery Phase in Project Management: What it is, why it’s important, and how to navigate it.


Max 8 min read

Discovery Phase in Project Management: What it is, why it’s important, and how to navigate it.

Click the button to start reading

As a project manager, you may be tempted to rush through the discovery phase or entirely skip it. After all, it can feel like a lot of extra work with no immediate payoff.

But this would be a mistake. The discovery phase is one of the most important parts of project management, and it’s essential to navigate it properly in order to ensure a project’s success.

What Is The Discovery Phase?

What is the discovery phase?

The discovery phase is the initial stage of a project, during which the project team identifies and defines the project’s goals and objectives. This phase is where lots of learning and research takes place. Because the project manager and team need to understand the project’s scope, requirements, and constraints.

During the discovery stage, you collaborate with clients to collect data on their organization, goals, barriers, resources, and present position. In this phase, industry research, user research, competitor research, and a thorough assessment of relevant business processes and prior work by the organization should be conducted. Data-gathering may include reviewing company archives, examining documentation or groundwork, or interviewing stakeholders.

It’s important to spend the necessary time and effort in this phase to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone understands what the project is trying to achieve.

Broadly speaking, the discovery phase is important because it allows project managers to precisely answer two important questions: What are we trying to achieve? and How can we achieve it?

The first question is about the project’s objectives. By taking the time to identify and define these objectives, project managers can ensure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone is working towards a common goal. This clarity is essential for a successful project.

The second question is about the project’s approach. By understanding the project’s objectives, project managers can figure out the best way to achieve them. This involves figuring out the necessary steps and resources, and it allows project managers to plan for potential roadblocks and setbacks.

Where Things Go Wrong

Where things go wrong

There are a lot of mistakes that can be made in relation to the discovery phase. As mentioned above, the most notable problems are either the phase is completely rushed or altogether neglected.

There are two primary reasons why discovery phases may be rushed. The first is human psychology, and the second is the demands of the work. Alternatively, it might be said that there are both internal and external forces at play.

Internal pressures are ones you place on yourself. If you’re like most managers, you’re probably your own worst critic, and you may be quite harsh on yourself to get things done quickly. It’s only natural for you to want to see concrete results as soon as possible. It can be frustrating to devote time to something that doesn’t pay off right away.

External pressures come from our environment and the people around us. Colleagues, clients, and superiors might all be putting pressure on us to get things done quickly. They may not understand the importance of a well-done discovery phase and may not see the value in taking the time to do it properly.

On the other hand, sometimes project managers neglect the discovery phase altogether. There are a number of potential reasons for this but the most notable are the feeling that you already know what the project is supposed to achieve, or you underestimate the importance of the discovery phase, for the success of your project.

What it leads to…

When the discovery phase is rushed, it can lead to a lack of clarity about the project’s objectives and goals. This often creates confusion and conflict among team members, and can make it extremely difficult to move forward with the project.

Also, when the discovery phase is neglected, it can lead to problems further down the line. The project may get off to a rough start, lacking clear goals or objectives, and this can lead to wasted time and resources as the project team struggles to figure out what they’re supposed to be doing.

In either scenario you run the risk of project failure.

Why The Discovery Phase Is Important For Your Projects

Why the discovery phase is important for your projects

The discovery phase is important because it lays the foundation for the rest of the project. During this phase, the project team identifies what needs to be done and determines how best to do it.

Because this phase is easy to neglect, it’s important for you to see a solid list of advantages to the discovery process. The benefits of a well-executed discovery phase include:

  • As the project progresses into the implementation stage , the chances of having to make major changes diminish
  • The project team is able to stay on track and avoid costly mistakes
  • Communication among team members improves, leading to a more cohesive team
  • The project is completed on time and within budget
  • There are fewer surprises and setbacks during the project
  • Increased chances for project success
  • Cohesion with client before project begins
  • Increase in confidence for your team and clients

How To Navigate The Discovery Phase.

How to navigate the discovery phase.

The key to successfully navigating the discovery phase is to take things slow and steady. This means taking the time to properly assess the project and its objectives, and then developing a plan of action that will achieve these goals.

There are a number of steps you can take to make sure the discovery phase is a success:

1. Assemble a discovery team

The discovery team is responsible for conducting the research and analysis necessary to define the project’s objectives. This team should include representatives from all key areas of the project, including management, design, engineering, marketing, and operations.

It’s not absolutely crucial to have a team. You could just complete this phase with information offered to you by your client. This of course would limit the accuracy of the project and could have unforeseen consequences further down.

2. Conduct research (analyze, and make adjustments)

The research stage in the project discovery process is very important. It aids in giving managers and employees a better understanding of the work that must be completed on each project component.

There are four different areas you’ll want to research in order to get a complete understanding of the project.

For one your research should be directed at your client.

Understanding your clients business and what they want to achieve is an absolute must in project discovery. You should also look at what your company does best and try to match that with what the client is looking for.

This is where queries are asked and concerns are addressed. Customer interviews are crucial for establishing project expectations and ensuring that the project’s general aims are dialed in.

Second, your research should be directed at your overall market environment.

What does your project aim to change or improve within a given industry? How are other agencies tackling similar projects? It’s important to review the market and see what others are doing. This will help you set expectations for your project, as well establish benchmarks that can be used during development if necessary.

Third, your research should be directed at your clients or your competitors.

What do they offer that is similar to your project? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What can you learn from them and apply to your project for the betterment of it.

What are their price points? Where are they promoting? What is the project messaging?

It’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of not only what you want to do with the project, but what others are doing as well. This will help in the long run when trying to differentiate your product or service from what else is out there.

Fourth, your research should also be conducted on project risks.

Risks can come in many different shapes and sizes, but knowing about potential risks before they become an issue can help mitigate them. What are the risks associated with this project? What could go wrong and how will we handle it? This is an important part of project discovery and should not be taken lightly.

A good analysis of the project starts with a good understanding of the problem or opportunity that needs to be addressed. The discovery team should gather as much information as possible about the project, including the business goals behind it, the stakeholders involved, and the current state of the market.

3. Checking back in with client to present potential solutions

Once your project team has a pretty good understanding of the problems and potential solutions, you should reinitiate a meeting with your client to communicate your findings.

At this point, it’s important to check in with the client to see if any of their suggested solutions match up with what the project team is thinking. If not, the project team can continue to brainstorm until they come up with solutions that meet your client’s needs.

Once a potential solution is identified, the project team will need to do a more in-depth analysis of the project to see if it’s feasible. This includes things like cost analysis, timeline planning, and risk assessment. If everything looks good, the project team can move on to the next step.

4. Construct a preliminary budget and timeline

The project team will also need to create a preliminary budget and timeline for the project during the discovery phase. This isn’t a final budget and timeline, but it’ll give you a good idea of what the project might cost and how long it might take to complete.

This information can then be used to help get buy-in from stakeholders and to set expectations for the project.

5. Finalize project goals and objectives

The project team should also finalize the project goals and objectives during the discovery phase. These are the specific outcomes that the project is hoping to achieve and should be measurable so that you can track and report on them later.

6. Draft a project plan

Once all of this information is gathered, the project team can start drafting a project plan. This document will outline how the project will be executed, who is responsible for each task, and what the timelines look like.

This document will be updated and revised as the project progresses, but having a solid plan in place during the discovery phase is essential for a successful project.

7. It’s time to begin

Once everything is finalized, the project team can start working on putting the project plan into action. This can be a daunting task, but with a good project plan and team in place, it can be done.

Final Thoughts On Discover Phase

Final thoughts on discovery phase

The discovery phase is an important part of project management and should not be taken lightly. This is the time when your project team does all of the research and planning necessary to successfully execute the project. There are a lot of things that need to be done during this phase, but if it’s done correctly, the project will be off to a good start.

A well-executed project discovery phase doesn’t just make things easy for you and your project team, but it also helps create a good experience for your clients. They’ll appreciate the fact that you took the time to do your homework and that you’re being proactive in finding solutions to their problems.

#ezw_tco-2 .ez-toc-widget-container ul.ez-toc-list{ background-color: #ededed; } Table of Contents

Manage your remote team with teamly. get your 100% free account today..

discovery in projects

PC and Mac compatible


Teamly is everywhere you need it to be. Desktop download or web browser or IOS/Android app. Take your pick.

Get Teamly for FREE by clicking below.

No credit card required. completely free.


Teamly puts everything in one place, so you can start and finish projects quickly and efficiently.

Keep reading.

Leadership Books

Best Leadership Books: The 7 Most Impactful Reads for Project Managers

Best Leadership Books: The 7 Most Impactful Reads for Project ManagersAs a project manager, you know that the key to success is leadership. Yes, planning and organization are important, but if you can’t lead your team to success, then your project will likely fail. That’s why you need to start developing your leadership skills. After …

Continue reading “Best Leadership Books: The 7 Most Impactful Reads for Project Managers”

Project management pitfalls

Avoid These Top 10 Project Management Pitfalls

Avoid These Top 10 Project Management PitfallsHigh-quality projects require proper planning and strong management support. Project managers and leaders should be well informed on the most common project management pitfalls to avoid so that they can support the development of exceptional outcomes. These topics aren’t often discussed at length due to their sensitive nature and …

Continue reading “Avoid These Top 10 Project Management Pitfalls”

Max 11 min read

Virtual Meeting Etiquette

Remote Work

The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Meetings

The Ultimate Guide to Virtual MeetingsOnline meetings have become a part of the way we live. And while all of the standard protocol for meetings (agenda, minutes, follow up) remains the same, this transition from in-person to virtual has introduced a whole new playbook. What is the protocol of this new realm? In both our …

Continue reading “The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Meetings”

Max 10 min read

Project Management Software Comparisons


Asana vs Wrike


Basecamp vs Slack


Smartsheet vs Airtable


Trello vs ClickUp vs Jira Work Management

Trello vs asana.

Get Teamly for FREE Enter your email and create your account today!

You must enter a valid email address

You must enter a valid email address!

👋 We're hiring!

Why You Need the Project Discovery Phase and How To Get It Right

Find out why the discovery stage is the key to achieving project goals, and get helpful tips to complete it successfully.

Liz Lockhart

Liz Lockhart,   PMP and Agile Leader

  • project planning

Are you a project manager tasked with solving a problem you don't fully understand? Or are you leading a project that needs to get off the ground quickly but are unsure where to start? 

Don't worry—you're not alone. Many project managers face similar challenges, especially when working internally within a company.

While it may be tempting to skip the project discovery phase and dive straight into execution, this approach can lead to failure in the long run. Projects that lack structure or identify the wrong goals often fail due to a lack of thorough investigation. That's why conducting a discovery phase is essential before planning your project.

During the discovery phase, you can examine the underlying problems, previous attempts to solve the problem, available resources, and known risks. By gathering this information, you can better decide on project structure, expected outcomes, and planning. Taking the time to conduct a discovery phase can save you from jumping into murky waters and increase your chances of project success.

I'll share my experience and best practices for conducting a discovery phase in this article. By following these guidelines, you'll be well-equipped to confidently tackle any project and increase your chances of success. So if you want to avoid common pitfalls and know what success looks like in your projects, keep reading. 

What is the discovery phase?

The discovery phase is an essential first step in the project management process , serving as the foundation for all subsequent stages. It involves extensive research, gathering relevant information, and identifying necessary resources to achieve the desired outcome. 

In this stage, project managers and team members act as investigators, delving into the intricacies of the project and uncovering crucial details. The process of discovery involves several key activities, such as:

  • Research : Conducting thorough research is crucial in understanding the project's context, challenges, and opportunities. This may include examining industry trends, competitor analysis, and exploring potential solutions.
  • Asking questions : Conversing with stakeholders helps identify their needs, expectations, and constraints. These discussions can also reveal hidden risks and opportunities.
  • Analyzing data : Analyzing the data collected through research and stakeholder interviews can provide valuable insights and help guide decision-making.
  • Listening : Actively listening to stakeholders, team members, and subject matter experts allows you to understand the project requirements and objectives better.

Why and when would you need a discovery phase? 

A discovery phase is essential for project success, as it clearly explains the project's objectives, requirements, and potential obstacles. As someone who has managed projects, it is convenient when tackling complex problems, when conditions are unclear, or when stakeholders have diverse expectations.

During the discovery phase, I usually dive deep into the project details, exploring the context and identifying the most effective solutions. This helps everyone get on the same page, ensuring a shared understanding of each project goal and objective and preventing any miscommunication or conflict later in the project lifecycle.

Moreover, the discovery phase can be crucial when dealing with changes in the project's context, such as shifting market trends or new competitors. In my experience, reassessing the project's goals and strategies has helped my team stay agile and adapt to these changes.

Lastly, conducting a discovery phase has benefited risk management by identifying potential risks and challenges early in the project. This proactive approach can prevent costly setbacks and ensure a smoother project execution.

What should you do if someone assumes you don't need a discovery phase?

It can be frustrating when someone assumes you don't need a discovery phase for your project. But don't worry; you can handle this situation with grace and confidence by following these tips:

  • Stay calm : Take a deep breath and keep your cool. Instead of getting defensive, calmly explain the importance of fully understanding the problem before trying to solve it. Remind them that just like you wouldn't build a house without a clear blueprint, the same goes for projects.
  • Explain the benefits : Share how a discovery phase helps gather insights, identify potential roadblocks, and determine the best approach for delivering a solution that meets your project sponsor's and key stakeholders' needs. Emphasize that a well-executed discovery phase increases the likelihood of project success and makes everyone involved look good.
  • Use analogies or examples : If they're still not convinced, try using some common analogies or share examples of successful projects that utilized a discovery phase, and explain what could have happened if they had skipped the discovery phase.
  • Be pragmatic and willing to compromise : Emphasize the benefits and be open to finding a solution that works for everyone involved. If they say no, consider incorporating a discovery phase into the project schedule as an analyzing task, even if in abbreviated form.

Remember, discovery phases are an essential tool for project managers, especially for those who are new to the field. They help build confidence in understanding the problem(s) and what is needed before jumping into solutions and guiding teams toward specific outcomes. So, don't skip the discovery stage!

What are the steps involved in project discovery? 

Conducting a successful discovery phase is crucial to the overall success of your project. To make sure you cover all the bases, follow these key steps:

  • Define the problem : Start by clearly identifying the problem the project aims to solve. This may involve some research and analysis to understand the issue at hand truly, but it's a vital step in setting the stage for the rest of the project.
  • Engage stakeholders : Identify the stakeholders impacted by the project and involve them in planning. Communication and collaboration are essential to address everyone's needs and concerns.
  • Gather requirements and set goals : Once you clearly understand the problem and stakeholders, it's time to gather requirements and establish project goals. This is where the fun begins! Encourage brainstorming and creative thinking to explore various solutions and approaches.
  • Document and share findings : Finally, document all of these findings and share them widely so that you have a clear roadmap on how to move forward and everyone involved is on the same page. Remember, the discovery phase sets the tone for the entire project, so take the time to do it right.

Who is involved in project discovery? 

The discovery team comprises diverse people who play crucial roles in the project's overall success. Participants may include:

  • Project sponsor or requestor : The person who brought you the problem leads the discovery phase , tracks findings, and iterates a draft project plan.
  • Business analysts : These professionals research, understand, and document current business processes and make improvements during the project discovery phase. In some cases, the project manager or a highly-experienced project stakeholder or technical expert may assume the business analyst role.
  • Project stakeholders : These individuals, including the product owner, contribute to understanding the problem the project seeks to solve and provide input about the real issues at play.
  • Technical experts : They offer information about how things work and what can and cannot work from a technology standpoint.
  • Operations-related personnel : These team members provide insight into how things work today, how they want them to work in the future, and potential issues that could arise. Don't underestimate their input!
  • Designers and developers : The design and development team provides input on what's happening, what's built or in place today, and what could be done differently to achieve the project's desired outcomes.
  • End users : These individuals (the target audience for each software project) give feedback on how they want to use the product, service, or solution being considered for development or change.

By involving a wide range of participants in the project discovery phase, you can ensure that all perspectives are considered and that the project is set up for success.

10 tips for conducting effective discovery phases

Each discovery phase is slightly different, but there are plenty of commonalities! An effective discovery phase is essential for setting your project up for success. 

Here are 10 time-tested tips to guide you through a thorough discovery process:

1. Establish clear objectives 

Begin the discovery phase with a kickoff meeting to ensure everyone is aligned on the challenge. Emphasize the importance of understanding the problem before diving into potential solutions and defining the project scope. Encourage open communication and collaboration throughout the process.

2. Conduct comprehensive research

Conduct user research, and investigate industry trends and competitor analysis. Talk to users, service providers, and other stakeholders to gain a well-rounded understanding of the problem and inform user experience strategies. Leave no stone unturned; a deeper understanding of the context will help you identify the best solutions later.

3. Timebox the discovery phase

Set a realistic time frame for the discovery phase as part of the project timeline with clear milestones and deadlines. Stick to the schedule and make the most of the time available to learn as much as possible about the problem and the desired solution. Then, when the phase is over, summarize the results and recommendations and move on to the next phase! 

➡️ Get more tips on the timeboxing technique to use throughout the project.

4. Utilize stakeholder feedback

Actively seek feedback from stakeholders to refine and prioritize project goals and objectives. Be open to new information and potential setbacks, as these can provide valuable insights to help address the problem more effectively.

5. Employ various methods

Use interviews, surveys, workshops, and other methods to gather insights into user needs, preferences, and pain points to guide product development. Engage with experienced individuals who have valuable information to share. These insights can be instrumental in shaping the project's direction.

6. Collaborate closely with stakeholders

Keep stakeholders informed and involved throughout the discovery process. Discuss your findings and any additional context with them to help uncover the root causes of the problem and explore potential solutions.

7. Identify key risks early on

Document risks early in the discovery process to develop strategies for addressing them later in the project. Being aware of potential risks helps you prepare and mitigate them effectively.

8. Thoroughly document findings

Keep a detailed record of your findings to inform subsequent project stages. Share this documentation widely with your team and update it as needed. This helps ensure everyone stays informed and aligned.

9. Summarize your findings

As the discovery phase nears completion, summarize and validate your findings with vocal and involved stakeholders. This is a valuable opportunity to start identifying potential solutions and fine-tuning your understanding of the problem.

10. Readout and gain commitment

Present your findings and proposed next steps to critical stakeholders, including the project sponsor or requestor. Ensure everyone is on the same page before moving on to the project's next phase. Gaining commitment and support from stakeholders is crucial for project success.

Keep your team aligned with Float

Plan projects, allocate work effectively, and stay on top of project progress to ensure you complete the project goals you set.

The power of the discovery phase

The discovery phase is vital in setting the stage for successful project outcomes. Investing time in this crucial step means you'll be better equipped to develop well-planned projects that address the right business goals and objectives. Remember, you have the tools and knowledge to conduct a thorough discovery phase—so embrace the opportunity!

The discovery phase involves exploring, asking insightful questions, analyzing data, and active listening. It's the bedrock of your project, and skipping it could lead to unforeseen issues cropping up later in the project lifecycle. The time you save by cutting corners will likely be spent dealing with problems that could have been identified and addressed during the discovery phase.

So, before you dive headfirst into your next project, take a moment to pause, reflect, and engage in a thoughtful discovery phase. Not only will this set you on the path to success, but it will also save you potential headaches down the road. 

Start discovering, and watch your projects flourish. Your future self will thank you!

Related reads

The 9 stages of a successful project planning process, from concept to reality: how statements of work drive project success, the makings of project deliverables: a guide to defining objectives effectively.


Discovery Phase of Project: Key Steps to Follow


15 min read

As companies continue to shift towards a project-based approach, understanding the lifecycle of a project becomes exceedingly important. Whether we're talking about software development or UI/UX design, each project goes through multiple stages. However, the focus of this article will be on a particularly crucial phase that often sets the tone for the entire project - the discovery phase.

The idea behind the discovery phase is similar to building a house – without a solid foundation, risks come at a high cost. This stage is where you will minimize these risks, remove uncertainty, set achievable goals, and make decisions based on real market demand.

Below, we will share the steps we take at ElifTech during the discovery phase of project. We will explain the benefits, discuss team roles, suggest ways to improve this phase and explore what happens if you skip it.

What is the discovery phase of project?

There is always a gap between a new idea that may cross your mind and a detailed plan that helps turn it into a reality. That's where project discovery comes in. Project discovery is the initial phase of a project that focuses on gathering information, exploring ideas and the target market, and setting technical specifications. It's also a stage dedicated to understanding the project scope and requirements before moving into actual development. At the end of the project discovery phase, the client receives a well-planned project roadmap that includes objectives, requirements, necessary resources, timelines, and strategies to manage risks. In other words, all the documentation needed to start the custom software development .

Components of the discovery phase of a project:

  • Business Analysis: Understanding the business goals, market demands, target audience, and competitive landscape. This ensures that your project is aligned with your business objectives and will cater to your audience's needs effectively.
  • Technical Analysis : Evaluating the technical requirements, scalability needs, security considerations, and third-party integrations. It helps in choosing the right tech stack for your project.
  • Risk Assessment: Identifying potential project risks and challenges allows for the formulation of strategies to mitigate them.
  • Roadmap Creation : Developing a detailed project roadmap that outlines timelines, resources, project scope, and task allocation.

Components of Discovery Phase

Even when your project is underway, it's never too late to begin the discovery phase. You can run this process whenever you need to identify and address important factors that were overlooked or missed before they impact the final product.

Why does a project discovery phase matter?

If you are unsure whether your idea will work if you don't understand if it will appeal to the intended market, if you doubt whether the budget is sufficient, or if you have serious plans to succeed in the long run, the discovery phase in software development is undoubtedly crucial for you. Here, we detail each benefit you can get from project discovery.

  • Clear and shared project vision

The discovery phase of a software project is where all stakeholders gather to brainstorm and analyze ideas, explore solutions, minimize misconceptions, and decide on an action plan with a clear goal and direction. While this stage helps businesses foresee challenges and find the best solutions to problems, it also helps establish a unified vision toward a common goal before the development starts.

  • Wisely planned budget

Understanding the product environment, audience, and business model lowers uncertainty during implementation. That makes the project discovery phase a crucial part of the process that allows you to plan every aspect of the project, reducing risks of hidden costs and unexpected surprises.

To achieve this, the team defines the necessary features and chooses the best tech stack, estimates development efforts, and predicts launch costs. All of this information is compiled into a clear plan with clear requirements and specifications. Developers and designers strictly follow this plan, and deviations from it simply do not make sense.

  • Deep understanding of the problems that need to be solved

Creating a product that is merely a "nice-to-have" for your end customers is pointless. Ultimately, your investment will go into a solution that doesn't deliver value to users. This is exactly the scenario that the discovery phase helps to avoid. It allows you to understand your target market better, learn about user pain points, and focus on the fundamental problems that need to be solved, ensuring user interest.

  • Risk mitigation

One of the goals of the discovery phase is to be well-prepared for development, cutting down risks in two key ways:

Spotting problems early – by looking closely for issues during discovery, we can solve them before they cause big trouble in development. Making smart, well-grounded choices – understanding the needs, what users want, and technical challenges helps us make informed decisions and reduce mistakes.

  • Faster time to market

Rather than testing ideas after delivery, product discovery allows you to reject wrong assumptions in the initial phase. This speeds up the final product release to consumers while also saving time and resources that would otherwise be spent on post-delivery testing or rework.

  • Competitive advantage

A well-planned project discovery phase helps your organization identify market opportunities more effectively, thereby developing a product that customers need, not just want. Product discovery uncovers unique values for competitiveness and business success.

The world of software development is like navigating unpaved roads, each turn offering new possibilities and challenges. One crucial stage that often sets the tone for the entire journey is the Discovery Phase. However, it's often misunderstood or underestimated. Let’s decode the Discovery Phase and see why it's the cornerstone of every successful software development project.

Discovery phase process

At first glance, the Discovery Phase seems like just another preparatory step. However, it is far from a simple preliminary activity. An equivalent to the blueprint of an architectural project, the Discovery Phase is a tour de force that sets the pathway and defines the vision of the project.

During this initial phase, various activities take place to ensure a thorough understanding of the project's goals and requirements. These activities typically involve brainstorming, workshops, qualitative and quantitative research, risk analysis, and initial project documentation.

It's the stage where stakeholders, business analysts, and technical specialists come together to define the project’s purpose, outline the requirements, study the business ecosystem, and evaluate technical feasibility. In essence, the Discovery Phase is your compass, guiding your software development journey toward a successful destination.

The power of insight

One powerful asset you acquire in the Discovery Phase is insight. By delving deep into the project background, the target audience, the problem it aims to solve, and the expected outcomes, stakeholders can make informed decisions and develop a more effective strategy.

Market research

The Discovery Phase typically starts with market research. It's crucial to understand the target audience and their needs and preferences. This involves conducting surveys, interviews, or analyzing existing data. According to a McKinsey study, companies that put data at the core of their decision-making process are 23 times more likely to acquire customers and six times more likely to retain those customers than their counterparts.

Competitor analysis

This phase also consists of competitor analysis, where you closely examine competing products or services in the market to identify their strengths and weaknesses. By doing this, you can detect gaps your software can fill to outperform your competition. In fact, Harvard Business School research found that businesses that invest time in monitoring competitors are 54% more likely to achieve higher growth rates.

Exploring emerging trends

The Discovery Phase gives you an opportunity to explore emerging trends and technologies that could potentially enhance your software and elevate its value proposition. For example, implementing AI, machine learning, or blockchain technology could differentiate your software from its competitors and give it a future-proof edge. A PwC study revealed that 72% of business leaders believe that AI will have a significant impact on their industry.

Identifying Unique Selling Propositions

Once you have conducted your research, it's time to identify your software product's unique selling propositions (USPs). These USPs will help you stand tall amidst the competition and create software that resonates with your target audience. According to a Nielsen study, 59% of consumers prefer to buy new products from familiar brands, and 21% say they're more likely to buy a new product if it's from a brand they consider innovative.

Technological assessment

The Discovery Phase of project also opens up a constructive dialogue between technical feasibility and creative aspirations. Here, the technological goals and constraints are evaluated and aligned with the envisioned software concept. It paves the way for a software product that is both innovative and pragmatic, balancing creativity with functionality.

Determining the technology Stack

This step involves determining the best technology stack for the project. The chosen technology stack will not only impact the quality and performance of the software but also the overall costs and delivery timeline. Popular technology stacks include LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP), MEAN (MongoDB, Express, AngularJS, Node.js), and MERN (MongoDB, Express, React, Node.js). According to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2021, JavaScript remains the most popular language at 64.96%, followed by HTML/CSS at 55.61%.

Identifying resource requirements

In this sub-phase, the development team identifies the needed skill sets and expertise in building the software product. This often includes deciding between hiring in-house, outsourcing to a software development company, or a combination of both. Determining this will assist in accurate resource planning and allocation. A Deloitte survey revealed that 53% of companies outsource software development to focus on their core business, while 47% do so to reduce costs.

Evaluating third-party integrations

Evaluating and selecting the most suitable third-party integrations is another vital aspect of the Discovery Phase. These integrations, such as APIs, plugins, and libraries, can speed up your software development process, enhance functionality, and ensure a seamless user experience. As per a ProgrammableWeb estimate, there are over 22,000 public APIs available, showcasing the popularity of third-party integrations.

Cementing the foundations

Another critical aspect of the Discovery Phase is setting the course for project management, specifications, timeline, and budget. It solidifies your development strategy and mitigates risks associated with budget overruns or shifting deadlines. In short, it forms the backbone of your project’s operational plan.

Project management methodology

Deciding on the right project management methodology is an integral part of the Discovery Phase. Well-known methodologies include Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, and Kanban. Each methodology offers its benefits and drawbacks in software development. According to a PMI report, 77% of high-performing organizations use a value-driven Agile approach.

Project specifications and scope

At this stage, your team will create project specifications and define the scope of the project. A vivid scope and detailed specifications help guide the development process while avoiding scope creep and unnecessary rework. As per research by the Standish Group, 46.3% of projects experienced scope creep, resulting in cost and schedule overruns.

Timeline and budget

The Discovery Phase helps in estimating the project timeline and budget more accurately. By having a clear understanding of the project requirements and available resources, you're more likely to meet deadlines and control expenses. Research by PMI reveals that just 37% of all organizations deliver projects on time, highlighting the need for precise timeline projections.

What might happen if you skip the discovery phase?

Project failures can have many reasons beyond just skipping the project discovery phase. However, this doesn't make the consequences any less significant for you. Here are reasons why you shouldn't skip the discovery stage of a project, even if you're close to the final launch.

Product/market fit mismatch

Market, product, and customer research are all activities typically done during the discovery phase. Failing to conduct these activities may result in a lack of understanding of consumer preferences, pain points, or market trends, leading to a disconnect between the final product and the target audience's true needs.

Example: A real-world example of a startup that faced this problem is Color Labs . The company created a photo-sharing application that gained initial traction but failed to meet market needs and eventually shut down. The company rushed the launch without conducting proper research and failed to meet customers' expectations.

Scope shifts

If the project needs and goals are not thoroughly examined during the discovery phase, there is a risk of scope changes later on. Scope changes can result from newly discovered needs or unclear initial goals. The lack of clarity can lead to shifts in the project's direction and size, ultimately impacting the budget and deadlines.

Cost overruns

Insufficient planning and analysis in the project discovery phase of a project can cause unexpected expenses, missed budget estimates, or underestimating resource needs, resulting in going over the planned budget. This happens because not everything was carefully thought out at the beginning, leading to surprise costs.

Missed deadlines

An incomplete understanding of the project's ins and outs during the discovery phase can make it tough to guess how long each part will take. This incomplete planning might cause delays and missed deadlines as the project moves ahead.

Example: The music streaming service Rdio failed to gain traction against competitors like Spotify and Apple Music. The company missed several deadlines for product updates and eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2015.

Stakeholder frustration and misunderstandings

When there aren't clear project goals, team members and stakeholders might not understand the same things. This confusion can lead to frustration and conflicts, making it hard for everyone to work together and succeed on the project.

Example: The startup Homejoy was a home cleaning service that had a lot of investor interest and raised over $40 million. However, miscommunications and service issues led to multiple lawsuits, which eventually forced the company to shut down in 2015.

Team roles involved in the project discovery phase

Project development stages

The size and composition of the discovery team may vary depending on the project and outsourcing vendor. We divide team members' roles according to their level of involvement in specific project phases of discovery.

Roles involved in all phases of the software discovery process:

  • A project manager (PM): organizes meetings, gathers information, handles documents, and keeps the team working together.
  • A business analyst (BA): studies gathered data, identifies market trends, and offers solutions.
  • Client/product owner: creates goals, agrees on ideas, and handles the budget.
  • Sales manager: helps the BA and client communicate well. They support BA in understanding the client's business and product ideas.
  • Software architect : analyzes initial technical requirements and offers tools and methodologies for developing the best product. They create the architecture and logic of your product.

Roles that participate partially in the discovery phase:

  • UI/UX experts: participate in the initial research and solution design. Initially, they examine users' needs, working with PM or BA. Later, they create an intuitive interface to make your product as appealing as possible.
  • Backend engineers: estimate time for backend jobs in the feature list; create and evaluate solution ideas.
  • QA estimators: provide estimates for quality checks from the list of features.

Please note that roles may be assigned to anyone on your team. A project manager can also do the job of business analytics, for example. As long as it doesn't negatively affect the performance, it's ok.

Our approach to the discovery phase of project

The approach and number of steps during the project discovery phase of a software project may vary depending on the vendor and project specifics. However, typically, we have the following discovery phase steps in our flow, which may take anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks.

Key Stages & Goals of the Discovery Phase

Project initiation

At this step, we set up an initial scope call, a type of interview with our client where we aim to learn as much as possible about the client’s business context, goals, and requirements. Our BAs and PMs typically ask questions about the idea itself and its expected value for end customers.

During these Q&A sessions, our goal is to understand the desired product, the problems it would solve, the expected time to market, preliminary target audience characteristics, and the monetization plan or investment type for the project. This helps us identify the critical problem and gather sufficient context to analyze it and propose a viable solution.

Accordingly, the more details we gather, the clearer our vision becomes on how to bring the idea to life.

Research and requirements elicitation

Once the discovery team understands the stakeholders' concerns and goals, the next step is to align them with market opportunities and potential customer needs. Our holistic approach to analyzing and researching clients' ideas from all sides consists of the following steps:

Market research : This involves analyzing the market size, latest trends, and key players in the niche.

Competitor analysis : We explore similar products that already exist in the market, evaluating the features they offer, identifying their shortcomings, and determining what works and what doesn't.

Target audience research : We identify the various customer segments interested in the product.

We pay great attention to target audience research, analyzing important factors such as age, gender, lifestyle, place of residence, and occupation to create an ideal customer profile (ICP) and design buyer personas. This information also helps our designers create an exceptional user experience and enables our developers to offer features and functionality that will be most attractive to customers while filtering out ideas that would be redundant to implement.

Solution development

At this stage, our team delves into creating the best solution that aligns with the project's objectives. We focus on brainstorming, generating ideas, and conceptualizing the most suitable solution based on prior research findings.

We engage various specialists, such as UI/UX designers, QA experts, and developers, in a collaborative brainstorming session where every expert can freely share thoughts and ideas without restrictions. Sometimes, even unconventional ideas can lead to significant innovations.

Mind mapping is another helpful tool we use. It's a popular way that involves using visuals. The manager writes the main issues at the center of a whiteboard. Team members add possible steps around them, linking all steps. This helps create different plans to solve the problem.

Estimation and planning

Based on information gathered earlier, we offer estimates for successful project development and deliver a ready-to-go roadmap. Everyone involved in the previous steps, including a BA, PM, backend and frontend engineers, UI/UX designers, and QA specialists, work together to finalize the following:

  • Estimate key features development, prioritizing different stages of development
  • MVP scope design (the set of features to develop first prioritized by their value to end users)
  • Recommendations of the most suitable technology stack for the product's complexity and performance needs
  • Suggestions for product architecture style
  • Recommended post-MVP scope (development of the full product version)
  • Defined project team composition and schedule
  • Cost estimates for both the MVP and full product development
  • Hosting proposal for deploying server infrastructure for your product

Alignment and approval

If you wonder, “What comes after the discovery phase in a project?” – this step sets the stage for the next actions. We pitch our results to the client’s team, ensuring they understand the concept, approve the results, and understand all project management discovery findings. If any questions are left unaddressed, we answer them as well.

For new product development + if the client accepts our proposal, we will continue collaborating by creating an MVP, launching a prototype to the market, gathering customer feedback, and implementing necessary improvements.

Discovery phase deliverables

  • Defined requirements and scope - a document that includes data collected during the market, user, and competitor research. It consists of numbers and trends and provides a basis for building a project management discovery phase template.
  • Software requirements specification (SRS) - (SRS) lists all tech specifications (both functional and non-functional) and functionality required to develop the product.
  • An entity relationship diagram (ERD) - illustrates individuals and their roles (client, end user, etc), business objects (product, market), and others. These diagrams demonstrate the relationships between all elements and aspects of the discovery project.
  • The third-party integration document - describes all integrations with their costs and comments. This document helps the client decide on what services to integrate.
  • Design concept - visually describes a product through sketches. It also includes written statements to help clients, designers, and developers stay on the same page.
  • Prototypes - preliminary versions of a product or system designed for testing and validation of concepts, functionalities, and user interactions before full-scale development.
  • Proposal - includes a step-by-step development plan with the project time and cost estimates.

How to run project discovery: Useful tips

If it's been worked through responsibly, the discovery phase of a software project becomes a powerful tool that shapes an idea into a detailed and well-structured plan of action. That's why we recommend you stick to the following rules:

Set a realistic deadline We never shorten the timeframe to tell clients what they want to hear. Our cooperation is built on transparency, and we are completely realistic about deliverables.

Discuss cooperation Before starting, discuss how and how often the team and client will communicate, as well as which channels will be used. This ensures clarity, enables planning, and promotes stress-free cooperation based on trust. It also helps address any questions in a timely manner and deliver the best possible prototype.

Test as much as needed Test the hypothesis with real users. Get feedback from your potential customers, collect it, and use it in the following iterations. They might prove some assumptions and dismiss others.

Leave room for creativity You never know what idea might cross your mind, especially during market research or designing wireframes. Pay attention to all the ideas crossing your teammates' minds. The agile discovery phase encourages brainstorming sessions with the following presentation of the ideas to the client. Those can make all the difference, eventually.

Don't research too much Teams often have trouble keeping their research focused on what's necessary for the required outcomes. Remember to always justify your efforts with results.

Involve the design team and developers When we plan a discovery project, we discuss the estimation and plan with the team in advance to avoid obstacles during the work. This helps us plan better. For example, involving the design team or developers early on allows them to assess additional stages, determine the best technologies to use, and identify preferred features. This way, we can refine the workflow and suggest improvements to the client already during the kick-off meeting.

To make your idea work, we highly recommend starting with a software product discovery phase. This is your opportunity to avoid guesswork and make informed decisions based on real market findings and customer needs.

However, the discovery phase is just one component of success. Another crucial aspect is approaching the project discovery process professionally and having expertise in the field.

The ElifTech team has experience working with companies of different sizes and fields, so we know how to provide project discovery services. Our approach is time-proven and well-tested so that we can help clients with different ambitions.

If you are looking for a reliable partner to help with a discovery phase or have any questions still unanswered — feel free to contact us .

Stay updated with us

Browse our case studies and get actionable insights to drive your success.

discovery in projects

You might also like

Share your software needs with us:, what happens after you get in touch.

Our expert will contact you within 12 hours to provide a consultancy and further support

We will clarify the requirements and set up an engagement process to make your journey smooth

Based on the info gathered and your business objectives, you’ll get a detailed project vision

The Project Discovery Phase: All Details Explained

discovery in projects

It is well-known that having a brilliant idea isn't enough to achieve project success. Being full of enthusiasm, you might rush into development too early or, even so, invest in creating something no one likes or uses. In fact, recent statistics suggest that in 35% of cases, startups fail because there's no market need for their product or solution. It's the second reason influencing the overall startup failure rate after not having enough money (38%).

But is there a way to reduce such risks? Of course, decent project management with a discovery phase can be a way out. What is discovery in project management and the discovery phase deliverables, you ask? This article is your project discovery 101, covering all the main things you need to know about this vital step in software development.

What Is the Discovery Phase?

Let's assume you've purchased a plot of land for construction and would like to build a house there. Most people would start by examining the territory and testing the ground. They'd consult with specialists regarding how to approach the construction properly or whether it is worth building the house in the chosen location altogether. It's very unlikely that you'd just bring in all the building machinery, equipment, and brigade on site to start building your house immediately without due research and planning. Otherwise, you'll be stuck with constant do-overs and a costly long-delayed construction site that'll be a real pain.

Why did we bring this up? Well, guess what, software development is no different. This is exactly why the discovery phase of a software project is crucial from the business perspective regardless of whether the project is carried out in-house or in collaboration with an outsourcing partner, dedicated software development team , and so on.

What Is the Project Discovery

What is the discovery phase of a project? Also called scoping, it implies conducting research and doing preparation work before beginning the actual development process, project execution, and launch.

In due course, the development team involved in the discovery stage and scoping:

  • collects data on the market and competitors;
  • defines the target audience;
  • figures out the main pain points, user needs, and goals;
  • tests out hypotheses to have proof of concept (POC) ;
  • settles on the project vision and value proposition;
  • lists the objectives, goals, deliverables, and success indicators clearly;
  • identifies possible roadblocks, limitations, and bottlenecks;
  • lines out the scope of work ahead with tangible milestones and priorities;
  • shortlists the tech stack and specifies system requirements;
  • finalizes on design according to research;
  • decides on the features;
  • estimates the budget and deadlines.

‍ When is the discovery phase held? As a rule, this integral step lies between project initiation and project planning in the product development life cycle . And it is a crucial one in project management, partially predetermining the overall success of the product-to-be and helping to avoid pitfalls and wasted resources.

Project Development Lifecycle

Who Is Involved in the Project Discovery Team?

Just like with any software development project, your pool of specialists and web development team structure will vary. But it makes sense to involve more than one person in the project discovery phase so that you get diverse opinions from multiple professionals and various perspectives. This way, you'll have a complete picture and make better decisions.

Here are some of the most common roles of a team during the discovery phase:

  • Project Manager (the main coordinator of the project who manages all the processes and is responsible for communication);
  • Business Analyst (in charge of research from competitors and user needs to putting together the vision of which features are needed, how the end-product might work, and which issues might arise);
  • UX/UI Designer (investigates the users' pain points and demands, thinks about the ways to bring it all to life in terms of interface usability and design elegance via mockups, wireframes, and prototypes);
  • Developer (reviews the technical side of the project, suggests alternatives and the best fit ways to approach the development of specific features or notes the lack of possibility to bring them to life, creates the product architecture);
  • QA Engineer (sometimes included in the discovery process to share assumptions on possibly problematic areas during the solution execution and QA testing phases).

Such expertise sharing, brainstorming, and collaborative effort not only allow for shortlisting the requirements and making estimates during the project discovery phase. It also unites the team and brings them all on the same page. This means that all participants get a holistic view of the entire project and why this or that feature is there.

Not sure whether your project needs to go through discovery?

If you have doubts regarding whether your project could benefit from going through the discovery phase, let's discuss your needs.

The Importance of the Project Discovery Phase

Your idea may sound promising but will it meet expectations? When a project is in the initiation step, you can't be sure that all your assumptions are correct. So it is essential to do market research and test your hypotheses to adapt your vision and plan the project more efficiently. In other words, this is a smarter approach that takes data into account instead of basing your ideas merely on predictions. What will you gain from the discovery phase of a project? 

Benefits of the Discovery Phase in Software Development Projects

There are numerous project discovery phase benefits, so let's go over some of the most important ones.

Project Discovery Phase Benefits

1. Is discovery related to research? Certainly! Such assessment includes studying the market, determining the market size , finding the existing competitors, and learning more about the industry state in general. It's all about idea validation, as there's always a chance that you'll find out there's no use creating the project or that your vision has to be altered so that the product fits the market better. Having such knowledge, you safeguard yourself from project failure .

2. When you understand your users and their needs, you have more opportunities to bring value and live up to expectations. 

3. You can make better choices when choosing an appropriate tech stack and may allocate issues or potential obstacles at an early stage.

4. In turn, this helps build a solid project development strategy . You'll have a mess when your plan and priorities shift all the time. So, by conducting initial research, you avoid unnecessary commotion and focus change too often, therefore streamlining development. This product development roadmap will put the project on the right track. 

5. Most importantly, the discovery phase in agency project management gives way to a better return on investment . For instance, you can decide to drop the excessive features you don't need, shorten the time to market, and figure out ways to cut costs or alter the team composition.

What If You Decide to Skip the Discovery Phase?

It is common for project owners to omit the discovery phase altogether. They:

  • could be allured by the desire to kickstart work on the software project as soon as possible;
  • are overconfident that the project is simple enough to be lined out as you go;
  • think that the discovery phase is a waste of time and money;
  • or maybe the step is bypassed because there's a rush or pressure to launch the product without even a one-day delay.

Whatever the reasons are for cutting corners, neglecting the project discovery phase may be quite a bad choice as unpleasant consequences generally follow. You risk facing various obstacles which will be harder and more resource-consuming to overcome than you might think at first. Here are a couple of points worth noting.

Risks of Skipping Project Discovery

You'll End Up Having a Useless Product

Once again, what if no one needs your product after all? Say, a competitor could have already implemented an unrivaled solution or won over your target audience who won't switch to your product. Or maybe your solution won't get the desired reach. What are you going to do then? 

Although it could be devastating to admit that your project is vain, it'll be even more disappointing to waste invested resources on building something useless. So maybe thanks to project discovery, you'll decide to drop the project altogether. Or, alternatively, you'll give it another brush to improve the initial vision and shift focus so that the product stands a chance and you'll find product-market fit .

You'll Face Additional Costs

If you don't have a clear-cut plan of what you're doing, you'll likely go beyond your initial project or startup budget . For example, you might not have considered the additional workforce required. Or maybe the project timeline continuously extends because you change things around too many times.

How can you possibly make a profit or get the ROI you wanted in this scenario? Long story short, the skipped discovery phase may lead to budget bloat, which is never good. 

You'll Have an Infinite Scope of Work

Referred to as scope creep, this is a common problem when the number of tasks and the general workload starts piling up like a growing snowball. As a rule, this considerably stalls project or MVP launch .

If you want to avoid such chaos, the project discovery phase can visibly assist in getting things organized and becoming less vulnerable in this respect. What if you don't need part of the functionality at all? Or you could have done it right right away instead of wasting time and money on going back and "duck taping" the imperfections?

You'll Constantly Go Behind Schedule

This shouldn't come as a surprise, but scope creep and other "scaffolds" hamper project launch. You'll keep on missing deadlines and face overtime and frustration. Milestones often depend on one another, so if you've messed up with one, it might stall the consequent steps. This is not what you'd want for your project, and the discovery stage can help to avoid that.

You'll Have Compromised Quality

What happens when you rush things or choose the rough-and-ready manner? You lose quality. Of course, this doesn't mean you should only present the project to the world when the whole list of exquisite features is out there. Feel free to show the MVP (or even consider building in public ) as long as it's well-polished and then add on more complex functionality as time goes.

But does it always happen this way? No. In an attempt to make the deadline no matter what, you roll out a sloppy product, ruining first impressions (which, as you know, matter a lot).

Don't want to take the risk of skipping discovery?

The project discovery phase allows for mitigating many risks connected with the further development process and product launch.

How Upsilon Approaches the Project Discovery Stage

Let's briefly go over the main points regarding the project discovery phase based on how we approach it on Upsilon projects. We take as an example one of our internal products — OrgaNice . It is a bot that builds a team directory based on your Slack workspace data. 

Upsilon's Discovery Steps

1. Discovery Start

In general, the scale and duration of the discovery phase will depend on how big the software project will be. It is based on the input or how much you've managed to achieve during the initiation stage.

For instance, you might only have a vague idea about custom mobile app development or, on the contrary, possess a detailed shortlist of what your MVP should be like.

discovery in projects

No matter which scenario it is, the discovery phase begins by discussing the project and going further into the details of what the product needs.

  • Deliverables: reviewing what was achieved during project initiation ‍
  • Average duration: several hours to several days

2. List of Priority Features for the MVP and Future Plans

Once the preliminary overview is complete, it's time to settle on a list of features the solution should have, including the sequence of their execution. As such, as you work on product feature prioritization you can put some functionality under the "Present in the MVP" category, while the other features will be developed after the launch.

OrgaNice Features

During this step of project discovery, you also do industry research. You look for competitors and browse the solutions that are available on the market. List how some features you're interested in were brought to life, noting their ups and downs as ideas for your product.

  • Deliverables: competitor analysis and defining the core product features ‍
  • Average duration: 3 days to a week

3. Product Specification, User Stories, and Information Architecture

After you have a better understanding of the competitors, it's time to work on the product specification. It can be organized in dashboards, descriptions, lists, and so on to show the big picture of the project. There are many MVP tools you can apply to simplify the process.

OrgaNice product specification

You may create use cases, proto-personas, and user stories showing the customers' potential pain points and ways to address them. Plus, you can build the customer journey map (CJM) that'll show the entire path of a user's interaction with the product.

At times, this stage of the discovery phase may also include surveying potential customers or holding interviews with them regarding their product expectations. These are common MVP testing methods that are used for validation.

Information architecture is also handled at this point. It helps to blueprint the key entities, how it all should work, what roles are out there, what features you'll have, and how they should be connected with each other.

It is best to avoid major alterations at this point, especially those concerning the core features, so as to not roll back to the beginning of the discovery phase of a project.

  • Deliverables: have all the product fundamentals lined out clearly ‍
  • Average duration: 1 week

4. Clickable Prototypes

Next, the UX/UI designers work on the MVP design concept and visual representation of the project's UX/UI in the form of wireframes, mockups, or prototypes. It is considered good practice to create clickable prototypes to contemplate how specific features work.

OrgaNice clickable prototype

These bring tangible and immense value as you can see the interface in action and may make conclusions on what works, what doesn't, and build upon that. For example, due to such trial and error, you may figure out how to reduce the number of clicks a user makes to perform an action, improving usability. You may also opt for getting even more feedback, for instance, by testing the clickable prototypes and showing them to real users.

  • Deliverables: clickable prototypes to present UX/UI ‍
  • Average duration: 1 to 2 weeks

discovery in projects

5. Application Design

Creating a full design of the product is a step that isn't always included as part of the discovery phase of a software project. It implies modeling the entire look of the project in terms of UX/UI, based on which the developers will then create code. Such designs may take up to a couple of weeks.

  • Deliverables: a detailed design of the project ‍
  • Average duration: 2 to 4 weeks

6. Technical Stack and Architecture

This step involves choosing the optimal tech stack that will be used for the creation of the project. Generally, the developers choose which programming languages, development frameworks , services, etc., will be optimal for successfully executing the project.

For example, they may compare what will work better for some parts of the product, like custom vs off-the-shelf software solutions, or Angular vs React vs Vue , or think about which web application architecture will be most effective, allowing to save time and costs. Anything along these lines.

  • Deliverables: shortlisted technology stack and architecture ‍
  • Average duration: 2 days to a week

discovery in projects

7. Time and Cost Estimation and Recommendations on Team Composition

Finally, the last project discovery step covers project estimation. This includes finalizing on the team composition, the key milestones, and the probable timeframes for each of the deliverables. Based on them, you can put together a timeline and calculate the approximate overall cost of the project. There are several best practices on how to make accurate project estimations that'll be precise. Ideally, you also come up with a project map.

  • Deliverables: summary of how much the project will last and cost ‍
  • Average duration: 1 or several days

Best Practices for Conducting the Project Discovery Phase

To recap the above and note all the must-dos, we've compiled some tips and recommendations to help your project discovery start on the right foot and ensure a successful outcome.

Discovery phase best practices

1. Involve Various Stakeholders

As mentioned earlier, including versatile people and specialists in discovery is a good idea. For instance, by adding the technical or delivery team, you'll get various opinions on the requirements, possible stumbling blocks, and optimal project execution. On a similar note, you can get even more different perspectives and consider the needs from multiple sides if you include end-users or sponsors, as well as hear out external experts.

However, don't involve too many people as this can easily complicate the process, and it'll be much harder to reach a consensus. Having up to 10 people is enough.

2. Form Your Goals Based on Research

Ideally, you have to move from problem to solution, not the other way around. I.e., before working on product creation, you must conduct thorough research , understand the industry and market state, and know which competing solutions are already available. Then define who your target audience is and make user personas.

You should form your project goals and objectives only once you're equipped with this information, as without solid discovery phase deliverables, you probably won't reach the desired outcome. That's why many entrepreneurs make use of OKRs and KPIs .

3. Give the Features Due Thought

Sometimes when entrepreneurs go through feature brainstorming and prioritization, they forget the answer to the main question, "What is the discovery phase needed for?". Discovery is all about product hypothesis validation with the target market and finding the optimal approach to solving user pain points.

Therefore, you must select and pinpoint only that minimal set of features that'll meet user needs and help the product stand out. At least, that's what makes the most sense at the very start, as you can test your hypotheses and make changes to the features or add more of them after the MVP is released.

Then you'll also be able to determine a realistic project scope based on the shortlisted set you've prioritized.

4. Mind Usability

Your solution must be intuitive in use. Hence, the UX/UI design preparation phase during discovery isn't worth neglecting. Yes, creating User Story Maps, CJMs, mockups, wireframes, and prototypes is a lengthy process requiring lots of iterations to get things right. Nonetheless, it allows for eliminating many mistakes before the feature is passed on to the development team. So, basically, you'll have a more precise decision-making process with fewer alterations.

5. Choose the Optimal Project Management Approach

You need to stay organized and have the flexibility to make changes both while planning the project ahead and during the consequent development phases. Therefore, it is wise to use one of the software development models like Waterfall, Lean development, or Agile frameworks, including Scrum, Kanban, and Feature-Driven Development.

Surely, each is suitable for different project types. As such, MVP agile development is very popular, but you should make your choice according to the complexity of your project and its peculiarities.

Video Summary of the Discovery Phase of a Project

At Upsilon, we believe in doing things right the first time. We know that project discovery can set the tone for the work ahead. In the following video interview, I answer the most common discovery stage questions and share expertise on how we approach the matter on our projects.

Duration and Cost of the Discovery Phase of a Software Project

So how much time does the discovery phase take and how much does it cost? Let's elaborate a bit on the step mentioned earlier in discovery phase deliverables. In the table below, we give an example of how you may calculate the costs and duration of project discovery based on the average rates of different specialists who participate in the phase.

As a result, the project discovery phase cost will be 6k USD at Upsilon and take approximately 6 weeks .

And while this might seem like a lot at first glance, the value that the discovery stage brings is immense. You may avoid pitfalls during software project execution and ensure that the processes run smoother and faster.

Final Thoughts on the Discovery Phase

So, why is the discovery phase important? You make a comprehensive analysis, get a research-driven view of the product-industry fit, understand your audience and end-users better, allocate bottlenecks, and get to fine-tune the idea you've tested. This brings saved costs and other resources, not to mention a smoother development process and a more effective final result.

From our experience as an MVP development company that has helped lots of startups and growing businesses with their products, we'd say that, by all means, the discovery phase shouldn't be considered a delay to kickstarting the project's development.

What happens after the discovery phase? There are several options. But usually, the next step after discovery is project execution. The teams are assigned and get down to work (be it creating designs or developing the solution according to the chosen development model and plan).

What's for Upsilon, you can count on us not only for discovery. We've been providing MVP development services for early-stage startups for years and can assist you in shaping an quality MVP within three months. And if you're already past the MVP stage, we also have team augmentation services for growth-stage business to assist you in taking your product to the next level. So feel free to contact us to discuss your project and current needs!

discovery in projects

Most Common Startup Risks and How to Manage Them

How to Sell SaaS in B2B: Building a Strategy That Will Pay Off in 2024

How to Sell SaaS in B2B: Building a Strategy That Will Pay Off in 2024

What Is a Maximum Viable Product?

What Is a Maximum Viable Product?

Never miss an update.

discovery in projects

Discovery Stage, or What to Do If You Need an Agile Project Analysis

Helen Vakhnenko

You can have the most stunning and smartest software idea, whether it's a website or an app. However, having such an idea doesn't mean you'll get what you want. Often, the final product doesn't live up to the client's expectations, or it turns out to be too costly and time-consuming to implement. All this might lead to the project's failure, no matter how promising it may have seemed at first. 

The logical solution to the problem is to conduct a preliminary analysis... but where to start? The concept seems rather vague and inclusive. That’s why we offer a more agile option, namely, a standard Discovery stage. It’ll help you define the project blueprint and estimate the development cost.

That’s the approach our Agilie team practices. Interested? Then take your time to read our article. We'll explain to you what the discovery phase of mobile and web development is and why you need it.

Why Does It Matter?

​​If you're looking to create a digital product, you should start by estimating the development scope and budget. And indeed, according to the research, more than 15% of IT startups fail due to poor planning, and 45% of software projects are ultimately too expensive to implement (contrary to initial high hopes and too enthusiastic expectations). 

So you have three ways to get things done without adding your project to those 15+% (as well as 45%):

performing the market analysis yourself;

conducting full-fledged analysis;

carrying out the project discovery stage.

The first option can only work if you have the appropriate expert experience (otherwise you're unlikely to achieve success). If it's not the case, you face two ways to go... so what should you choose and why?

Difference Between Thorough Analysis and the Discovery Stage

In fact, Discovery is analysis too, the difference is in the approaches to research. As we said, Discovery Phase is a more agile solution, ideally suited to the ever-changing and evolving IT market.

In the past, any IT project was carried out in stages: first, specialists started lengthy and expensive research (also known as analysis), then they proceeded to design, development, and testing of the product, followed by its launch. The pattern (it’s called Waterfall) seems to be logical and correct... alas, far from it (especially when it comes to the digital market). The thing is, a website or application may already be outdated by the moment it appears on the network (which often happens). Research data is losing its relevance over time.

So a new agile development method was created, and it involves the Discovery Stage. The entire process of building a product is now divided into certain cycles (the so-called sprints), and each cycle includes all the steps described above. Surely, we begin to work on the project by analyzing its prospects and estimating possible time and money costs, but our research doesn't stop there. Each next sprint starts with the Discovery activities: that is, we analyze the data and discover what needs to be done in this particular sprint, what result we're striving to obtain, and what goals we're willing to achieve.

In the end, you get market research to the required scale (the one you really need) and in stages. What's more, the data stays up-to-date and keeps your product on trend as you conduct Discovery throughout the development process.

discovery in projects

The role of the discovery phase in a project is to find out how to implement your idea without wasting money and time while ensuring your IT product fully meets the users’ needs.

What is a Discovery Stage Team?

So what kind of experts should you hire to initiate the product discovery stage?

Project Manager

PM assembles a Discovery team, participates in project discussions, issues invoices, and performs other similar duties. He is also among those who study the end result of the Discovery Phase.

UX Designer

The UX team visualizes the user experience, figuratively speaking. So far, it's not about creating a full-fledged interface design (the time for it will come later), but rather about designing a sequence of user actions when working with an application or website. Moreover, the emotional component should also be taken into account.

Business Analyst

The business analyst is one of the key D iscovery players. He takes on a coordination role in the project discovery process. And he also translates business goals into functional and non-functional requirements and helps in building the logic of the system.  

Business analysts dig much deeper than UX specialists. Their task is to determine, among other things, those systems' interconnections that aren't visible to the eye (but they do exist!). Say, under what conditions should notifications be sent to the user? Who can edit product information? There are a lot of similar examples.

Solution Architect

The Solution Architect is responsible for the technical architecture of the product. His task is to select a technology stack to achieve the client's business goals while maintaining the necessary quality attributes (such as performance, security, scalability, etc.). 

discovery stage

Other possible participants in the Discovery Stage project (although not all of them are invariably required):

Product manager , who manages the product creation and combines (at least, ideally) the roles of business strategist, market analyst, product designer, and client. Typically, the Product Manager is the link between the customer and contractor teams.

The responsibilities of the Product and Project Managers can be combined and performed by just one person (one specialist). If Discovery requires the participation of these two experts at once, then the Product Manager is responsible for the product itself (which is obvious), market and user research, marketing activities, and the tasks of the Project Manager include planning, reporting, budgets, etc.

Marketing/Sales Managers: Experts in charge of marketing activities and sales, respectively. Their role in the Discovery team is to find how to implement a project to ensure product recognition and high sales.

Tech lead , who, together with the Solution Architect, helps to find an approach to the technical implementation of the project's business logic.

CEO , who is in full control of the project.

SME (Subject matter expert). Each project belongs to a specific domain (medicine, financial market, construction, etc.) and requires the involvement of a specialist with a deep understanding of it.

ISME (Implementation subject matter expert). Also, it won't hurt if the Discovery team includes a developer who has experience in creating a similar product.

Key Benefits of the Discovery Stage

A clear plan of action . You'll have a document detailing all the product requirements and describing the best way to bring it to life. 

Estimation of the development time and budget . You'll know when the product is likely to be implemented and how much money you might need to make it happen.

Carefully selected expert team . You’ll be informed of how many specialists are needed to develop, test, and release a product.  

By the by, a smart move is to find a company, which offers a complex solution, starting with the Pre-sale and Discovery phases and ending with the Delivery step. This ensures smoother work on the project, which means a more effective discovery process.  

Getting a visual product concept . A prototype is a great way to test your business idea.

Reducing risks when creating/launching a product. Discovery experts will analyze the pros and cons of your project, identify possible pitfalls, and find ways to avoid these obstacles. Of course, nobody is able to give you a 100% guarantee of the product’s success, but you'll be much closer to your benchmark.

Raising funds . Surely, a concrete plan of required actions increases your chances to get the desired investments. After all, you don’t just ask investors for money, you provide them with a detailed report, which refers to the timing, deadlines, budget, and other related issues.

The ability to stay in trend . We've already explained that the agile Discovery phase allows you to receive analysis data in batches, so to say, and thereby keep the project up-to-date.

But the most important thing among the benefits of the discovery stage is the opportunity for the client and contractors to find a common language and establish mutual understanding with each other. Being on the same page, they can work on the project much more productively.

What Does the Effective Discovery Process Consist Of?

First, we’d like to briefly describe what is usually included in the Discovery process, in the classical sense of the concept in question. Then we’ll explain to you how our Agilie team chooses to work on these projects.

Setting the goals of the project . We’re talking about both the goals of the product itself and the business objectives of the company that orders its development.

Analysis of what you (as a client) already have . If you have some ideas, ready-made sketches, preliminary studies (or whatever), the Discovery team needs to analyze them. The same applies to the case when you have an existing product, which you'd like to see improved in one way or another. 

Study of the target user . Of course, it's also important to study the nature of the target audience and determine the user's pain, so to say. We have to find a problem you're trying to solve with the help of the digital service. It’s going to form a basis on which the entire project Discovery Stage should be built.

Market and competitor analysis . Market trends, its main players, similar product examples,  and solutions: this and other data also have to be clarified, analyzed, and structured.

Processing the information received . All collected data must be turned into product requirements (which may relate to a wide variety of aspects of development and design).

Estimation of the development time and budget , which is one of the main Discovery points (surely, you don't mind knowing how much money to invest in a project and how long it'll take to implement it).

Preparation of results , usually presented in the form of a Vision & Scope document.

And now it’s time to describe our approach to discovery phase project management.

project discovery stage

Discovery Initiation

The first stage is a kind of mutual introduction and attempts to find a common ground, make sure we understand each other. We discuss the client's project and determine the area for future actions. Among others, we determine who will be involved in the project on the part of the client and the contractor.

Business Case Definition

Any digital product exists within a certain business system. Therefore, a mandatory part of the discovery phase in a project is the collection and organization of basic business requirements, including company goals, expected results, indicators of success. 

At this stage, the active participation of all parties to the process, including you (that is, the client), is extremely important. No one knows better than you what you want and what you strive for. 

By the way, we’re working on Discovery requirements (not only of a business nature but also of any others, including the ones below) in accordance with a certain scenario that has proven its effectiveness.

benefits of the discovery stage

Functional Requirements Definition

We need to collect and prioritize the functional project requirements.

These requirements describe what the software system should do. For example, a shopping application must send a notification to the user when certain conditions are met (such as a change in the order status).

Quality Attributes Workshop

Next comes non-functional requirements, which impose restrictions on how the system will perform a certain function. Let's say, a non-functional requirement for a shopping application is sending notifications within a few minutes after the order status has changed (placed, packed, sent, received).

These requirements deal with factors like software reliability, security, performance, flexibility, and so on. 

BA Process Definition

To conduct an effective discovery process, it is important to determine which tools to use in order to analyze the chosen artifacts and provide the client with the result he needs. There is no point in listing all the available tool options: in the end, each project requires its own unique approach and should be started with a clean slate.

Plan Implementation

The next stage is obvious and requires no explanation: if the plan is approved by all parties to the process, we proceed to its step-by-step implementation.

Discovery Deliverables

At the very last stage, we form the concept of the project. It is a Vision & Scope Document, which describes the client's tasks and the solution we offer: product architecture, list of features, main screens, expected development time and cost, and the like.

And of course, we provide the client with a Discovery presentation to detail and illustrate all the results obtained and explain each one if needed. We're happy to answer arising questions so that there are no uncertainties left.

discovery in projects

We'll go into more detail about what the project discovery stage would result in when discussing one of the following sections of our article.

Artifacts we’re working with

Artifacts may come as required and optional, and their final set is influenced by the client’s goals. Much depends on the scale of the project and the amount of work.

Business analysis artifacts . There are a lot of BA artifacts, and we could devote a separate section to each if desired (which we won't do, since it's outside the scope of the article). In general, these artifacts include business goals, competitive environment, market trends, user pain (needs), roadmap, feature list, and more. An important point is the analysis of the risks and limitations of the project, as well as the study of potential bottlenecks: all this is inevitable if the project is new and no one has a full understanding of the situation.

Design artifacts :

User Flow/User Journey. These techniques give us an idea of how the user interacts with the product. The User Flow specifies the steps the customer takes to achieve a certain result (say, to order a taxi if we're talking about an Uber-like application). The User Journey, in turn, illustrates this flow in a more visual, large-scale, and comprehensive manner (sometimes with a user experience involved).

User Journey isn't always required to implement the project discovery phase successfully. Sometimes you can do with simpler ways of displaying user scenarios, such as Flow Chart or Screen Flow.

Rapid Prototype , which provides a preliminary (rough) understanding of the future UI/UX software infrastructure. It isn’t a complete website or app design, it’s just a starting point for future UI/UX work.

You may also need a clickable version of the prototype to evaluate the UI/UX concept even more fully.

Technical Expert artifacts , which enable technical and structural system analysis and give architectural product vision. These steps are necessary in order to understand which IT solutions and tools might help you cope with the task in the best way.

To wrap it up, we'd like to add a few words about the 2 main types of discovery stages: onsite and offsite. The onsite approach implies personal meetings with the client and his representatives, visits to certain objects (if they're critical for your research), interviews, and so on. Offsite Discovery allows you to do with just remote activities, which is very convenient under the quarantine restrictions. However, it all depends on the specific project and its tasks.

The Product of the Discovery Stage: Main Deliverables 

The client receives a document containing the following deliverables:

project goals and requirements;

recommendations for system features;

analysis of possible limitations; 

the optimal technology stack, infrastructure architecture, and expected load; 

estimated budget and deadlines.

Of course, Vision & Scope documents may differ from each other in one way or another, and a lot depends on the client’s wishes. After all, what one doesn’t need would be useful to another, and vice versa.  

Below, we provide a project discovery checklist so that you can see if you have the basis for your software development. 

product discovery stage

When You Can’t Do Without the Project Discovery

Still thinking Discovery isn’t a must? You have a point but although this pre-delivery stage is optional, it is highly desirable anyway. It’ll help you save a lot in the long run.

To ground our opinion, we’re going to list a few basic cases when you cannot do without the Discovery Phase in software development:

Product idea with limited funds . Just an idea, albeit a bright one, is hardly enough to ensure your project success... especially with a limited budget and inability to attract investments (at least at the first product development stages). The discovery phase will help you understand which features are a must-have, and which ones can be neglected for now (thereby, you save at the start).

Cool software idea without a clear vision of the final product . Limited budget isn't the only thing hindering the successful implementation of the project. Another bump on the road is a lack of understanding of what the final product will look like. You may have an idea, but it is very vague and not fully defined.

Too many client-side participants . Sometimes the client's side is represented by several people (stakeholders), and each has his own ideas about the product and the best way to implement it. In order to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings, it is important to conduct the project discovery phase, analyze all the requirements and wishes, and find a common denominator on that question.

Complex project requirements . If the conceived project is too complicated and therefore difficult to implement, a preliminary analysis of the situation won't hurt either. And when we talk about complexity, we mean one of the following (although these are just examples of a great many likely scenarios):

Intricate, multi-level hierarchy of users with different levels of access to functionality.

A long list of features that need to be prioritized.

Unfamiliar industry (to the customer or contractors, or both).

A unique product (to the extent that uniqueness is generally possible).

The need to reorganize an existing product . Sometimes it’s not about creating a software product from scratch, but about modernizing and improving the existing one. There can be many reasons to remake it: falling profits, growing competition, the need to scale the project, and so on. And whatever the motive, you need to start work with discovery stage activities.

Long-term projects . And let's not forget about large projects, work on which runs for months and even years: say, the developers support a software product, be it a website or a mobile app so that it constantly meets the market requirements and follows the latest trends. Surely, developers need certain data in order to know what should be improved and changed in the project. And Discovery Phase experts must provide them with this kind of information.

That’s where the agile approach comes in handy. In simple terms, the above Discovery processes are being repeated in a cycle (depending on the project needs).

It's time to go beyond words. And we're happy to help you get down to business and conduct the mobile or website development discovery phase. We'll perform only the steps you really need, so you won't have to pay a single extra penny.

discovery in projects

  • Data Analytics
  • Data Architecture
  • Data Engineering
  • Data Management
  • Data Migration
  • Data Integration
  • Data Science
  • Data Warehouse
  • Data Visualization
  • Business Intelligence
  • Enterprise Data Platform
  • AI for Education
  • AI for Healthcare
  • AI for Retail
  • Anomaly Detection
  • Chatbot Development
  • Computer Vision
  • Deep Learning
  • Generative AI
  • Machine Learning
  • Smart Contract
  • Augmented Reality
  • Virtual Reality
  • Embedded Software
  • Industrial IoT
  • Medical IoT
  • Cross-Platform
  • Cloud Migration
  • CTO as a Service
  • Angular Development
  • Java Development
  • .NET Development
  • Node.js Development
  • Automation Testing
  • Manual Testing
  • Mobile Testing
  • Web Testing
  • Digital Transformation
  • Legacy Software Modernization
  • MVP Development
  • UI/UX Design
  • Support & Maintenance
  • Fitness & Wellness
  • Life Science
  • Logistics & Transportation
  • Manufacturing & Supply Chain
  • Media & Entertainment
  • EdTech & eLearning
  • Adobe Commerce
  • Sustainability Policy
  • Support Ukraine
  • How we work
  • Our Thinking
  • Case Studies

discovery in projects

Discovery phase of a project, and how it helps supercharge your IT initiatives

Insights, summarized:

  • Out of all innovative IT projects implemented globally, merely 10% to 30% end up a success.
  • A larger share of issues that cause software development projects to go awry can be prevented by introducing a discovery phase.
  • A discovery phase of a project is the first stage of a software development pipeline, whose aim is to help you morph your business idea into a fully-functional solution with a competitive edge.
  • A project discovery phase usually consists of four stages: requirements elicitation, solution design, architecting the solution, and project planning. Each stage births a set of deliverables you can use to pitch to investors and stakeholders, as well as build your development process upon.
  • A business analyst and a representative of an engineering team are usually responsible for carrying out discoveries. An outsourced discovery phase is a worthy option as well, especially if you lack experienced in-house IT talent.
  • Whether you opt for Waterfall or one of the Agile project management methodologies will influence the length and scope of your discovery.
  • In Waterfall, it is typical to plan the entire scope in advance, which can take four to eight weeks or even more — depending on the scale and complexity of your project.
  • In Agile, it is common to set up the so-called sprint 0, or the inception phase, that usually takes up to a couple of weeks or less. It is commonly followed by a discovery track that runs one or two iterations ahead of the development track.
  • The cost of a standard discovery phase starts from $30,000.

You have an innovative idea. Technology enthusiasts ourselves, we get the itch of wanting to turn it into a functional app right away. But diving into development without the so-called discovery phase might be fatal, especially when it comes to implementing complex or innovative solutions.

Various studies suggest that out of all software development projects implemented globally, only 10% to 30% succeed.

And the sad given is: the more innovative the idea, the more likely the project is to fail.

The reasons for failures vary, but they are often bound to poor project planning:

IT project failures

Our experience delivering software engineering services proves: a larger share of issues that cause software development projects to go awry can be prevented — and that’s where the discovery phase comes into play.

If you’re about to start an IT initiative and don’t want it to spin out of control, keep on reading. Below, we share how the discovery phase helps enterprises and startups roll out software solutions successfully, explain what types of projects benefit from discovery activities, and share approximate costs of a discovery phase drawing on examples from ITRex’s portfolio.

What is the discovery phase of a project exactly?

A project discovery phase is the first stage in a software development pipeline. During this phase, you test the idea against business context, dismiss doubts, and prove assumptions about the future app.

When handled properly, the discovery phase helps you understand how exactly you can turn your business idea into a fully functional solution, while providing the basis for accurate time and cost estimates .

Ultimately, introducing a discovery phase to your project helps you implement a product that matches user expectations and has a competitive edge.

Depending on the scope of work, a discovery phase may take two to four weeks for Agile projects and anything between four to eight weeks or even more for Waterfall projects. It is usually billed according to the Time and Material (T&M) pricing model.

What stages does a project discovery phase incorporate?

A discovery phase of a project usually includes four stages:

Requirements elicitation

Solution design.

Solution architecture

Project planning

At this stage, you establish a clear product vision. You also think over the strategic aspects of bringing this vision to life. For that, you do the following steps:

Identify key stakeholders and business context

Start the discovery phase of a project with interviews, questionnaires, discussions, focus groups, and observations to dive into the environment the future solution will be used in and record the needs and expectations of key stakeholders. The latter should include product owners, administrators, end users, developers, investors, and other people involved in crafting and using the future solution.

Also, don’t forget to look back at the existing documentation. If you already have market surveys, user interviews, or any other useful docs, you may shorten the project discovery phase by saving some time on extra research.

Define a product vision

Based on stakeholder feedback, define product vision. Think: a high-level document that outlines the purpose of developing the product and communicates its key value for users.

Identify success metrics

As the next step of a project discovery phase, think over the criteria for measuring product performance. These could include monthly revenue, daily active users, customer lifetime value, and other factors. Product managers will rely on these criteria to monitor if the product meets the set business goals.

Identify target users

Continue with researching your target audience and creating user personas. Identify their needs, expectations, and pain points, and think over the ways to address those in the app’s user journey.

Nail down technical requirements

Morph all of the data aggregated during previous stages of a project discovery phase into a functional requirements document (FRD) or a software requirements specification (SRS), documenting both functional and non-functional (performance, usability, security, etc.) requirements to the future solution. Refer to our guide to writing an SRS for more details on how to craft a compelling document.

Craft a risk management strategy

Map out a risk prevention and mitigation strategy. These will help you identify and respond to potential risks, uncertainties, and roadblocks before they become issues.

Define project scope and timeline

At this point in the project discovery phase, you can provide a detailed estimate of the resources, costs, and time needed to complete the project. Finish the stage by crafting a full project timeline with defined milestones, deliverables, and deadlines.

After finishing the requirements elicitation stage, you’ll have the following deliverables on hand:

Product vision statement

Project scope document and, optionally, scope diagrams

Use cases, user stories, and user journey maps

Product requirements document (PRD), functional requirements document (FRD), or software requirements specification (SRS)

Risk management strategy

Project timeline

The goal of the solution design stage, quite self-explanatorily, is to design the product’s user experience and come up with its look and feel. At the design stage, you commonly do the following activities:

Craft user journey maps

Building on the target audience research and user personas, craft a high-level visual representation of a user’s experience with the product. Typically, you would need a separate user journey map for each user segment.

Continue the project discovery phase by thinking over the points of interaction between the users and the future product. Use the data you collected during the research to populate the journey map.

Design-wise, your map can be as simple as a timeline and as complex as a storyboard depicting what exactly happens at each stage.

Create wireframes and mockups

Visualize your concept by creating blueprints communicating the solution structure and design.

Build prototypes

Finish the stage by building a solution prototype. Think: an early version of the future solution that reflects both its basic functionality and design. A prototype is a great means of giving your stakeholders a taste of what the future solution will behave, look, and feel like.

To validate user flows and UX and UI decisions, you’ll likely go through several rounds of testing. And it’s perfectly okay. Collect stakeholder feedback at each iteration and rely on it to perfect your design.

Once the solution design stage is finished, you’ll have the following deliverables:

User journey maps

UI wireframes and UI design mockups

Low-fidelity solution prototype

Architecting the solution

At this stage of a project discovery phase, you think over how the designed vision will be realized technology-wise. To get it all done, carry out the following:

Craft a technical vision

Building on technical best practices, business context, and feedback from the development team, design a technical solution of how to turn the product vision to life. Make sure your technical vision is flexible, future-proof, and aligned with the overall business strategy.

Carry out a technical feasibility analysis

As the next step in a project discovery phase, assess the details of how you’re going to deliver the solution. Consider the technology landscape, available infrastructure, resources, and budget. The end goal is to determine the viability of the proposed technical solution and ensure the project is legally and technically feasible, as well as economically justifiable.

Design solution architecture

Relying on industry best practices and building on technical requirements, design the architecture of the future solution. Built-in scalability, flexibility, and security are the features to hunt for — these help ensure you can further evolve your solution later on.

Select the optimum tech stack

The next step is to choose the optimum programming languages, frameworks, and libraries. When doing so, keep in mind that the technology choices you make will influence the future solution’s performance and scalability, the time to market, the maintainability of your software, and support costs. Make sure to carefully weigh your tech options against these factors.

Break the project scope down into deliverables and create a backlog structure

With the project scope being clear and technology choices made, you can break the workload down into specific deliverables and design a project backlog. There are different approaches to structuring your backlog; we find one relying on a user story as the beacon of what should be delivered to be the most convenient.

Design a QA and testing strategy

To ensure your solution runs without a glitch, invest effort in designing a thorough QA strategy early on. Remember that well-rounded quality assurance is not limited to testing — although it is an essential part of QA. So, make sure to incorporate QA activities as early as at the planning stage and follow with the needed functional and nonfunctional testing activities.

Having finished the solution design phase, you’ll have the following deliverables:

Technical vision

Solution feasibility record

Solution architecture diagrams

Scope baseline

Backlog structure

QA and testing strategy

The goal of the project planning stage of the project discovery phase is to define how you’ll complete the project in a set timeframe, with the available resources, and with the constraints in mind. To do so, carry out the following activities:

Draw resources, time to market, and budget estimates

Kick the stage off with drafting a resource plan, where you identify, organize, and list all resources needed to complete the project. Later, you’ll use the plan as a blueprint to ensure project work is done on time and within budget.

Outline a project roadmap

Craft a strategic overview of the project’s major elements, including objectives, milestones, deliverables, resources, and the planned timeline. At the later stages of development, you’ll rely on the roadmap as a reference guide to keep the project team on track.

Set up a project team

Based on the type and complexity of your product, the time to market, the allocated budget, and other project constraints, assemble a project team to bring your vision to life. To make sure you’ve got an optimal team composition, feel free to study our in-depth project team structure guide .


Define project KPIs

Set up the metrics to track to measure your project success. These can span budget, quality, effectiveness, and timeline KPIs. Make sure every metric you introduce is SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.)

Set up progress-tracking tools

You don’t have to manage project data manually. Instead, go for a project management tool that will allow you to navigate data from various sources conveniently. The most popular progress tracking tools on the market span: Trello, JIRA, Hive, Asana, Nifty, and others.

Set up a project infrastructure

Once core discovery activities are completed, it’s time to finish the discovery phase of a project by bringing in operations and/or DevOps teams . They’ll set up the environments for development and testing activities to take place and create a pipeline for automatic deployments.

Once the project planning stage is over, you’ll have the following deliverables on hand:

Project roadmap

Budget estimates

Team composition

Project KPIs

Project infrastructure plan

Optionally, a pitch deck for startups to present to investors.

Who’s responsible for conducting and coordinating discoveries?

With the information above, you can venture into your project’s discovery phase on your own. Another way is to turn to an experienced provider of project discovery services who will support you with the right and skilled talent. Usually, a project discovery team includes a business analyst and a representative of an engineering team, be it a solution architect, an ML consultant , or any other role relevant to the project. An extended discovery team may consist of the following roles:

A product owner is the one who has the initial product idea and is responsible for developing the product vision. As a product owner, you will be involved in product development, but your tasks will be more strategic, while the major part of analysis, design, and development will usually be handed over to other team members.

A project manager is the one responsible for smooth communication between stakeholders, planning the scope of work, and tracking project progress.

A business analyst is the one who comes up with a specific plan of how to turn the initial vision into a real, functional solution. As a business analyst, you interview stakeholders, dive into their needs, and weigh those against the business context to craft a detailed SRS.

A solution architect analyzes the requirements and designs the solution logic and architecture. They also propose tools, technologies, and methodologies to ensure you get competitive, future-proof software.

A UX/UI designer is the one designing an uninterrupted and smooth user experience. They study user needs and preferences to make the future product as convenient and appealing as possible.

Additionally, your discovery team may include a DevOps engineer, a QA engineer, and a security engineer.

A DevOps engineer will be responsible for setting up the infrastructure for project activities and designing a pipeline for automated builds, if you choose to implement one.

Involve a QA engineer in discovery activities if your product is subject to stringent quality requirements. Let them evaluate the feasibility of requirements and incorporate the necessary QA activities into all stages of development.

A security engineer in turn will make sure your product complies with the necessary safety standards and boasts built-in protective mechanisms.

How does discovery differ in Agile and Waterfall projects?

Whether you opt for a linear project management approach, such as Waterfall, or one of the management methodologies from the Agile family will impact how the discovery phase is handled, too.

In Waterfall, all discovery activities are completed upfront, before development starts. A discovery phase usually takes up to eight weeks and 10% to 15% of the project budget. Upon completion, the team gets all the necessary deliverables.

In Agile, on the other hand, a discovery phase usually runs one or two iterations ahead of the development track. It usually takes a couple of weeks or less.

If you want a more in-depth look into the differences, read our article on the discovery phase in waterfall vs. agile projects .

What types of projects could benefit from a discovery phase?

We’ve sat down with Vladimir Sechko, lead BA at ITRex , to ask him about the types of projects that could benefit from introducing a discovery phase. Spoiler: any. And we’ll explain the reason for such a response later on. For now, we’ll draw on three examples from ITRex’s portfolio to illustrate when discovery activities come in handy.

Project 1. A software platform for market research and forecasting

A startup looking to create a market research and forecasting platform for retailers approached ITRex to test out the feasibility of their idea and further develop the solution concept.

Targeted at a fashion retail market, the ML-based platform would help manufacturers and retailers adjust the volume of produced and sold items to the demand in a particular place of sales interest. The prediction would be based on open-source data, including social media information.

The scope of delivery included researching data sources for the predictive model, thinking out the logic behind the predictive model, describing the future solution’s functionality, as well as laying down compliance requirements related to data collection and data storage.

A business analyst and an ML engineer were involved in carrying out discovery activities.

At the end of the discovery phase, the customer validated the feasibility of their idea, got a low-level functional solution with all the functional blocks thoroughly described and visualized, as well as learned the compliance requirements for the future solution.

The concept of the solution is now being pitched to investors, with a high likelihood of attracting the needed resources for further development.

So, we recommend carrying out a project discovery phase if:

Your solution has anything to do with AI, ML, and other innovative techs

Your solution relies on public data, and you are not familiar with data collection requirements in the segment

You haven’t honed the initial vision yet and don’t know which core features to concentrate on during the first development iteration

Project 2. A back office for orchestrating B2B flows

An owner of four lines of business, including a music streaming service, an online printing and embroidery service, and an online store allowing music bands to design and sell their merchandise, wanted to develop a convenient back office to orchestrate all lines of business. The back office would allow for improving the B2B management process that used to be partially offline.

During discovery, ITRex’s business analyst studied the client’s needs and designed a functional map of the future solution. The proposed solution would help both the client’s partners and staff communicate seamlessly within a partner module.

Thus, after carrying out the discovery activities, the client got an exhaustive functional map of the future solution that is to be realized using the PHP Symfony framework.

So, go for discovery activities if the solution in question is complex and features many integrations. The discovery phase will help you single out core features to concentrate on during the first development iteration in order to start getting value upfront.

Project 3. An unconventional mobile advertising platform

A startup turned to ITRex to validate and further develop the product vision that they wanted to bring to the market fast. They came up with a novel approach to advertising that had a gambling element to it. The mobile platform would allow advertisers to upload video ads for users to view in a TikTok-like way. The advertisers would also be required to set a sum they’re willing to spend for the campaign. While watching video content, random users would be shown a claim reward button that would only appear for a short time, where the reward would equal the sum set by the advertiser.

During the discovery phase of a project, we honed the client’s business idea, documented compliance requirements, selected the platform for the solution to be developed on, designed user experience, thought over the peculiarities of the rewarding algorithm, and put together anti-fraud mechanisms.

The client carried on developing the solution with the ITRex’s team.

So, opt for a discovery phase if:

The solution you’re developing lies in the intersection of domains, like advertising and gambling

The solution has to be rolled out quickly. In this case, the deliverables gained during discovery would guide the development process and help avoid development mistakes

You are unsure about the appropriate technology and platforms

You are unsure about compliance and security requirements

Drawing the line, a discovery phase can be valuable for any project that is aiming at successful delivery. Think of discovery activities as of another sanity check for your business idea.

A project discovery phase, too, helps navigate development in changing or unstable environments. With a honed vision, exhaustive requirements, and a thought out timeline on hand, it is easier to adjust the course of development without losing sight of the end goal.

Discovery deliverables help lower the dependency on product owners/product managers, too. In Agile, a product manager’s mistake can be fatal. In a project preceded by the discovery phase, where strategic decisions are thought out and verified collectively, the likelihood of a strategic failure is much lower.

How much does it cost to conduct a discovery phase of a project?

The total cost of a discovery phase depends on the complexity of your project and the scope of activities to be performed.

For example, for a project with a thought-out vision, the core of the discovery phase would revolve around coming up with an optimal approach to its realization and drawing all the needed estimates. That totals approximately $10,000-$15,000 .

Discovery activities for projects with an unclear vision feature a more expansive scope of work and are usually billed according to the Time & Material pricing model. The cost of discovery for such projects starts at $30,000 and more depending on the required deliverables.

To sum it all up

So, if you are a startup working on the next break-through application, kicking off the development process with a discovery phase can help you:

Nail the value proposition, user needs, and business goals

Define the scope of work and get detailed time and budget estimates

Get a working prototype to pitch to investors

Get a detailed architectural solution and start looking for the right partners and vendors

Get a thought-out product vision allowing you to avoid costly modifications in the later stages of development

Get a higher return on investment as a result

For enterprises operating in non-IT fields, in turn, introducing a project discovery phase can bring about the following benefits:

Well-documented project vision and scope

Real stakeholder feedback to base decisions on

Maximized impact of in-house talent

Thorough understanding of time and money investments

User-friendly experience

Higher return on investment

background banner

If you still have unanswered questions about the discovery phase of a project or are looking for a trusted partner to kick off your initiative, contact us . Our experienced BAs will lay the groundwork for your project’s success!

Tell us about your challenges, and we’ll come up with a viable solution!

  • Aliso Viejo, CA

discovery in projects

Get in touch

What “Discovery Phase” Actually Means for Your Project

discovery in projects

It’s tempting to take that brilliant idea of yours and turn it into an app. However, skipping the discovery phase often leads to the same mistakes as many other companies did.

Peeple , an app where you could rate and review people, was called off as there’s a lack of interest from the market. Meanwhile, Washboard failed to validate the pain point of users and create a product that users use. Big brands such as Google are also in the list, just remember the case with Google Glasses. 

At Uptech we’ve come across many startup owners who are left disappointed when their ‘promising apps’ failed to impress the users. Yet, those that are sticking to conducting initial project research have a significantly increased success rate. 

discovery phase consultation

What Is Discovery Phase?

Discovery phase or initial research is a process that takes place before kicking off project development. It is focused on identifying your target audience, their problems, and needs. In the discovery phase, you test your idea against the reality of solving problems and meeting expectations of the users. 

The main goal of the discovery stage is to dispel doubts and prove your assumptions on the app, one way or another. Based on the feedback and collected data, you can then fine tune your idea to create a product that matches the expectations and needs of the users. 

In other words, discovery phase is a data-driven approach to model your app. 

Who Is Involved In The Discovery Phase?

The Discovery team may change depending on the project. But there are some key members who manage the entire discovery phase of the software project.

  • Project manager

A project manager ensures flawless communication between the team and the client, proper planning of the scope of work, and tracks the project's progress.

  • Business analyst

Business analysts are responsible for the research. They study potential users' needs and consider possible ways to meet existing needs with a real business solution. 

  • Software architect

A software architect analyzes the initial technical requirements and offers tools and methodologies for developing a cutting-edge app. A software architect is a person who creates your product's architecture and logic.

  • UX/UI designer

A UI/UX designer has two zones of responsibility. It's a research part and a design part. On the one hand, together with the project manager or business analyst, they study users' needs. On the other, they create an intuitive interface to make your product as appealing as possible.

In the perfect scenario, the whole team is involved in the project management discovery phase. In reality, there could be situations when PM combines the two roles: PM and business analyst. It's ok until it ensures good performance.

Why Discovery Phase Is Crucial For Your Project?

The discovery phase of a software project is necessary for startup founders in different ways starting from finding product-market fit to saving up costs. 

Check out 4 key benefits of the discovery phase for software projects.

To build a market-driven product

Executing the project discovery phase allows you to validate project idea with users instead of going ahead with mere assumptions. It puts you on the right track by defining your target audience, modeling vision and business goals.

The discovery phase of the project helps test your idea/market fit and determine whether there is potential to build the Next Big Thing.

To create a great user experience

The discovery stage is also an excellent approach to define problems that you’re going to solve with the app. By talking to users, you get to know their pain points and turn them into value-added features on the app. 

Naturally, heeding the voice of your users allows you to create a product focused on great user experience.

To design prototypes

The best way to test an idea via user research is to build a prototype . Think of a product prototype as a simplified version of the final product. It aims to validate the usability, design, and functionality of the product. 

However, a prototype is still a far cry from the final product you need to have something to base on. That 'something' is exactly the information gathered during the project discovery phase. So without Discovery, it would be hard to build a really good prototype and test the idea. 

To set a clear product direction

In product development, there's such a thing as the software requirements specification . It is a roadmap of your future web or mobile application. In simple words, it's a plan of the whole development process and a team structure involved in the project.

SRS helps you keep the development process aligned and project team members aware of their job. To create one, you need a discovery phase in project management. A project discovery phase shines some light on the project's complexity and functionality. It defines the required efforts on design, development, testing, and project management stages.

With a clear direction for the app, the development could take off with clear milestones and possibly lower cost.

project discovery

What Will Happen If You Skip the Discovery?

A product nobody needs.

9 out of 10 startups fail — most often due to poor market fit. As I mentioned above, the first focus of the product discovery process is to validate the idea . In other words, to find a product/market fit. By studying the market, analyzing the target audience, defining the need, you reduce the overall level of failure. 

Costs you didn't expect

Finance problems are among the TOP 5 reasons why startups fail. The thing here isn't about being low on cash but throwing good money after bad. Skipping the Discovery phase leads to blurred goals and unchecked hypothesis, which often generate more expenses.

Never-ending scope

A product without measurable expected results is forever-taking. The Discovery helps you set the direction and shape the results, so you have a clear scope and product roadmap with deadlines. 

Missed deadlines

The side effect of never-ending scope is missed deadlines. I can't stress it enough, but the precise project boundaries are crucial in product development. The Discovery phase is exactly the time when you set those boundaries. A lack of one leads to the stretched-out development timeline and postponed release.

How Does Uptech Conduct Discovery Phase?

At Uptech, we involve the project manager, business analyst, and UX designer in the discovery phase of a project. Research usually takes around 4 weeks to carry out the data gathering and analysis.

Here’s the IT discovery process in greater detail with the discovery phase deliverables.

Step 1 - Collect Product Information For a Holistic Perspective 

The first step involves gathering existing information on the respective project from the stakeholders. We look into the business model, project roadmap, research results, wireframes, and other sources to build an initial understanding of the project.

We conduct an interview with stakeholders in order to stay aligned with business needs, goals, and priorities. It’s crucial to capture the visions and motivations that drive the idea behind the product. 

Once the information is gathered, we work on a business model canvas. It provides an overview of the entire project and allows us to study it from a different perspective. 


  • Business model canvas.

Step 2 - Step Into the User’s Shoe With Product Studio Session 

It’s important to put yourself into the customer’s shoes, and that’s what the next step is all about. The product studio session is where we work on assumptions of how our users might interact with the product.

During the session, we create a proto persona of the target users. Proto persona is akin to building a virtual portrait for the users. We envision the user's appearance, his/her likes and dislikes, occupations, hobbies, and more.  It’s also important to cover user problems that our product might solve.

We create a customer journey map (CJM). It’s a schema that reflects how the user will interact with the product, so to say what steps he will make within the app. A CJM is also helpful during prototype testing as it allows comparison of actual user behaviors with our assumptions. 

A hypothesis table is also created at this point based on preliminary assumptions of the app. For example, we assumed that features A, B, C will sufficiently address the user needs of X, Y, Z. These assumptions are turned into a list, which is then validated during the user interviews.

  • Proto persona profile;
  • Hypothesis table.

Step 3 - Conduct User Interviews to Validate Persona

So far, the proto persona is created based on assumptions. We ought to validate the persona by holding interviews with the users. During the interviews, we could test out the hypothesis and finetune the persona based on real users' needs, preferences, and problems faced. 

We update the persona accordingly, as it will become the foundation of further product modeling.

  • Finetuned proto persona.

Step 4 - Brainstorm Solutions With the Design Studio Session

It’s now time to put our best minds to work. Our team came together to explore a wide set of ideas, share thoughts, and offer solutions in the design studio session. It’s an intense session of brainstorming, critique, and prioritization. 

Based on the users’ needs and feedback, we raced towards probable solutions and ultimately shortlist the best ones. They are then used as a reference when we move on to work on a prototype.

  • Clickable prototype.

project discovery

Step 5 - Iterate Prototype With User Interviews

Before moving forward, we hold another round of user interviews to test the prototype that we’ve created. The intention is to validate the hypothesis which the prototype is based on. We prepare tasks, cases, and lists of questions to ensure that the interview is focused and carried out in a structured manner. 

The collected feedback is a valuable input to make enhancements and improve the prototype. 

  • Technical design document;
  • Timeline estimate;
  • Cost estimate.

After going through the steps of discovery phase, we’ll produce the following items:

  • Project roadmap;
  • Product wireframes;
  • Business model canvas;
  • Value proposition canvas;
  • Software requirements specification.

The deliverables are the result of the conducted research and analyzed data, which are adapted into the solution. They serve as a source of truth for the product development team.

Project Discovery

Tips for Conducting Discovery Stage

A thoroughly planned and executed project discovery leads to modeling the right product for the right users. Here are some valuable tips.

Tip 1: It’s important to build a united and trustful team with the stakeholders and get the latter highly involved in the different activities to create the best product.

Tip 2: Test the hypothesis against real customers. You may have a set of hypotheses about the product. Until you get feedback from potential customers, they remain assumptions which could be proven false. 

Tip 3 : Avoid interrupting the flow of ideas. You never know if a seemingly crazy idea may turn out to be the winner in a highly competitive market.

project discovery

How Much Time & Money Will a Product Discovery Phase Take?

The cost of the discovery phase of a project on average ranges from $12,000 to $20,000.

I always say that there's no exact sum because everything depends on each project specifically, its complexity, number of team members involved, etc.  The Discovery phase at Uptech usually takes from 3 to 5 weeks. After the initial discussion of the idea, we have a rough picture of the product, how it should look, and work. With that information at hand, we are ready to start.

Why Our Discovery Phase Approach Works? 

We’ve applied the project discovery steps in many of our projects. One of them is PNKYSWR app. 

PNKYSWR Overview:

PNKYSWR is a unique mobile product aimed at solving trust issues between individuals, including parents and their children. It does so by allowing both parties to create simple binding agreements and spelled out terms transparently and unambiguously. 

The app attempts to solve parents-children problems of lack of clarity in agreements. Before the development of the app started, our team conducted the discovery phase.

You can check more details on our project on our Behance case.

PNKYSWR discovery stage

Discovery Findings and Competitive Advantages: 

After gathering and analysing initial information, we found that current products in the micro contract market failed to address the needs of both parties to maintain irrefutable records of agreements. 

While NDAs and handshake agreements may or may not be admissible in court, they do indicate their intent.

Our findings highlighted the need for a service that allows both parties to strike a clear agreement with great clarity on the finer terms and details. 

We also realized that the app is receptive to, surprisingly, parents whose teenage children are provided with a phone. The app can help parents put up with excuses like ' five more minutes of video games, and I'll clean the room' by spelling out a clear agreement. 

It removes the nagging, complaints and enables both parties to come to a common understanding.

Suggested solution: 

The findings are then turned into actionable plans for development. We started by creating the MVP version of the app with React Native, and conducted testing on the main functional parts with users. 

Based on the collected feedback, additional features are planned and prioritized for the next phases of development.

leverage our expertise in discovery

Project discovery is pivotal in determining the success rate of a product or an app. We’ve shown that it can be done systematically in a 5 steps approach. The main goals are to remove doubts and allow development to be carried out in a clear direction. 

Talk to our dedicated development team to avoid building the next ‘Washboard’ that is doomed to fail.

Tell us about your idea. We will reach you out.

Thanks for reaching out.

Project Discovery Phase: What To Expect [2024]

Project Discovery is a 5-step process aimed to prevent you from missed deadlines, bloated budget, and endless scope creep. It's a first and crucial step in your way to build software that actually fits the strategy of your business. Since you can't afford to skip this crucial step, read on to learn more about the process, its benefits and deliverables.


Project Discovery Phase in a nutshell

What is a discovery phase in a project.

A discovery phase is a planning stage during project initiation, when team members gather information about the project, set up budget and form precise project boundaries. The goal of a discovery phase is to be able to make data-driven decisions and reduce all risks connected to product development.

Why do your need it?

A well-executed discovery phase leads to building a product that fulfils its purpose successfully. It allows for a development process to become aligned with business strategy and prevent pitfalls like budget overruns, missed deadlines, compromised quality, or scope creep.

What are the steps in discovery phase?

Project discovery stage can be divided into 5 steps:

  • Defining business goals.
  • Identifying how to measure the success.
  • Conducting user research.
  • Identifying customer journey.
  • Investigating the competition.



Let’s start with a few facts.

According to the MicKinsey research conducted in collaboration with the Oxford Industry:

on average, large IT projects run 45% over budget and 7% over time while delivering 56% less value than predicted.

How to prevent that?

The answer is: by focusing on the project discovery phase during the initial stage of product development.

Project discovery – what is it?

What is a discovery phase of a project.

Project discovery is a process of gathering information about a project to help people involved understand its vision, goals, and scope.

Usually, the process involves a number of experts including developers, business analysts, UX/UI designers. However in the perfect scenario, the whole team is involved from the start. This ensures better performance, elevates understanding of the scope , and fosters stronger individual commitment.

Project discovery stage is a groundwork for a data-driven approach during planning and executing software development.

The goal of a discovery phase

Depiction of project discovery objectives.

The knowledge gained during such research enables participants to create a tailored action plan to deliver the highest business value and achieve the key objectives of the project .

The main goal is to dispel any doubts and prove assumptions about a product.

Project discovery allows the team to identify the needs of the client, users, and stakeholders, as well as define the strong and weak points of the system or app. The more information are gathered during the discovery phase – the better.

<span class="colorbox1" fs-test-element="box1"><p>Discovery phase is also aimed to help eliminate uncertainties and reduce the overall risk of the project. </p></span>

Discovery stage helps to prepare a reliable scope for the project, set business and technical requirements, prepare project timeline and its documentation (software requirements specification), which then serve as guidance for software development team.

What does discovery mean in project management?

Since project discovery is the initial phase of product development, it allows gathering the information necessary for a project’s success before the process of software development project starts. This phase of a project allows for a wise management of development budget, time, energy, and talent. After discovery, the design and development process kicks off.

Project discovery – why do you need it before the development process starts?

Why is the project discovery phase important.

Imagine that you’re a stakeholder looking for someone to build an app for you. You have a good idea of what your app should look like and what it should do.

The deadline is tight and it seems you can’t afford a product discovery, so you hand a specification over to the software house and set the deadline and budget. Your contractor accepts the terms without additional questions and you’re going to receive your finished product in the next few months.

Those few months pass quickly and your app is finally done. All features are in place and working. The quality is great. It’s time to launch your project and wait for the first visitors.

After another couple of months go by, you look at the statistics and analytics and it seems that your visitors aren’t enjoying your perfectly crafted app as much as you expected. The conversion of your service is far from desirable. You spent your whole budget on an app that doesn’t return the investment and you have no money to develop it further as it doesn’t lead to many sales.

Something went wrong.

The key to success is understanding

Just because the project is built on time and within the budget does not mean it will succeed .

There are many other factors involved. Even the highest quality app made perfectly according to the specification won’t guarantee success when it’s not backed by proper knowledge and understanding.

There are many decisions that need to be made during software development, starting with the design of the user interface components and ending with the backend structure. A team of experienced digital product development specialists could serve you with loads of advice and suggestions for solutions you could never think of that could help build an app that is more user-friendly, faster and cheaper.

That isn’t possible if the team doesn’t understand the business vision of a project as well as its users.

The first step to make viable tech decisions

To make an efficient decision regarding technology, you need to understand business context well. IT and business matters shouldn’t go separately. To build a successful product, you need to break the boundaries between those both worlds.

Product discovery phase is a first step to build full understanding of business context and shared know-how between business, technology, and operations.

Benefits of a discovery phase in software development projects

Depiction of project discovery benefits.

There are several benefits of the discovery phase. It allows you and the whole team to:

  • make data-driven decisions instead of following assumptions,
  • work out the best user experience possible,
  • ensure that you and your vendor are on the same side before the phase of design and development begins,
  • discover the best tech and business solutions,
  • align business goals and strategy with technology stack and technological solutions,
  • gain an in depth understanding of a project, its target audience and the business goals
  • set the project timeline and establish core features
  • establish core user needs and provide best solutions for them,
  • gather user feedback from the target audience and real end users,
  • build and interactive prototype of an application.

Project discovery phase – why is it often neglected?

There are many reasons that companies give when refusing project discovery. Sometimes it’s a matter of a tight deadline, sometimes there’s a small budget, and some people think that project discovery is a luxury service and that it isn’t necessary to conduct it in every single project. In some cases, companies are sure they know enough and that it’s a waste of resources.

Possible consequences of skipping the project discovery phase

Neglecting the discovery phase can result in:

  • Scope creep – it happens because of the lack of measurable expected results which results in extensions and delayed release.
  • Climbing costs – improper budget planning and vague requirements generate changes increase costs.
  • Missed deadlines – not setting specific milestones results in missing deadlines, and no project boundaries with stretching timeline.
  • Compromised quality – not setting proper goals and constant changes because of that are the cause of rush and lower quality of software.
  • Not meeting your expectations – the lack of clear vision or clear understanding by the development team may result in building a product that won’t live up to your expectations.

Will skipping project discovery save you time and money?

Project discovery is a great chance for the development team not only to understand what should be delivered but also why it should be delivered. This one process helps to merge clients goals and business plan with users needs and wants with the know-how of a software development team .

Even though some may think they do not have time, budget or need for a discovery process, the example described earlier shows how much a project has to lose when overlooking this step.

You may think you save money by jumping right into development but without proper knowledge and when basing decisions on the assumptions many choices may turn out to be costly failures that need to be corrected anyway.

The same happens when the discovery phase is neglected to save time. There will be many decisions that need to be made that have a huge impact on the project. When made quickly without preparation, they may become the project’s future “to be or not to be”.

What are the steps in project discovery phase?

Project discovery phase starts with securing a budget for the process. Then it’s time to identify stakeholders and a person responsible for organizing and leading workshops.

Forming a project discovery team

Depiction of project discovery roles.

The discovery team should include various roles with diverse specialties and ranges of interest.

  • Project manager – conducts workshops and is responsible for contact between the team and you as a client.
  • Business analyst – prepares the requirements for the project.
  • UX designer – prepares prototype and wireframes, analyze the user journey to prepare user experience matched with the user’s needs.
  • Developer/technical expert – chooses the most viable tech solutions suited to solve your product’s business challenges and prepare technical requirements.

Project discovery – 5 steps

Depiction of project discovery process.

An example project discovery may be divided into 5 steps:

  • Defining business goals
  • Identifying how to measure the success
  • Conducting user research
  • Identifying customer journey
  • Investigating the competition

As software development is a complex and very project specific process, similarly, every project discovery must be treated individually .

What activities can be included in project discovery phase?

Discovery phase activities are aimed to gather necessary data about the project and its background. The activities include:

  • market research,
  • competitive analysis,
  • target audience analysis,
  • building a prototype.

Discovery phase deliverables

Depiction of project discovery outcomes.

Discovery phase usually ends up with the following outputs:

  • Project requirements specification – description of a project with its business goals, core features, technology stack, architecture overview.
  • Preliminary UX prototype – a simple representation of your product and the core features, ready to be tested with end users.
  • Project estimates – reliable budget estimation and project roadmap.
  • Competitor research, market research and market demand.
  • The list of critical features.

Tools used during a successful discovery phase

There are many tools and solutions that could be used during each of the steps of project discovery – these include workshops, questionnaires, surveys, interviews, etc.

Depiction of project discovery tools.

There are also a few specific tools that can be used during discovery workshops:

  • Mind map – it’s a diagram that visualizes the project needs and helps to understand the scope of a project.
  • User stories – it’s a tool that transform business requirements into functional requirements explaining user actions and helping to determine what problem each feature solves.
  • SWOT analysis – it’s aimed to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a project.

Project discovery phase – a bridge between the idea and its realization

Although at first project discovery may seem a needless luxury, we’ve seen today that it’s actual essential to any project. This valuable process helps to:

  • make accurate decisions based on evidence rather than assumptions,
  • better define the scope and goals of the project and thus get a more precise estimate,
  • ensure a high return on investment in the development,
  • create a user-centered experience,
  • eliminate the need of making costly changes on advanced development stages,
  • gain better development insight thanks to consultation with specialists.

These and many other benefits make project discovery a great investment , that every project should take advantage of.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our promise

Every year, Brainhub helps 750,000+ founders, leaders and software engineers make smart tech decisions. We earn that trust by openly sharing our insights based on practical software engineering experience.

discovery in projects

UX/UI designer with 11 years of professional experience. Loves holistic design, interested in UX strategy and Lean UX.

discovery in projects

Software development enthusiast with 8 years of professional experience in this industry.

Popular this month

Get smarter in engineering and leadership in less than 60 seconds.

Join 300+ founders and engineering leaders, and get a weekly newsletter that takes our CEO 5-6 hours to prepare.

previous article in this collection

It's the first one.

next article in this collection

It's the last one.

  • We’re hiring

Why is a Discovery Phase Essential for Project Success?

Planning a project?

Get your FREE introductory Discovery Session with our experts

You have an idea for a software project that will have a big impact on your business. Before jumping into the design and development it is crucial to understand exactly what problems it addresses, who the target audience is, if the solution will genuinely add value and a number of other key factors. This is why a Discovery Phase is an integral part of the project lifecycle. It bridges the gap between a concept and its realisation and defines success.

What is Discovery in project management and why does it matter?  

Project discovery is the initial step of project development (check out other services we offer ). It’s aimed at collecting information about the project to identify its Vision, Goals, and Scope. Let’s take a look at why this phase really matters for project success .

discovery in projects

According to Mckinsey research on implementing software projects , an average large IT project overruns its budget by 45% while benefits shortfall is 56% less than expected.

The Discovery phase is helpful to:

  • Better identify project scope and goals resulting in a more accurate estimate
  • Make design decisions based on data, not assumptions
  • Help ensure a higher return on investment 
  • Create a user-oriented experience
  • Avoid the need for making costly changes during advanced stages of the development process
  • Involve in-house specialists at an early stage to maximise the impact of their familiarity with the problem to be solved 

Skipping discovery can result in the following:

  • Never-ending scope creep. A lack of measurable expected results can cause constant extensions to project duration which delay release.
  • Climbing costs. Blurred goals and requirements generate changes in direction with further associated cost increases.
  • Missed deadlines. Without precise project boundaries, the development timeline can easily stretch out, postponing launch. 
  • Project doesn’t meet your expectations. A misunderstanding at the initial stage of cooperation can lead to more confusion further down the line, wasting both time and money.

Discovery Preparation

Before the discovery phase begins, there are a few things that need to be in place, a short “pre-discovery phase” if you will. Here’s what it includes (and what it doesn’t):

  • Identify your business goal.
  • Identify who is fulfilling the role of service owner or main point of contact.
  • Provide your project manager with any existing information or documentation about the project, if they think there is anything missing which stops the project from moving into the discovery phase, they would let you know.
  • Receive a ballpark quote for the project. The main quote for the project will be estimated as part of the discovery phase. This rough figure can be used to help with the next point: 
  • Secure a budget for the discovery phase . While pre-discovery is essentially free of charge, the discovery phase includes the fulltime work of a team of specialists and you should expect to be billed for it. 
  • No need for research. The discovery phase includes a large research element, so you don’t need to run additional studies beforehand. You should though be ready to provide any existing project information you have available.

Discovery Team

As soon as pre-discovery is done and the budget is determined we build a Discovery team to help achieve our objectives. The team usually has four experts – Business Analyst,  Developer, UI/UX designer, and Project manager.

Who’s responsible for what?

The Business Analyst  – in cooperation with the client the business analyst prepares use cases and requirements for the project. This includes identifying the main aims of the project, who the users will be and how they will use the software etc.

The Developer – during the discovery phase the developer keeps tabs on which technologies will need to be employed. Our senior tech team will carry out additional research to make sure the tech solutions used are those best suited to solving client’s business challenges.

The UI/UX designer – this team member is in charge of creating a user experience in keeping with the projects aims. This is likely to include easy navigation, intuitive design, and a visually attractive project. She makes wireframes and prototypes to bring the product vision to life and make sure target users understand how to use the software.

Project Manager – the project manager is in charge of:

  • Scheduling and arranging client meetings
  • Making records of all the details discussed during the meetings
  • Ensuring productive engagement between the product discovery team and the development team.

Optionally, other specialists might also be involved in the discovery phase if their expertise is required.

Discovery Steps

The project discovery phase includes the following steps:

  • Identifying the stakeholders. The listing should incorporate product owners,  administrators, end-users, investors, developers, or any other people involved in building or utilizing the final product. 
  • Identifying business goals. This action helps to determine the main aim of your business solution, the problem that needs to be addressed within discovery to increase company productivity or boost revenues.
  • Defining how to measure success. As the product owner, you should have a clear vision of the end product and make it clear to the team what the specific goals are that help to define project success.
  • Project awareness. The team occasionally needs to be in touch with other people involved in the project to make sure all the requirements are successfully met.
  • Checking existing research and documentation. If you already have any market survey results or user interviews, there is no need to waste time on extra discovery research. Provide the business analyst with the appropriate papers.
  • Building a user journey and identifying the target audience. These tools will be helpful when creating the technical solution and help you to achieve your objectives via efficient marketing strategies. 
  • Researching competitors. A market study allows us to figure out the pros and cons of existing products in the same or related niches. Thus, you will be able to find the niche your solution can occupy to engage customers. 
  • Reviewing the data prepared so far and making a Software requirements specification. This process turns aggregated data from cold statistics into an applicable list of technical requirements. 
  • Estimating the timeline and budget. The ultimate goal of the preparation is to reach the stage where the team can give an accurate estimate of the time and costs they need to create an MVP or full-scale product. 
  • Creating Roadmap. The other essential document the discovery phase leads to is this full project timeline with specified milestones, deliverables and deadlines.

Some steps might be reordered or omitted if necessary. As a result, the duration and cost of the Discovery Phase will change.

Discovery phase sessions

Discovery sessions are the meetings between our team and yours when we: 

  • examine the domain area
  • explore your business processes 
  • learn about your expectations from the product
  • identify bottlenecks
  • define high-level solutions to meet the challenges and bottlenecks identified
  • specifying priorities and list a backlog
  • generate project roadmap

Remote interviews allow us to dig deeper into the knowledge and expectations of other stakeholders outside the core team:

With specialists from your wider team:

  • We might ask them to fill out a form with questions. In this way,  the interviewees are not distracted from work and can provide us with information at their convenience. 

With product users:

  • If your project already has some users, you might come up with a questionnaire for them to complete and give their feedback on the product. 
  • A/B testing is sometimes appropriate to find out what users prefer. 
  • Additionally, user feedback can be collected with the help of tools like Hotjar, Google Analytics or similar services.

Duration and price

Conventionally, project managers split a project’s life cycle into five phases: initiation, planning, execution, control, and closure. Within this model, Discovery should be understood as a core element of the project initiation and planning phases, bridging the gap between the two. 

Within the modern Agile management framework, Discovery Phase is usually placed in the first sprint. It helps to clarify how well a development team and client understand each other from the beginning. 

The discovery phase can last from a couple of days to a couple of weeks or even months depending on the project complexity and scope of work. The average time frames are:

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.

The billing is carried out according to a fixed price or on a time & material model based on hourly rates and the working time of all members of the discovery team involved in the process. 

Discovery phase deliverables

Discovery phase deliverables might vary according to the project size, complexity, phase and degree of urgency. As a result of the Discovery Phase you should receive the following items (depending on the needs of the project at a particular time ): 

  • Software requirements specification (SRS). This is a document fully describing the project, feature set, recommended tech stack and architecture outline. Review it and suggest changes before approving it.
  • Preliminary UX prototype. Long before the development team starts working on the project, 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.
  • Development roadmap and estimates. You will receive a recommended team lineup, an estimate of the development budget (see how we make fixed price estimates ) and deadline. The final numbers calculated during the client discovery phase are unlikely to change (unless the project scope significantly changes during the process of development)
  • Discovery phase proposal. A development process proposal based on Discovery conclusions will help ensure that the project team will create a product that meets all the client’s requirements and needs.

Building a great house requires a solid foundation. A Discovery Phase helps to clarify the project vision and minimise development risks. It empowers the team to implement the project just as it was intended.

The Process of Discovery and Why It is Important for Your Development Projects?

Process of Discovery in Software Development

A good beginning makes the rest of the journey easier. 

The same holds for the discovery stage of development or digital solution projects.

Unfortunately, discovery is often skipped in most projects across industries. This results in missed deadlines and overshooting the budget. No matter the size of your company, such poor planning has serious consequences.

This blog post will explain the discovery process and why it is essential for a project.

Let’s begin!

What is The Process of Discovery?

Discovery is the first step of project development. It is all about collecting information about the project to help everyone understand its vision, goals, and scope.

In the discovery phase, you can identify your client's needs, product users, and project stakeholders. The involvement of all stakeholders in this phase ensures a high success rate, a better understanding of the scope, and more substantial team commitment.

During this phase, the company's management teams come together to flesh out required details of the project by establishing essential requirements, estimating costs, and laying out the project timeline.

The idea is to accumulate as much information as possible so that your project goals do not lack detail and design. Then, with the knowledge gained from discovery, you can build a tailored action plan and move forward.

Why Project Discovery Process Matter?

When you try to get your product up and running at the earliest, the project discovery phase may seem like a complete waste of time, and you are tempted to skip it altogether. However, discovery is crucial for the success of digital development projects. 

Let’s take a look at the dangers of skipping the project discovery phase, as reported by McKinsey .

  • 45 percent of projects go over budget.
  • 7 percent of projects miss deadlines for their completion.
  • 56 percent of projects fail to deliver the total value of the initially planned product.

Fortunately, the project discovery phase can mitigate all the risks and provide you with the much-needed clarity and vision for your project. 

Here’s why project discovery matters:

  • Discovery enables you to identify project scope and goals.
  • It puts you on the right track by identifying your target audience, project vision, and goals.
  • With clear goals, you can create accurate project estimates in terms of budget and time.
  • Poor planning leads to product rework. Discovery helps reduce the risk of missed deadlines and exceeding estimated budgets.
  • Projects not based on research and understanding fail. Discovery ensures you make project decisions based on data and analysis rather than mere assumptions.
  • Heeding to your users' voices helps you develop a product that’s focused on a great user experience. 
  • With the discovery, you can avoid making costly changes towards the later stages of product development.
  • Establish a fool-proof road map for your project with a detailed, step-by-step plan.
  • A dynamic team right from the discovery phase can serve you with the right advice and suggestions for your digital solution. Regular communication with your team will help you establish two-way trust and move forward without problems.

Such benefits make project discovery a significant investment that companies should not consider needless.

Imaginovation’s Discovery Process Breakdown

The discovery phase aims to help you manage time and budget wisely. Efforts in the discovery phase go a long way toward your project’s success.

We, at Imaginovation, have come up with a dedicated and structured process for discovery that’ll help you eliminate costly project mistakes.

Our delivery plus consulting phase uses various research tools and methodologies to understand your challenges. In addition, we reach out to your team and conduct stakeholders’ interviews, competition audits, and an analysis of your current work to gather as much project information as to make the entire discovery process effective.  

We ensure that the process outcomes align with the problem we intend to solve and the critical metrics for project success.

Once we do this successfully, we bring your digital solution to life in the form of a wireframe to ensure we are on the right track in terms of UX and functionality. The agile methodology we follow empowers you to collaborate and participate in the entire process.

Here’s what we typically do in a project discovery stage.

1. Establish Business Objectives

We begin by determining your business needs that must be addressed. Then, we check on your broader strategic business goals, which should be adhered to, even if you later introduce some changes to the product.  

This step helps us understand your business model, needs, potential challenges, opportunities, and commercial considerations. This is an essential step to capture your business vision and idea behind the product.

Typical activities included in this step are:

  • Identifying the stakeholders (List all responsible, internal, and external representatives).
  • Conducting stakeholder meetings.
  • Exchanging ideas with all stakeholders.
  • Identifying bottlenecks.
  • Conducting value proposition workshops for the product.
  • Defining your short-, mid-, and long-term business goals.
  • Identifying KPIs and other measures of project success.

Deliverables include:

  • Documentation of the business specification requirements and discovery findings.
  • Documentation of project scope.
  • A strategy Map. 

2. Audit and Review Existing Assets

We believe there is no need to reinvent the wheel, and this step helps us save time. Here, we review your existing assets, including market surveys, user interviews, wireframes, design mock-ups, or available research data (if any). 

Our goal is to lay out improvements and identify metrics out of sync with the industry standards through this step.

  • Listing what kind of existing assets could be beneficial.
  • Asking the client for existing user personas, technical specifications, research data, or wireframes.
  • Auditing and reviewing the assets thoroughly by identifying the pain points and takeaways.
  • Exploring insights and critical areas for optimization.
  • Documentation of a finalized problem statement backed up with evidence from existing assets.
  • Documentation of improvement required.

3. Conduct Competitor Analysis

We prepare to dig deeper and review the market by running a practical competitor analysis. During this step, we validate the market, analyze the competitors, interview users, and (if required) design user personas.

We help you determine the pluses and minuses of your competitors, the main features they offer, the kind of users they have, and other essential points.

Becoming aware of your competitor’s weaknesses is necessary since you can turn them into your strengths. Also, being aware of their strengths will help you ensure you work toward the competitive advantage.

Moreover, you might come across some practices of your competitors that are worth following.

  • Market research.
  • Data gathering around industry trends.
  • Identifying the competitors.
  • Using research tools, identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.
  • Talk to competitors’ customers.
  • Check online reviews.
  • Documentation of gaps that must be filled.
  • Definition of pros and cons of available solutions.

4. Build a User Journey

We assure you that the user journey mapping process we follow will help you build a better product with enhanced UX. We attempt to understand your user base, target audience, key concerns, expectations, and behavior patterns.

This step aims to help you move forward toward building a solution that meets user requirements and expectations. And also boost customer satisfaction with the product.

User Journey

  • Review user data based on research.
  • Detailed discussion and analysis of the user profiles, needs, and permissions.
  • Testing of assumptions and hypotheses of the customer journey.
  • User personas.
  • User/Customer Journey map.

5. Visualize User Flow with Solution Framing

In this step, we focus on creating a visual solution. Then, we design a prototype and test it on users. Moreover, the stakeholder feedback of the 'rough draft solution' (usually wireframe or prototypes) we offer here helps save time and effort in rework and revisions.

  • Visualize user flow.
  • Design key screens/touchpoints.
  • User flow diagram.
  • Wireframes based on user interface screens.
  • Clickable product prototype based on the wireframes.

6. Features and Functionality for MVP

Here, we will define how your application will function and deliver its intended purpose. We will also uncover a detailed list of application features for building an MVP – Minimum Viable Product.  

  • Conduct discussion to determine functional requirements.
  • Build a list of mandatory features and functions of the application.
  • Product backlog for the development of MVP with complex functions and features.

7. Technology Mapping

Here, we perform a technology audit for your existing application (if any), check for integration needs, review in-house technical abilities, and recommend the best option for technology. 

  • Conduct a technical audit of the current solution.
  • Perform application integration analysis.
  • Review and discuss available technology options.
  • Finally, suggest the best option based on performance and value.
  • Solution architecture.
  • Summary of agreed-upon technology to support the need of the application.

8. Creating a Roadmap

This is the final stage of the discovery process to help you get a detailed plan. Here, we offer you absolute transparency about all the functions and sequences. In addition, there will be clarity about the timeline, roadmap, milestones, and budget.

  • Build a thorough product roadmap.
  • Perform a time and cost analysis.
  • Project plan/roadmap.
  • Cost proposals and time estimates to get the first version to the market. 

Why Imaginovation?

Imaginovation has built a reputation as a customer-centric web and mobile development company. We have created satisfying digital journeys for clients ranging from small-and-medium businesses to Fortune 500 clients.

More importantly, we operate using Agile, an iterative development approach followed by most modern development companies. 

What you get as a result:

  • Since it is iterative, from product building to feedback, testing happens iteratively. Improvements are based on the lessons learned in the previous sprint.
  • You get to be part of the product development journey.
  • You can collaborate and be part of the decision-making.
  • Freedom to make changes during the design and development process.
  • Stress-free participation because of transparency and responsiveness.  

Discuss Your Next Project Idea With Imaginovation

The discovery is the most crucial phase for successful product delivery. 

Performing it with a reliable and experienced company like Imaginovation will get you on the right project beginning, and you can move to the development process without any worries. 

Contact us at Imaginovation. We can help you build a foundation for your solution, which will ensure its future success.

Imaginovation is an award-winning web and mobile app development company with vast experience crafting remarkable digital success stories for diverse companies. Let's talk.

Michael Georgiou

Table Of Content

Estimate your project cost.

User our project cost calculator tool to get a ballpark estimate on your project.

Frequently Asked Questions

Related articles.

IT Staff Augmentation

What is IT Staff Augmentation and How Does It Work?

In today's fast-paced tech world, agility is key. That's where IT staff augmentation steps in. It's a powerful strategy embraced by…

Best AR and VR Applications

Applications of AR and VR [Explained with Examples]

Have you ever wished to step into a comic book while reading one? Or roam freely in a medieval castle when learning about it? Or see how a…

Apple Vision Pro

The Future Has Arrived: Why You Need to Build Your App for Apple Vision Pro

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, companies are continually seeking innovative platforms that can offer them a competitive edge…



Project Discovery: What is it and Why Do You Need it?

Published: September 3, 2018

14 min read

Last updated: November 8, 2023

Andrii Bondarenko

Andrii Bondarenko

Content Team Lead @ Stormotion

In this article, you'll learn:

❓ When Do You Need a Discovery Stage?

📈 benefits of the project discovery: how it will help you, 🛠️ inner flows of a project discovery stage, 📆 how much time does a ds usually take, 💸 how much does it cost to conduct a project discovery, 🔋 stormotion’s case study, 💡 takeaways.

Without a doubt, delivering a great project supposes managing the development phases in an efficient way. Louis L'Amour once said: “A good beginning makes a good end” and for a project’s lifecycle this quote couldn’t be more true. In the product’s development the better you plan and prepare the processes, the more high-quality the final product is. And exactly the desire to deliver great software projects makes Project Discovery Phase important.

A Project Discovery Stage (DS) is a pre-development phase that makes the road between the idea/concept and its implementation more accurate and thorough. The main goal for this phase is to clear all the uncertainties and get the answers to all the essential questions before proceeding to the project’s development.

Establishing great communication with the client plays a crucial role in a project’s future, and here the DS helps us to figure out the client’s expectations, project input, and the best ways of realization.

As an experienced development company, we’d like to share our expertise and show the processes that our team & clients are going through at this stage. Let’s take a look at Stormotion’s point of view on conducting a Discovery Phase.

The Project Discovery process is a common stage in the development lifecycle of many digital products. The most common cases when it’s required are:

However, we tailor this stage to the needs of every client so even if your case isn’t mentioned, the Discovery Phase may still bring some benefits to you. Which ones? Let’s find out!

A correct Discovery helps both the team and the client to get on the same page and ensures a smooth workflow for the future development. Moreover it answers 2 important questions: “What exactly are we building? What do we need to build it?”

What are the other possible gains of the Project Discovery process for you? Take a look:

  • The scope of work is clearly defined, allowing us to provide an estimate of the time frame and budget . This allows to manage cost expectations and understand which Web or Mobile product we’re building for you.
  • There are no dark spots within the project — we have a comprehensive solution to each task and just need to execute it using our clear-cut workflow.
  • Project Discovery Phase provides you with some material deliverables (mockups, a prototype, user stories, and use cases) that give you and us the full vision of your product. It can even be presented to investors and early-stage angels during Pre-Seed and Angel pitches.
  • Finally, for both teams it’s a kind of test drive that helps our customer to decide whether we’re a good fit for future cooperation or not.

During the project initiation a thorough planning stage helps the Tech Team to understand the entire project idea, precise project boundaries, initial technical requirements and deadlines for the final product.

Celebrating success with our clients after conducting the Discovery Stage. P.S. You can find our PMs on the screen 🙂 ( image by Stormotion )

2. Story Building and Project Charter Creation

The main task at this stage is to complete the Project Charter and to gather User Stories regarding the project.

Project Charter is a document that contains the essential information regarding your project. Typically, it consists of the project's objectives, main stakeholders, its risks, benefits, and reasons. Being created by the Project Manager, it helps to explain in detail all the vital components stated above to stakeholders and the Tech Team. Thus, it creates a plan of the project’s basics that is going to be referenced at the next stages.

At the initial stage Product Discovery Phase helps to previously create a project roadmap as well as to furtherly insert discovery phase activities on a development timeline.

The onboarding stage is always necessary since it helps us understand the client's project ( image from enxcl )

User Stories, in turn, are needed to have a better understanding of the user's desires and goals regarding the product. User Story is a way to express and structure what users want to see from their perspective in terms of features and functionality. Here’s a simple example: A user wants to sign up via Facebook or Google to avoid wasting time on filling in personal data.

By the way, you can check out our comprehensive explainer on User Story creation with a step-by-step instruction:

How to Write a Good User Story: with Examples & Templates

3. Prototyping

While the Project Charter is being filled with all the needed data, our UX-Designer is starting a UX Mind Map creation. This is the backbone of the application which shows how the mentioned use cases and user stories are implemented on different screens.

A UX-Designer is an expert who develops smooth user flows for your target audience or customers. They create Wireframes and a clickable UX-Prototype to embody the vision of the product and ensure that your target audience will understand how to use the product.

Finally, the mindmap is converted into an interactive and clickable prototype. Specifically, we at Stormotion use Figma as our prototype-building tool.

4. Technical Research

While the UX-Designer is working on the mindmap and prototype, Stormotion’s experienced Senior Tech-Team conducts separate research that provides us with an in-depth understanding of solving challenging tech tasks. This may be the integration of a specific feature, like an AI-Based matching algorithm or working with a non-common SDK, for instance.

Product discovery phase makes project team members aware of software requirements specification beforehand.

Discovery findings during initial research make further software development more efficient ( image by Mara Drozdova )

Using a minimal UI and the simplest prototyping, Developers test these solutions to deal with the trickiest parts of the project.

5. Providing a Detailed Estimate

Finally, all the previous steps provide us and the client with a clearer vision of the project. It allows us to make a realistic and detailed estimate and move further to the development itself. For the Discovery process, this stage is the last one. The whole process is supported by the Project Manager.

A Project Manager is a mediator between the Tech Team and the customer. His tasks are to thoroughly plan and prioritize the project’s objectives as well as to organize and coordinate the Tech Team to ensure the eventual satisfaction of the stakeholders.

However, as we noticed at the beginning of this paragraph, some stages may be replaced or skipped, if reasonable. Thus, the length and cost of the Discovery Phase will change as well.

Project Discovery Phase is, in general, a process of avoiding possible misunderstandings and finding a common ground between the customer and the Tech Team. As in several steps from the previous section we mentioned extra research, there are actually two parallel Discovery Stages within the conduction of the whole process. Those are DS on UX and DS on technology .

Let’s figure out what these stages are about and who is responsible for the conduction.

Discovery Stage on UX

Previously we mentioned a UX-designer as one of the key roles in a team structure for a proper DS conduction. Specifically, in this section, he’s the main character that’s responsible for the whole stage.

As we are discussing the inner flows of a global process, the objectives are quite similar. However, we need to specify them a little bit more in terms of UX. So what are the goals for the DS on UX?

  • Research UX best practices for the current market.

Depending on the project and its objectives, the UX design may significantly vary in different cases. If a client wants to create a companion app, there are some specified UX best practices that should be considered in the design. Minimizing the irrelevant information, creating the most convenient block positioning, and establishing high-speed performance are the priorities for this case.

  • Take into account the comparative advantages of direct competitors.

Comparative advantages as a term suppose that a company offers products or services at a lower opportunity cost than its market competitors. A designer should research the UX features that make competitors look more beneficial for a client when it comes to choosing.

In the middle of the Project Discovery

At this phase, a project competitor research allows making product’s business goals more visible on the example of similar ones ( image by zara magumyan )

For example, exploring the priorities in decisions may tell a lot about the business plan of a company and assist in creating your own products. Keeping in mind the researched advantages, designers will be able to synthesize even more advantageous products in terms of UX.

  • Create a good Unique Selling Point (USP) based on the conducted research.

After the two previous points, a designer should already have a vision of features and decisions that will be beneficial for the project. With the researched knowledge and the market examination, he can set a factor that differentiates this product from the competitors.

In this part, a Unique Selling Point (USP) for the project becomes more clear. USP is usually an aspect that makes a company outstanding in comparison with competing market propositions. Some famous selling points are without a doubt Stripe with their "Payments infrastructure for the internet", and Shopify’s "The platform commerce is built on".

Inspiring examples of great USPs are directly or indirectly emphasizing the unique features of the product. Exactly the correct emphasis creates a great vision of being ahead of the closest competitors. Knowing that companies are able to create notable marketing strategies to increase sales and recognition.

Discovery Stage on Technology

At this stage, the main role is taken by a new character — a Tech Lead . Firstly, in Stormotion’s project lifespan, he is responsible for tech ideas. His tasks are to generate new ideas regarding development as well as to monitor and verify the existing ones. Secondly, the application’s architecture along with technological best practices are also on his shoulders throughout the Project Discovery Phase.

At the highest level, Tech Lead’s role is to ensure the best technical stack for the project while avoiding potential risks at this point.

The main goals at this stage are:

  • Understand whether it’s possible to create the product or add a feature the client wants.

It’s a common case for a development team when there’s no certainty in whether it’s possible to fulfill customer’s requirements. As the variety of ideas that a client has regarding their product is unpredictable, exactly at this stage we conduct the idea’s “viability test”.

Development team may be a magic wand for creating amazing projects, however, not every idea has ways of a proper implementation.

It’s vital to determine the suitable set of features for a project to approach its business goals as close as possible (image by Ghani Pradita )

For example, a customer’s idea is to integrate his project into Microsoft Teams. Therefore, our team needs to find out a way to integrate the project’s features, considering the inner Teams’ restrictions. To do so, we conduct a Discovery Phase where we create a Proof of Concept, get our technical answers, and finally provide an estimate.

  • Determine a suitable Tech Stack.

Every case is unique, and it’s almost impossible to tell in advance the Tech Stack we should use to match the customer’s needs. We at Stormotion specialize in creating products using our React Native skills. However, in case our clients need something more than React Native may offer, we are confident enough to pick from Java, Kotlin, Node.js, or TypeScript to deliver a quality product.

Exactly after hearing out all the ideas and requirements from the client, it becomes possible for a Tech Lead to select Tech Stack that allows achieving every objective.

The main factors that affect the time frames for this stage are:

  • project complexity;
  • its size (=scope of work);
  • and the company’s workload at the moment.

On average for small projects like creating simple Proof of Concepts, it may take about 2 weeks to conduct a thorough DS. For complex projects like creating and connecting a companion app to an IoT device, Discovery Phase may take up to 8 weeks .

Since Discovery requires hours of researching, brainstorming, conducting market analysis, and creating wireframes it’s usually considered as any other kind of work that the agency does for you. Therefore, it makes the following rule pretty reasonable:

The cost of Project Discovery services is usually calculated in the same way as the development itself: by multiplying the number of needed hours by your team’s rate.

From the perspective of our experience and the projects we managed to build, an average DS assumes about 10-20% of the overall project cost. However, as an output we get a certain amount of finished work to use in the next development phases.

What is a Discovery Phase and Why Your Project Needs it?

' src=

Published: 17 Dec 2020

Discovery Phase Business

An idea is the driving force behind innovation. Think airplanes. While it’s been a long-time dream of humankind to fly, the Wright brothers were the first to build an aircraft. They began with a simple prototype like a glider, and through a series of betas, constructed and flew the first powered, sustained, and controlled airplane. Fast-forward to 2020, and the same holds for building complex software systems. All of them started with an idea discovery. 

In this article, we will review the Discovery Phase of a software project and what it contributes to your software development lifecycle. After reading this post, you will have an understanding of what the Discovery Phase is, its stages and outcomes, and why it’s essential for your project as well as the best ways to start your own Discovery Phase . 

What is a Discovery Phase and where does it fit in the Software Development Life-Cycle (SDLC)?

Developing anything, especially software, is a huge undertaking. There’s so much work to be done that the task seems insurmountable. That’s the beauty of the Discovery Phase – it sets you off to a good start as the onset of your development lays the foundations for your product. 

Read Also: Software Development Life Cycle: A Guide to Phases and Models

A discovery phase sets you off on the right path and ensures a good start to your software development journey. You gather requirements, develop a business vision and concept, and decide on a tech stack. The outcome of the effort transforms into a formal document referred to as a Software Requirement Specification Sheet (SRS). 

Thus, we can define a Discovery Phase as an initial step within the Software Development Life-Cycle, where crucial information about the project is gathered and documented. 

Why do you need a Discovery Phase?

Skipping the Discovery Phase is tempting, especially when you really need to get your project up and running. However, this step is critical for building a successful product. Here’re some reasons why you need to start with a Discovery Phase. 

You identify risks . The Discovery Phase is a way to take the uncertainty out of the development process. A clear understanding of requirements, goals, and expectations enables more accurate estimations. 

You establish reliable communication . Your development team will always be on the same page as they can look at the SRS document and see what needs to be done. 

You have a roadmap . When well-defined requirements guide your team, they have a plan to follow. Key deliverables from the Discovery Phase, such as timelines, scope, budget, and documentation don’t leave much room for chaos. That helps get your idea off the ground as planned. Even relatively small things such as wireframes can help bring both interest, and investment to your product.

You make a better solution . The Discovery Phase lets your team better understand the underlying drivers of the project, leading to more in-depth analysis and insight-driven decisions. 

What outcomes should you expect from a Discovery Phase?

As you can see, there’s a lot of ground to be covered during the Discovery Phase. 

Most importantly, the decisions you make during this phase will define the scope of your project where you’ll be able to look at the project from a higher ground and see the deliverables at every point. 

  • Time – the project is broken down into chunks (a set of features to be released), each with its own release date. 
  • Budget – pre-defined technology solutions prevent taking the wrong turn down the road, saving you from financial losses.  
  • Software Requirement Specifications – a document that describes your project, including features, tech stack, and architecture. T his is important because with this document you can have nearly any competent company develop your project based on the requirements that you have created.
  • An MVP development plan – a projection of your bare-bones prototype with a simple interface and key features to explain how the end product will function. 

As such, the Discovery Phase ends with a detailed development plan, technical specifications, and projections for an MVP.  

What are the steps in the Discovery Phase?

Apart from stakeholders, the Discovery Phase typically involves several specialists, including a business analyst, tech lead, project manager, and UX/UI designer. 

Step 1. Selection. 

Goal: To build a team that will operate the Discovery Phase. 

Key role: business owner, stakeholders. 

The initial stage of the Discovery Phase is choosing how you’re going to handle it. Below we’ve described several ways companies operate a Discovery Phase, so you can pick one that suits you most. 

Dedicated Team . The Discovery Phase requires specialists with all kinds of expertise. At NCube, we can assemble a team consisting of a business analyst, project manager, UX/UI designer, and software architect, so you’ll have all bases covered for the Discovery Phase. Each team member is handpicked after a thorough screening process and approved by you. 

The team works directly with you (and only with you) full time, and you have complete control over the discovery process. We can even take it further and provide software developers when you are ready to move on to an MVP. The Discovery Phase kicks off right after signing an NDA with you and the team. 

Traditional outsourcing . A viable option to operate the Discovery Phase is to find a vendor who would use their in-house team to fulfill your vision. This way, you will be less involved in the discovery process and only receive deliverables you and the vendor agreed on and established in the contract. While outsourcing is one of the most cost-efficient options on the market, there is always a risk that the Discovery Phase will be handled by someone lacking domain expertise and technical competence. After all, creating a vital document like SRS takes an expert hand. 

Freelancers . Finally, there’s an option to backfill all vacancies you need for the Discovery Phase by digging into freelancing platforms. While there are many skilled professionals out there up for freelance work, hiring off Upwork (or any other platform) often means exposing your Intellectual Property to someone who’s not obliged by a contract and so can potentially use your vision to build a competing product. 

Another concern is managing your freelancers. The Discovery Phase requires close cooperation between all team members. Compared to Dedicated Team and Outsourcing models where team members work together in-house, it can be problematic to synchronize and control freelancers’ work, leading to delays.  

Step 2. Analysis (Business Goals)

Goal: to align your business goals with the product’s features

Key role: Business analyst 

Your goals define what features will go into the product. At this point, a business analyst will sit down with you and other stakeholders to discuss your vision and goals. During the interview, they will be looking for an answer to the following questions: 

  • What is the problem your software will be solving?
  • What solutions already exist that solve that problem? 
  • What makes your solution different?
  • What are the key features?
  • What market are you going to target?
  • What platforms does your target market prefer?

  Note that, if there’s a need, a business analyst can conduct stand-alone research to find out whether there’s a market for your product and analyze the competition in your niche. 

Step 3. Identification (Key Features)

Goal: to document a set of features that are essential to validate your idea. 

Key role: Project manager

Now that you have identified your target audience and competitors, a project manager can prioritize and document the product features. As you validate the idea, it’s best to focus solely on crucial ones. A project manager can help you decide on must-have features for your MVP. With each iteration, you can expand and tweak a set of features, depending on how your users respond. During the Discovery Phase, it’s important to distinguish between key features and ones to be added later. 

Step 4. Design (Wireframes)

Goal: to document business logic of your software. 

Key role: Business analyst, project manager

A wireframe is a draft of your software that reflects the user path, including transitions between software elements. Wireframes are created based on user stories. They play a key role in designing functionality since they explain how a user navigates the software. Wireframes lack attractive UI elements, but they include core functions and how the user should interact with them. 

Step 5. Prototyping

Goal: to create a preliminary design concept.

A UX/UI designer will use the approved wireframes to create a design concept. So, before your development team lays their hands on an MVP, you will be able to take a peek at how your product’s interface will look like once it’s finished. That is especially useful because you’ll understand early on how your product will function and feel.

Step 6. Technical Documentation 

Goal: to document technical requirements for your project. 

Key role: Business analyst, software architect

At this point, a business analyst and software architect work together to draw Software Requirements Specifications. This document will be a guide that the tech team will revisit as they navigate through the SDLC steps. In essence, it should give everyone involved an idea of the final product. A typical SRS document includes:

  • A purpose of the future software product;
  • Its market niche and competitors overview;
  • Stakeholders’ goals and expectations; 
  • Ways to implement software, including architecture solutions, technologies, and third-party integrations;
  • Use cases and user stories;
  • MVP scope with features that help validate idea;
  • Interface components;
  • Technical risks that can affect the project and delivery time;
  • Future development projections. 

Step 7. Development

Goal: Start developing an MVP

Key role: project manager, software developers

Reaching this step means that the Discovery Phase is over, and you’re all set for the development of your MVP keeping the technical specification document at hand.  


Without a tech team in-house, creating an SRS falls on stakeholders’ and business owners’ shoulders. Making a good case of the Discovery Phase and its deliverables calls for serious technical prowess. If you’re not a tech person, it’s best to bring in a discovery phase project manager who will take the lead in the Discovery Phase. If you have such a need, we’d be happy to help with the Discovery stage and beyond. Let’s connect.

Recommended articles

IT Offshoring

10 Jan 2024

Agile nearshore software development services

01 Jan 2024

The cost of developing a web application

16 Jan 2023

The Discovery Phase in Software Projects

96% of software projects fail in some way or altogether.

A report by the Standish Group found that 47% of projects experience delays, cost overruns or missing critical features.

Almost half, 49%, failed because users didn't like the app or the client pulled the plug early.

So what goes wrong?

The answer often lies in the very early stages of the project - the discovery phase. This is a crucial time for idea validation, proper planning and risk mitigation.

The discovery phase sets the tone for the entire project. Yet, it is a phase that is often overlooked or not given the attention it deserves.

Table of Contents

What is the ‘Discovery Phase’?

Discovery phase benefits and importance, discovery phase deliverables, how we conduct discovery at all front: step-by-step, discovery phase checklist, on a final note.

The discovery phase is the initial step of laying the groundwork for any project. Before starting any project, it is important to do a lot of research and brainstorming. This helps clarify the project's requirements, goals, roadmap, and scope.

The main objectives of the discovery phase are:

  • To define project goals and deliverables
  • To identify key challenges, constraints and risks
  • To outline project scope and requirements
  • To plan a clear roadmap
  • To build alignment and consensus among stakeholders

Who is involved in the discovery phase?

discovery in projects

A successful discovery phase requires active involvement and collaboration among all stakeholders. Who takes part may vary from project to project, but generally, these are:

  • Client: The client is the one who initiates the project. During the discovery phase, their role is to communicate their goals, expectations and business needs. This is key to shaping the project’s direction.
  • End user: The end user, or the people who will be using the product, are at the forefront of the discovery phase. Their input is essential for understanding user needs, preferences, and pain points. By gathering user feedback early on, you can make sure the final product delivers a positive user experience . In some cases, the client and end user might be the same person.
  • Project Manager: The project manager makes sure all research, analysis, and planning are carried out. The project manager works with everyone involved to understand their needs and goals for the project. They manage expectations and set realistic goals.
  • Product Owner: The product owner collaborates with the project manager and other stakeholders to shape the product vision. With their market knowledge and business understanding, their role is to identify goals and set priorities. The product owner helps connect the client, end users, and development team, ensuring the project stays on track.
  • UX/UI Designer: UX/UI designers bring a user-centric perspective to the discovery phase. They collaborate with the rest of the team to uncover and understand user needs, pains and behaviours. UX/UI designers will conduct user research, and create personas, wireframes and/or prototypes. Their role is to make sure the product is easy to use, smooth and intuitive.
  • Software Architect: The software architect handles the system architecture of the product. They assess the current systems and technology to find limitations and opportunities. They will also find the right balance between taking on technical debt and building the product quickly. The software architect will ensure the project is scalable, easy to maintain and follows good practices.

Common misconceptions and challenges

Where do things usually go wrong? Common misconceptions and challenges can make the discovery phase less effective.

  • Rushing through it

The discovery phase is important for project success, not just a box-ticking exercise. Neglecting or rushing through it can lead to misunderstandings, delays, and costly revisions later on. Keep in mind that when software providers offer a "free quote," they often skip this phase.

  • Not involving stakeholders enough

Lack of active participation from key stakeholders can hinder the discovery phase's effectiveness. It's important for everyone involved to take part in the discovery phase. This helps gather different viewpoints and align expectations.

  • Overlooking user research and validation

If you skip research and validation, you might end up building something that doesn't resonate with your users. After all, how can you build a successful product if you don’t know who you’re building it for?

discovery in projects

Once more for the people in the back: the discovery phase isn’t a formality. It’s a critical step in product development that shouldn’t be ignored. Let’s look at the key benefits of conducting a thorough discovery phase and why it matters:

  • A clear understanding of requirements

During the discovery phase, your team gains a deep understanding of project requirements. This foundation ensures that the final product aligns with user needs and business objectives.

  • User-centric decision-making

The discovery phase puts the user at the forefront. It encourages you to get to know your users, their needs, pains and behaviour before building your product. You will conduct in-depth research, interviews, surveys and usability testing. As a result, you will collect valuable insights that will drive your decision-making.

  • More accurate estimates

The discovery phase takes the “guesswork” out of estimates. It allows estimates to go from “gut feeling” to work which is broken down into an intricate level of detail. This allows you to make well-informed decisions.

  • Better team synergy

The discovery phase encourages active involvement and engagement of all relevant stakeholders. This in turn promotes collaboration within the team. Everyone understands the project's vision, goals, and how their tasks contribute to its success.

  • Value-driven development

By conducting market and competitor research, you can understand what works better for your product. This way you can prioritise must-have features that provide the most value. This keeps the team focused on addressing key pain points first before adding nice-to-haves.

  • Empowering non-technical founders

Many non-technical founders struggle to explain their software needs to developers. The discovery phase helps non-technical founders work better with the development team. It ensures their vision is accurately translated into the final product.

Why is the discovery phase important for every project?

The side effects of skipping the discovery phase can be difficult to recover from.

  • Scope creep

Scope creep happens when project requirements and features keep growing uncontrollably. The Project Management Institute found that 52% of projects experience scope creep. This often leads to project failure. Prioritising tasks during the discovery phase can prevent scope creep from happening.

  • Increased costs

Blurred scope leads to higher incurred costs. As the project progresses, unexpected challenges can lead to the project going over budget. When developers break tasks into smaller parts, they force themselves to think about the problems they may face. This can help reduce budget overruns.

  • Missed deadlines

Neglecting the discovery phase means neglecting to uncover any roadblocks that can delay the project. This may result in missed deadlines that can jeopardise the schedule and launch date. The discovery phase helps you account for and mitigate risks by identifying constraints early.

  • Poor quality

The discovery phase lays the groundwork for building a high-quality product. If you start developing without evaluating requirements and risks, you may make bad design choices. These choices can have usability issues and functionality gaps. Fixing these later on can cost a lot of time and money.

  • Poor product-market fit

40% of startups fail because there is no demand in the market. Whether you’re building an MVP or improving an already existing product, the discovery phase is when validation takes place. Without it, you may invest a lot of time, effort and finances into a project that may need a strategic shift from day one.

discovery in projects

1. Project Scope and Roadmap

A clear project scope outlines what is included and excluded from the project. It establishes expectations and boundaries for everyone. You also get a preliminary timeline with key milestones, deliverables and estimated durations for each task.

2. User Personas and User Stories

User personas represent different types of users. They capture specific characteristics, goals, behaviours, and preferences. User stories are narratives that describe how users interact with the product and what value they get from it. Both personas and user stories can help you better understand the target audience.

3. Technical Assessment

During the discovery phase, you also get to investigate technical limits and possibilities. This may include assessing current systems, compatibility and scalability. Based on this, you can choose the most suitable tech stack for your project, off-the-shelf solutions and third-party tools.

4. Time and Cost Estimates

After the technical assessment, you will get a better picture of the resources required for development and server costs. You can better estimate the time, effort and cost required to complete the project.

5. Wireframes and Mockups

The discovery phase involves creating initial design concepts, wireframes and mockups. These provide a visual representation of the product, its functionality and user experience. In some cases, interactive prototypes can also be created for testing and fundraising.

Step 1: Idea Exploration

At All Front, we kick off discovery by talking to the client about their problem and business model. We also go through any materials the client might have such as basic sketches, diagrams or documentation. If we’re starting from scratch, we will hold workshops to understand the client’s vision.

Step 2: Market Research

Once we have a full understanding of the requirements, we will study the competition, market trends and industry standards. This will help us uncover unique opportunities and key differentiators. We will also gain a better understanding of your target audience.

Step 3: Ideation & Experimentation

During this step, we start shaping the idea into an actionable project. We will create the first design concepts using low-fidelity wireframes. These wireframes visualise the general structure, layout, features, and flow.

We will also create scenarios and use cases. We go through them with the client for feedback and improvement. As we gain a deeper understanding of what works and what doesn’t we iterate and improve the design.

Step 4: Optimising

After the client reviews and approves the final wireframes, we will create the remaining screens. Then, we polish the design by adding cosmetic touches like colour palettes, fonts, and branding.

We provide a few UI and design options for the client to choose from before implementing the final version.

Step 5: Product Roadmap

We map out the project plan, which we organise and split into actionable tasks. This will provide a clear roadmap for any development team to start working on implementing the product.

Our goal is to turn your business idea into a working digital product. We'll provide you with everything you need to start building it, even if we don't continue working together after the discovery phase.

discovery in projects

✅ Outline project goals

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Who are your target customers?
  • What is the business model?

✅ Research the market

  • What are other similar solutions on the market?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How is your product different? What is the unique value proposition?

✅ Create personas and use cases

  • Develop fictional characters that represent your users
  • Define their characteristics, goals, motivations, pains
  • Put your personas in different scenarios: How would different users respond and act in response to a given context and features?

✅ Define technical requirements

  • Collaborate with developers to choose the most suitable tech stack and integrations
  • Identify technical constraints and opportunities

✅ Estimate deadlines and budget

  • Break down the development process into smaller tasks and estimate the time needed for each
  • Consider the availability and skills of your team or external resources

✅ Develop the design concept

  • Create rough sketches or low-fidelity wireframes of your product's key screens and features
  • Use a prototyping tool or even just pen and paper to visualise user flows and interactions
  • Share these with stakeholders, gather feedback and improve the designs

Software projects without a strong foundation are more likely to face problems later down the road. By conducting a discovery phase, you can mitigate some of these risks and prevent costly mistakes.

But it doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Here at All Front, we’ve set up a straightforward and effective process for conducting a project discovery phase. We will address your business needs and help you build a user-centric product.

Got an idea brewing? We'd love to hear it. Let's chat!


David Stellini

22nd June 2023

Have a look at some other blogs

experience design

What is Experience Design, and Why It Matters

Dive into the fundamentals of experience design, why it can be so important for your business and how you can craft memorable experiences.

23rd November 2023


Top Angular Interview Questions and Answers for 2021

Get prepared for your next Frontend interview. We cover some of the most common Angular interview questions and answers for development positions.

4th January 2021


Top 4 Staff Augmentation & Outsourcing Trends in 2023

From shift in priorities to new approaches to sourcing talent, check out four of the top staff augmentation & outsourcing trends in 2023.

17th January 2023


  • AI & ML Development
  • Data Mining Services
  • Web App Development
  • Custom Software Development
  • Website Development
  • WordPress Development
  • Mobile App Development
  • Android App Development
  • iOS App Development
  • Software Testing & QA
  • UI/UX Design
  • Dedicated Development Team
  • Business Analysis
  • IT Maintenance & Support
  • DevOps Services
  • Ruby on Rails Development
  • NodeJS Development
  • ReactJS Development
  • React Native Development
  • Python Development
  • Marketplace Development
  • LMS Development
  • MVP Development
  • SaaS Development
  • CRM Development

Discovery session for the new project. Step-by-step

  • Product engineering

Today you’ll see how software development companies ensure you won’t have to wait and pay for your project more than the initial estimates and that the product will be up to your expectations. Or what they should do if they claim to be a reliable partner.

And these things really work. They help us keep the actual development cost below the tolerable 10% deviation from the estimated value.

So, we hope you’ll find this post helpful as it gives you some insights into what a discovery session is and how it affects the entire development project’s outcome. Let’s begin.

What is a discovery session?

A discovery session is a meeting between the project team and client to understand the client’s business, goals, strategy, operation process, etc. It is the act of gathering essential project information so you can gain a high-level understanding of the project. In most cases, this is done by getting the answers to specific questions.

When you start custom software development , the discovery session is the first thing to do. It usually happens right after you sign the contract.

There is some confusion around the terms “project discovery” and “product discovery.” The project discovery process is an essential part of the SDLC. It aims to identify the scope for development, avoid the need for costly changes amidst the project, and ensure the goals are met.

Product discovery occurs within the discovery of a project after the expectations are set and success criteria defined. Its purpose is to align the product with the users’ needs and reduce the risks related to viability, value, feasibility, and usability.

Project and product discovery process

How do discovery sessions help?

Holding discovery sessions brings many benefits. Among the top of them are:

  • More accurate time and cost estimates due to the well-identified scope and clear goals;
  • Better design decisions since they are based on data, not assumptions;
  • Higher return on investment since the product is better tailored to the end-user’s needs;
  • Absence of reworks that can get costly.

If you skip the software product discovery process, you risk running into the following:

  • Constant scope creep due to poorly defined success metrics;
  • Climbing costs due to reworks and changes;
  • Missed deadlines since project boundaries are not appropriately clarified;
  • The product doesn’t meet your expectations due to misunderstanding and lack of focus.

What do you do in the discovery session?

In a nutshell, a well-done software discovery process guides the development team in building a valuable product. From the discovery session at Syndicode, you should expect:

  • Exploring the subject area;
  • Examining the client’s business processes;
  • Determining the client’s expectations from the new product;
  • Bottlenecks identification;
  • Finding high-level solutions to the expected or existing problems;
  • Identifying priorities and forming a backlog;
  • Creating the project roadmap.

More often than not, the discovery process takes several meetings to cover all the questions. We follow a Double Diamond approach to make the most out of each meeting and cut the discovery phase length.

The Double Diamond model is a four-step design process model that guides challenge solving throughout the SDLC. This methodology helps us improve the creative processes and produce better communication between teams.

Double Diamond model

Who takes part in a discovery session?

For a project to succeed, we must ensure the right people are involved. From our side, the standard discovery team composition is as follows:

  • A business analyst who fosters communication between the technical and non-technical teams and helps prepare use cases and identify project requirements;
  • A developer who keeps tabs on the technologies to be used in the project and helps choose the most efficient stack;
  • UX/UI designer who is in charge of creating a user experience;
  • A project manager who ensures productive session flow and engagement between project teams.

Depending on the specific project needs, other IT specialists might be involved.

The role of the client in the discovery process is tremendous, so the team from the client’s side should know each tiny detail about their company and the project. The stakeholders should be the people who have a high-level understanding of the business, who can influence the project, and who are affected by the project’s outcome. For example, a CEO and IT lead team can provide a well-rounded description of the company’s goals and vision and discuss technical specs.

Start building a perfect solution

We have delivered over 70 software products that bring profit to their owners. Send us a message.

Discovery session questions focus

To ensure we set a suitable base for development and not annoy the client later, we aim to walk away from the software discovery process with as many details as possible. That means we have to ask many questions.

Sometimes the clients don’t realize the number of questions they will face. To make it less overwhelming, we break the session into parts dedicated to a certain topic. After having outlined the essentials, we go deeper with more specific questions.

The main task of the discovery in projects is to determine the objectives we’re working for. To do this, we should learn:

  • Current goals;
  • Desired outcome;
  • Success metrics.

Next, we should talk about the requirements, including:

  • Target audience needs;
  • Potential risks.

Additionally, this is vital to determine the project constraints:

  • Project scope;
  • Project schedule;
  • Project costs.

Example of discovery session questions

  • What is the project outcome? It can involve reducing the number of user complaints (by redesigning software), creating a centralized place for job search and hiring, etc.
  • What is the project’s timeframe? The client may have a scheduled date by which the project should be completed.
  • What is the budget for the project? This is one of the major constraints that will affect how much of your expectations can actually be implemented. First, we will gather all your requirements and prepare a ballpark estimate. Then we will decide if we should prioritize to fit the constraints.
  • Who is the project sponsor? A sponsor is a person or a group that provides executive-level support and resources for the project. The sponsor can influence the project and should be included in the stakeholders’ list.
  • Who is the project customer? A customer is a person or a group playing a key role in the project’s outcome. They will be actively involved in defining what the outcome should look like and in approving it.
  • Who is the end-user?

An end-user is the one who will actually use the product or service. They don’t know how to develop the solution or what it should do, but they provide valuable information regarding the product’s usability.

These are the very elementary examples that should be followed by more specific questions like what’s the strategy for the investment? What are the primary, secondary, and tertiary business goals? What are the key performance indicators? And so on.

Working with Syndicode, you will receive the list of questions before the discovery session so you can prepare. The list may not be exhaustive, but it will give you an idea about the meeting.

Discovery session steps

Discovery session step-by-step

Step 1. discovery planning.

Usually, the problem is outlined during the first contact with the client. We run an internal session to determine whether we have the resources to help and lay out the possible directions to work towards.

Next, Syndicode analysts will assemble a discovery team, create an agenda, and schedule the session(s). We will also decide on the tools to record sessions, make notes, and store results.

In most cases, the following tools work well for us:

  • Jira for task storing and management;
  • Quick Time Player for the discovery meeting recording;
  • app for charts and diagrams;
  • Figma for prototyping.

If communication doesn’t happen face-to-face, we will also ensure that the chosen method is suitable for all participants.

Step 2. Investigation

Time is tight, so we make sure everyone is on their A-game. Our business analysts try to get as much data as possible before the first session and keep the list of questions to a minimum.

Our team starts with exploring the client’s product. They go page to page, evaluating the feel the web product or a mobile app makes, the ease of navigation, how many actions the user has to make before they can complete their goal, etc.

Next, we perform competitor research to see any good or bad about their products or services to take into account in our project. Depending on the problem we’re trying to solve, we may request data from the client’s tools. For example, if your request is to improve your website’s usability, we might ask for reports from Google Analytics, HotJar, etc.

If any documentation is available, we go through it, identifying gaps that we will later address in a session.

Step 3. Interviews

  • What is our problem?

It’s important to start with this question or remind ourselves about the answer. This exercise aims to identify the project goals and outline the scope clearly. Then we can proceed to opportunities search, finding current gaps, and identifying possible solutions.

  • What are we trying to make?

Once the problem is defined, the project teams work to align their vision with the target user needs and business goals and validate product features. We determine how the entire system works in context, break the central concept into smaller parts, and look for links between entities.

  • Can we make it more efficient?

Now that we know what we’re going to build, we can optimize our efforts. The Syndicode engineers work with the client to determine how the work is currently being done. Then we can define how to reach our goal faster and cheaper.

With Syndicode, you can cover those questions in a conversation. Alternatively, we can send you online forms to fill in, so you don’t have to get distracted from your work. This variant works best for existing projects where the basic information is available through documentation and people responsible for specific matters are known.

Stop losing money on development

Syndicode will help to ensure your product’s viability and profitability. Schedule a discovery session now.

Step 4. Working with results

At the end of the session, it’s time to reflect as a group and go through everything we’ve made throughout the session. Working with Syndicode, you will have the following deliverables:

  • Problem statement

Ensures clarity and helps identify existing opportunities while leaving out current solution bias.

  • Product vision board

Helps to visualize and validate the product vision and strategy.

  • Conceptual model

A schematical representation of the system under development.

  • Context diagram

Shows interactions between the system and external factors.

  • Value stream map

A diagram portraying the system’s current state. It helps identify waste and improve the steps required to develop the product.

  •  Business objectives model

An illustration of the value the product will bring to the customer.

A plan that helps the project teams align their activities with business objectives.

  • Use case diagram

A representation of the interactions between the system and its actors.

  • Entity Relationship diagram

Illustrates how people, concepts, or objects relate to each other within the system.

  • CRUD matrix

A table that shows activities and permissions within the system.

  • Functional decomposition

Helps to break the project into tasks.

With all the documents, the client can see how the product works even with nothing developed yet. After we receive approval, our engineers can proceed to enhance your product with new features or MVP development if we’re working from scratch.

A discovery session takes time and effort. But if made right, it helps build the foundation for fruitful cooperation between the client and the development company. Moreover, by going through the software discovery process first, you minimize risks and increase the chances of getting the product done as you expected by the time you expected.

Frequently Asked Questions

​​what is a discovery meeting.

A discovery meeting is a discussion between a service provider’s team and a client regarding the service and its benefits for the client. In the process of the discovery session, it becomes clear whether the service provider can help solve the client’s problem and outline possible solutions. For the service provider, the main goal of the meeting is to learn as much as possible about the client’s business, its processes, and what kind of value they seek. This is done by asking general and technical discovery questions and documenting answers. Often, the discovery process takes more than one meeting. In this case, the term “discovery session” is more relevant.

What is the benefit of a discovery session for an entrepreneur?

As a stand-alone service, a discovery session reassures the client that the software development company or other agency is willing to find the best solution for their problem and not just win the pitch work. In the process of a discovery meeting, you will get consultancy on the issue, assess the agency’s expertise, uncover their genuine motivation to work with you, learn their approach to service delivery, receive a ballpark estimate for your project, and determine the growth opportunities. Moreover, you will refine your vision by going through the product discovery questions. Subsequently, you will be able to avoid investing in unnecessary features and mitigate risks.

How long does a discovery session take in software development?

A discovery session can be as short as a couple of hours or as long as a couple of weeks. Longer sessions are necessary for in-depth conversations about complex issues, such as rebuilding a software product or pivoting in the middle of the development process. The discovery process length also depends on the agency’s experience. A mature development company knows how to run a discovery session to get the most out of a limited time. The client’s schedule predominantly affects the overall discovery session length. The role of business in the discovery is tremendous, so if you only have a couple of hours per week to devote to your technical partner, the process will last longer. Moreover, in Agile, the discovery phase tends to be shorter. But you will have to be available for additional questions throughout the development process due to the iterative and inclusive nature of the methodology.

How much does the discovery phase cost?

The cost of a discovery session depends on several factors. First is the complexity of the system you’re planning to build. The more entities and connections between them, the more designers work, and the more time they need to visualize your idea for approval. Next, you should check how your technology partner chooses to conduct a discovery session. Some approaches may take longer than others which affects the cost. Finally, the amount of technical research largely affects the discovery session cost. For an innovative idea, a solution architect must research various IT technologies and programming languages, compile a set of tools, etc. All that adds to the number of hours worked and hence the cost. You can try and save costs by outsourcing from companies in off-shore countries. At Syndicode, a stand-alone discovery service goes as a part of business analysis. The average price tag usually falls between $8,000–13,000.

How to prepare for a discovery meeting?

Preparing will streamline the discovery process and make it faster and more fruitful. If the agency sent you a list of questions beforehand, go through them and try to outline the answers. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers; you will work on that together. A major help for your technology partner will be the information about your past efforts in solving the problem. So, refresh your memory and make some notes on the current status, what you like and don’t like about it, stats on results from previous efforts, present or most significant impact the problem had on your business. A good agency will ask some broad questions about your business to build a winning strategy. So, think about your current business goals, what you do well, where you struggle, and who is your biggest competition.

Discovery Phase of a Software Development Project: What It Is and Why You Need It

Sveta Cherednichenko

Before you lay the foundation and start construction on a house, you need to have a detailed plan. This principle also applies to developing a mobile application — or developing any software, for that matter. In this article, I’ll talk about how we plan mobile app projects at Mobindustry and how to manage a discovery phase.

Main stages of mobile app development

Mobile app development is a complex process. First, mobile development becomes more complicated with time because of factors like new technologies, technological debt, the need for refactoring, changes in business goals, and mobile development trends. Second, user expectations grow as a mobile project develops.

These are the main stages of mobile app development:

1. Discovery phase 2. Architecture and backend setup 3. Mobile app development 4. Quality assurance 5. Deployment 6. Release to the app stores 7. Maintenance and support

All subsequent stages depend on the first stage, however. During the project discovery phase, the development team and the client create a thorough plan that defines how the project will proceed.

What is a discovery phase in software development?

A discovery phase is a research and planning process before the project begins, during which all stakeholders in the development process determine the main goals of the project, the scope of work, deadlines, and user experience expectations. They then make a step-by-step development plan including technologies that will be used.

Building a mobile app without a discovery stage is as risky as building a house without an architectural plan Yulia Kutsokon, project manager at Mobindustry

Most outsourcing companies will insist on a discovery phase before starting a project. This is only natural, as a discovery phase increases the chances of a project’s success.

The main goal of the discovery phase is to make a project fully correspond to the client’s business goals in terms of:

  • User experience
  • Time to market

These three aspects require the most planning, as according to McKinsey , 45% of all software development projects fail to be delivered on time and on budget. However, there’s a third factor that’s vital for your software’s success: the user experience. It’s harder than it seems to develop a good user experience, and it requires planning more than anything.

Why a Discovery phase is crucial for your project

To answer the question “Why is the product development discovery phase so important?”, let’s try to imagine what a development process could look like without it.

Say, you need to develop a mobile app for your business, and you come to a software development vendor with a request. They interview you, extract the main requirements and start the development right off the bat. For each problem in programming and product development, there are hundreds of solutions, so your team has two options: either ask you about every single step or do as they see fit.

The first option will lead to chaotic, excessive, and plain ineffective communication. The second option will get you a product you’ll probably hate, as developers have no idea what exactly you expect.

A discovery phase of a project allows you to get exactly what you want and what your business needs, and gives a team a clear plan that answers most of their questions.

Let’s now talk about what a discovery phase of a project actually provides you with.

Benefits of a Discovery phase

Control risks.

It’s hard to imagine what a software development project would be like without a plan: so many things could go wrong, and according to Murphy’s law if they can, they will. To control risks — both business and technical — you need a plan.

What risks can a product development discovery phase prevent or at least reduce?

1. Your product doesn’t have a market. 2. Users don’t find your product useful. 3. You significantly exceed both your budget and delivery deadline. 4. You choose the wrong company to work with. 5. The technologies your developers choose are incompatible. 6. Your project’s architecture isn’t scalable. 7. It takes too much time and money to support and maintain your project because it uses the wrong technologies. 8. Communication problems lead to project failure.

A discovery phase allows you to consider all of these potential risks at the outset so you don’t have to completely redo everything you’ve already developed.

Manage expectations

During the discovery phase, you’ll be asked to approve each detail of the project plan. This means you’ll know exactly what you’ll get in the end, at what cost, and when. A discovery phase eliminates surprises. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t change anything. Every business changes, as does the market situation, so your team should always be ready to make changes to the plan upon your request.

Improve communication

During the discovery phase, you’ll work on a plan that’s clear to all members of your team, no matter their roles. Developers, quality assurance specialists, stakeholders, and project managers will all be able to look at the project plan and see exactly what they should do.

Main stages of the discovery phase

The discovery phase is usually handled by a business analyst, a UI/UX designer, a technical architect, and a project manager. The following are the main steps they need to take during the discovery phase.

discovery phase in software development

Note that each step of the discovery phase requires your involvement; we’ll discuss every step and get your approval during scheduled meetings. Now let’s look at the discovery phase steps.

1. First contact

At Mobindustry, the initial phase of a project usually starts even before we sign a contract. When a potential client approaches us with a project idea, we give them a rough estimate. If this estimate is within the client’s budget, we schedule a call with a business analyst and start to decide on must-have features. This allows our business analyst to create a detailed estimate for the project. After the client agrees on it, it’s time to sign a discovery phase contract.

During the first contact, a you’ll share your project vision with us, and we’ll be able to provide you with a rough estimate

To sum up, prior to the discovery phase, you will:

  • Discuss the project vision with the business analyst during consulting sessions
  • Receive a preliminary estimate
  • Speak with a business analyst
  • Approve the detailed estimate

2. Defining business goals

The main goal of this step is to make sure the product provides what your business needs to grow. Business goals will dictate the project’s whole feature set.

To clearly define your business goals, a business analyst will need to interview you and your project’s other major stakeholders. You should be ready to set up one to three meetings per week during the discovery phase for this purpose.

A business analyst will ask you questions like these:

  • What problems will this software solve?
  • What are the must-have features?
  • What platforms do you want to support? (mobile, tablet, desktop)
  • What similar products already exist, and what will differentiate your product from them?

Note that if you aren’t sure how to answer some of these questions, a business analyst will be able to help you. Our business analysts have expertise in software development and know both the technical and business standards across different markets.

3. Defining the target audience

The most popular and effective approach to software development is a user-first approach. This is why it’s crucial to define who will be using your product and how. Defining a target audience requires a deep understanding of your business, especially if you plan to acquire a new audience with the help of your product.

Defining your future users consists of both theory and practice: first, you need to find the common traits of your target audience, then gather feedback.

For this, businesses often use demo products, focus groups, surveys, and A/B testing. At the initial stages of a project, businesses usually try to create user personas, which describe prototypical members of the target audience who have particular issues and ways they currently solve these issues.

Defining your product’s users will help not only with designing the user journey and the user experience but also with marketing your product.

4. Analyzing competitors

Competitor analysis is an important part of any planning, be it discovery phase of website development , or mobile discovery phase. Learning about competitors helps businesses get a better understanding of market standards and market specifics in addition to showing them what they can do better.

discovery phase plan

Competitor analysis can help you understand what niches you can fill and which needs you can meet.

5. Identifying the feature set

After you’ve figured out your project’s goals, your target audience, and the current situation on the market, you can start to identify what features you’ll need to provide service to your users.

discovery phase project plan

There are three main factors that influence a product’s feature set:

  • Your product’s goal and all steps of the user journey that lead to its fulfillment
  • Industry standards
  • Your budget

A business analyst will be able to help you choose the most important features for a minimum viable product (MVP) that you can test on the market. After releasing your MVP, you can change your feature list slightly according to the response of your target audience. However, at the start of a project it’s good to learn what potential features you can add later.

6. Collect project requirements

At this point, the project is starting to take shape. A business analyst will now draw up a specification document that defines all the technical, functional, and usability requirements of your product.

To collect project requirements , a business analyst will often work with a technical architect who will be able to pick the most suitable technologies for your project to make sure it’s maintainable, scalable, and has the required performance.

During this step, both business and technical specialists will determine the technical risks that can influence your project’s scope and delivery time.

7. Create wireframes

A wireframe is a blueprint of your app that shows the transitions between screens and the app’s basic business logic. Wireframes are a big part of user experience design, as they show the user journey while taking into account patterns of user behavior.

agile discovery phase

Note that wireframes don’t include specific designs; they just indicate where the main elements of the app are and where they lead in the user story. As with all other steps of the project, you must approve the wireframes, which will then form the basis for the final design.

8. Create a design concept

Good design is no longer a selling point for software: it’s just a basic requirement that you need to meet if you want to get users. It’s a good idea to find a designer who has experience creating designs for your particular type of product, as this will ensure the designer knows the industry standards and is able to create a beautiful and functional design that offers something unique.

product development discovery phase

A product’s design also includes animations and dynamic elements. Depending on their complexity, designs can take from 10% to 30% of your overall project budget.

9. Document the final project specification

The project specification is the main document for your project and is the primary deliverable for the discovery phase in software development. A project specification includes all information about your project, the development process, the people responsible for each stage of development, and all stakeholders as well as a detailed description of each product feature.

A technical specification also includes all technologies that will be used in the project along with a detailed estimate of each feature and stage, including potential risks.

Discovery phase in app development: specifics and a success story

We at Mobidnustry perform a discovery phase for all projects we create because this way we can guarantee our client gets exactly what their business needs and what their customers and stakeholders expect.

Here’s one of the most recent examples of a discovery phase we went through with our client to create a food delivery app. You can learn more about it in our case study below, where we described:

  • the project background
  • solutions and results
  • tools and technologies

A Discovery Phase for a Food Delivery App

How to start a product discovery

In order to start the discovery phase of a product, you need to get a team that will turn your business requirements into a detailed plan. Usually, the first step is to find a vendor, but there’s actually something you can do before the kick-off.

You need to give your team direction and a purpose, so it’s good to answer these questions yourself before you start communicating with a business analyst, and other specialists.

  • What is my core business need that I want to fulfill with software?
  • What are my business goals?
  • What do I expect to gain after the product launch?
  • What metrics will I use to measure its success?
  • Do I have competitors that have already launched a similar product? What parts of their product could be attributed to their success?

All these answers will help you give your team insights and a better feel of what your business needs. If you don’t have answers to some of these questions, don’t worry. Your discovery phase team will perform a number of studies and research the market to help you find a place for your product in it.

How long does the discovery phase take?

The discovery stage involves the work of and communication between many different specialists. To determine business goals and conduct user, market, and competitor research, a business analyst needs to spend time communicating with stakeholders .

When it comes to developing a technical specification, wireframes, and design, other specialists like designers, technical architects, and project managers are involved.

Usually, a discovery phase takes from one and a half to two weeks. For extra large projects it can take up to two months

The discovery phase for a relatively small project can take approximately one and a half to two weeks . A larger project will require around two months of work for a business analyst, designer, and project manager.

The biggest product discovery phase we completed at Mobindustry took around 4 months of work. During that time, we created detailed documentation, wireframes, and design concepts for a large ecommerce solution . We also divided the whole project into modules and development steps to make project management easier for our client.

Project discovery phase deliverables

At the end of the discovery phase, you’ll get several deliverables that make up your project plan, including technical specifications, a feature set, a UI/UX design, and wireframes.

Here’s everything you’ll have after the discovery phase to get your project going:

Technical requirements specification — Describes your project, business objectives, all functionality, features, and suggested technologies and architecture.

UI/UX concept — Shows the business logic and overall feel of your project. The UI/UX concept demonstrates how your goals will be achieved during interactions with a user. The UX discovery process is tightly connected to user personas and project goals.

Development plan and detailed estimates — Shows how the project will be developed step by step and sets deadlines and a budget. Estimates are made by a project manager and development team lead.

Market and competitor research and SWAT analysis — This gives you an idea of the current market state, competitor landscape, and your business’s strong and weak points you can use to get an upper hand in the competition.

Project Mind map — Describes your project and gives you a more deep understanding of your positioning on the market against your competitors.

Wireframes — Show the business logic of your product, its structure from the user standpoint, user journey and transition between screens.

Design concept and style guides — Visualize your business and create a unique brand aesthetics across your channels, from physical to digital assets.

Software prototype — If you’d like to test your idea with a focus group or have something to show to your investors, we can create a clickable prototype that will show the main functionality and feel of your future product.

Product development roadmap — A detailed delivery plan for your product that ensures you get your software on time and within budget.

Get an example of the Discovery Phase documentation for your digital project

How much does a discovery phase cost.

The cost of a discovery phase depends on the size of a project: the bigger the project, the more requirements it has, and it will take a longer time for a business analyst to turn them into a technical specification. Larger projects with lots of variables will also require more communication with all kinds of specialists that I’ll mention in the next section.

The cost of your discovery phase will depend on your team’s hourly rates as well, as the number of specialists involved in it. If you’d like to get a quote from us, don’t hesitate to ask: we’ll provide you with a detailed estimate on a discovery phase once we learn a bit more about your project.

Discovery phase team

Let’s talk about the team that works on your project during the discovery phase. There are several experts who take part in this process.

Business analysts

A business analyst is a specialist who develops use cases and user stories in cooperation with a client. They create a technical specification, gather requirements, define the main objectives of a project and show how users will use the software.

Stakeholders and domain experts

Stakeholders which include business owners and top executives are the ones that will provide information about their business goals and requirements to business analysts and other team members. They share industry insights and their unique business processes that should be reflected in software in order to seamlessly integrate with them.

Lead developers, architects, and CTOs

Senior developers, tech leads, architects, and other technical experts review the project requirements and select the best technology stack for future software that includes frameworks, databases, programming languages, third-party integrations, and more. They also develop the architecture of your project and determine its business logic.

Lead UI/UX designers and product design experts

Lead designers create a user experience and user interface according to the project goals. Some discovery teams have separate specialists for user experience and user interface. They create the product aesthetic, graphic elements, wireframes, and prototypes, and work on intuitive user experience.

Lead UX designers research the target audience of the future digital product and use various tools and methods like user personas to create the best user journeys for them.

Project managers

A project manager organizes communication between a client and all other team members, makes records, and helps to calculate risks and predict the time for communication and other management activities during the development process. Also, a project manager can create a project roadmap so that everyone is on the same page.

Final thoughts

The discovery phase is the most important phase of a project, as it fully determines how the project will function, what it will look like, and how it will help your business achieve its goals. The discovery process involves the work of specialists such as business analysts, project managers, technical architects, and designers. However, not a single step of the discovery process is possible without your participation as the client.

A discovery phase of a software project helps you find common ground with an offshore team and make sure you’ll get exactly what you need within your budget and timeline. At the end of the discovery phase, you’ll have a clear and thorough plan for your project, from its features and technologies to design and business goals.

If you’re interested in discovery phase deliverables and your product development planning, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help you with both the software development discovery phase and development itself.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a discovery phase take, what will i get after the discovery phase.

Here's the list of all deliverables you'll get:

Technical requirements specification — Describes your project, business objectives, all functionality, features, and suggested technologies and architecture.

UI/UX concept — Shows the business logic and overall feel of your project. The UI/UX concept demonstrates how your goals will be achieved during interactions with a user. The UX discovery process is tightly connected to user personas and project goals.

Development plan and detailed estimates — Shows how the project will be developed step by step and sets deadlines and a budget. Estimates are made by a project manager and development team lead.

Rate the article!

Related articles, share your project with us, what happens next:.

Our website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By browsing the website you consent to our Privacy and Cookies Policy

Privacy Overview

Skip navigation

  • Log in to UX Certification

Nielsen Norman Group logo

World Leaders in Research-Based User Experience

The discovery phase in ux projects.

Portrait of Maria Rosala

March 15, 2020 2020-03-15

  • Email article
  • Share on LinkedIn
  • Share on Twitter

In This Article:

Introduction, when is a discovery needed, common activities in discoveries, people involved, the outcome of a discovery.

Discovery: A preliminary phase in the UX-design process that involves researching the problem space, framing the problem(s) to be solved, and gathering enough evidence and initial direction on what to do next. Discoveries do not involve testing hypotheses or solutions.

Discoveries are crucial to setting design projects off in the right direction by focusing on the right problems and, consequently, building the right thing. They are often referred to as ‘product discoveries’ (although I’m not keen on this name because it can set the expectation that this phase is about discovering requirements for a given product).

In order to be effective, a discovery should be broad and technology- or solution-agnostic. When teams carry out a discovery on a product they have already decided to build, it no longer is a discovery, but, instead, it becomes a requirements-gathering exercise or a validation exercise where teams seek to confirm that their solution is the best. The discovery is off track when teams are asked “How do we make [insert name of solution] work for users?” or told to “Go find out what the user needs are for [insert name of solution] ”.

A discovery should start with a broad objective such as like: “Go find out about this problem, just how big it is, and what the opportunities might be.”

Well-done discoveries ensure that any solutions proposed later are desirable to users, viable for the organization, and feasible with the technology made available.

A discovery should result in the following:

  • Understanding of users: Through user research, the project team achieves an understanding of who the users are and how they are affected by a particular problem, as well as what they need, desire, and value from a solution (and why).
  • Understanding of the problems to be solved and of the opportunities: Through investigative work, the team understands how and why the problem(s) occur, what effect the problem has on users, as well as on the organization. It understands the magnitude of the problem and opportunities for the organization, product, or service.
  • Shared vision: During discovery, the team works with stakeholders to understand overarching business objectives and desired outcomes and get answers to questions such as ‘what do we want to achieve?’, or ‘what does success look like?’. This approach, in turn, focuses the team on the problems (and later the solutions) that will have the greatest impact on that outcome. The team should also have an idea of what to measure going forward, to understand whether the solution is working towards the desired outcome.

A discovery starts broad and requires team members to investigate the context of the problem. The double-diamond diagram introduced by the UK Design Council — and reproduced below — illustrates the high-level process of a discovery: first, the team expands its understanding of the problem by researching its full context; armed with this knowledge, the team agrees on what the problem is, before moving to the next phase of ideating and testing in the Develop stage.

The image shows the Double Diamond model adapted from the UK design council which breaks down the design process into 4 steps: Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver. Arrows show that lines of inquiry diverge in the discover step, and converge in the define stage.

A discovery is needed anytime when there are many unknowns that stop a team from moving forward. Moving forward only on assumptions can be risky, as the team may end up solving a problem that doesn’t really matter — wasting time, money, and effort.

A discovery might also be needed when the team is not aligned in what it wants to achieve .

Discoveries are often carried out differently depending on the type of problem the team needs to investigate. Below are some examples of instigators:

  • New-market opportunities . If an organization is looking to explore where to expand its product or service offerings, a discovery is often needed. The discovery might involve researching a new audience, performing competitive reviews, and investigating whether the size of the opportunity warrants entering the market.
  • Acquisitions or mergers. When organizations merge, it’s likely that systems, processes, and tools will also need to be consolidated. A discovery could focus on common problems faced by each organization, in order to find a common solution.
  • New policy or regulation . This instigator is especially relevant for government organizations or organizations that operate in an environment affected by regularly changing regulation. Such a discovery would involve studying the populations affected by the change, reviewing the regulation to understand it, and assessing how business operations must change to support the new regulation.
  • New organization strategy. This driver of change comes internally from the organization (unlike new regulation, which often originates externally). For example, during my time in the UK Government, one government-wide strategy was to become ‘digital by default’, which meant moving away from expensive, paper-based processes to efficient (digital) ones. Discoveries in numerous government departments focused on understanding the needs of their users, as well as the extent of paper-based processing, in order to ensure that a shift to digital was, in fact, efficient and user-centered. Another common strategy is to provide common platforms for those areas of an organization that do essentially the same thing, in order to help the organization become more consistent in what it does, and efficient. Discoveries in these situations would focus on identifying common needs and backstage processes across multiple products and services in order to potentially consolidate them.
  • Chronic organizational problems. Perhaps sales have been low this year, or satisfaction has been low for several quarters. Often organizations find themselves simply focusing on symptoms (e.g., adding webchat), rather than on causes. A discovery involves inward- as well as outward-facing research to understand why these problems occur and examination into causes to identify the greatest opportunities for improvement.

There are many different types of activities that could be carried out in a discovery. I won’t cover them all, but here are a few that are performed in most discovery phases.

Exploratory Research

Research helps us learn new things about a domain. This type of research is known as generative or exploratory because it generates new, open-ended insights. By carrying out this research, we learn about the problem space (or the opportunity space). A discovery phase does not involve testing a hypothesis or evaluating a potential solution.

At the beginning of a discovery, the research topic might be extremely broad, whereas later it narrows in on those aspects of the problem space that have the most unknowns or present the greatest opportunities.

Common exploratory-research methods include user interviews , diary studies , and field studies with a representative group of users. Surveys can also be used to gather data from a larger group of users; the data can be triangulated with qualitative insights from other methods. Finally, focus groups can sometimes be used in a discovery (although with this method, the findings are frequently contaminated by groupthink).

Stakeholder Interviews

Stakeholders often hold unique knowledge, insight, and data about internal, backstage processes and about the users who interact with them. Interviewing stakeholders provides an additional layer of insight that helps the team understand the scale of the problem and also the viability of later solutions.

Interviewing key people in the organization can provide you with an understanding of:

  • Key business objectives of the organization, individuals, or teams (These are helpful to determine if and how these broader goals tie-in to the goals of the project.)
  • Data and insights about how problems affecting users impact backstage work (such as inquiry type and volume, additional processing)
  • Solutions they’ve tried before that have or haven’t worked, how they implemented them, what other problems they caused, as well as why they were removed (if applicable)

In addition to interviewing stakeholders, including key stakeholders in the discovery process or having them weigh in throughout not only facilitates further buy-in, it also provides more insights.

Workshops align team members and stakeholders and are a useful tactic for discovery. Some workshops commonly used in discoveries include:

Kickoff workshops, A kickoff workshop occurs at the beginning of the discovery and aims to create alignment on the objective of the discovery, and when it will be complete. It is normally attended by the client or key stakeholders who are invested in the discovery, as well as by the discovery team itself. It can also include agreement on the roles and responsibilities of each team member during the discovery.

Assumption-mapping workshops. Many teams bring in experts and do data gathering activities in a workshop. They question the validity of certain ‘facts’ and identify the deep-rooted assumptions that need further exploration. Part of this workshop can also include prioritizing assumptions in terms of risk to the outcome of the project. The riskiest assumptions should be prioritized in terms of research activities.

Research-question­–generation workshops. This workshop is similar to the assumption-mapping workshop, and the two are often combined; the team discusses what the unknowns are and drafts research questions. The research questions can be prioritized in terms of their importance and how well they will work to gather the knowledge needed to move forward.

Affinity-diagramming workshops. After performing exploratory user research — such as user interviews, contextual inquiry, and diary studies — insights and observations are transferred to sticky notes and the team works to affinity-diagram them to uncover themes around problems, causes, symptoms, and needs.

Service-blueprinting workshops. Using a large map of the overarching service, the team plots insights from user research and business analysis in one place. They use the map to identify gaps that need further research and major opportunities.

Problem-framing workshops. The team defines the problem as a simple statement that will focus the team going forward. It may also compose ideation statements like How-Might-We’s based on that problem statement.

Discoveries are best performed with multidisciplinary teams, where team members are dedicated full-time to the project and are collocated. Depending on the scale of the problem and the discovery activities, the number of people involved and the type of roles they play may vary.

Key roles include:

Someone who can do research : A UX researcher or UX designer needs to plan and carry out user research.

Someone who can facilitate or lead the team : Although self-organizing teams are always best, sometimes team members are new to discovery and may need some direction, or perhaps the team is large and needs some managing. There are many titles that could fill this role, including product manager, project manager, delivery manager, service designer, UX strategist. This role often involves facilitating workshops , ensuring that the team communicates well, and maintaining alignment throughout the discovery process.

A sponsor or owner: Someone from the organization needs to own the project. This person often has a lot of domain and subject-matter expertise, as well as knowledge about who needs to be consulted. The owner should be influential enough to get the discovery team access to other people, teams, or data.

Someone technical: A developer or a technical architect who understands enough technical detail to be able to speak to engineers is needed in order to explore available technologies, their capabilities, and constraints.

In addition to these roles, there could be many others, including business analysts who research business processes, visual designers who explore branding, or interaction designers who work on developing appropriate design principles. It’s best if the team agrees to specific roles and responsibilities at the beginning of the discovery phase.

At the end of the discovery, the team has a detailed understanding of the problem and what outcomes to aim for, as well as where to focus its efforts. They may also have some high-level ideas for solutions that they can take forward and test. In some cases, the end of a discovery might be a decision not to move forward with the project because, for example, there isn’t a user need.

Discovery isn’t about producing outputs for their own sake. However, the following might be produced to help the team organize learnings about the problem space and users:

● A finalized problem statement: a description of the problem backed up with evidence that details how big it is and why it’s important

● A service blueprint

● User-journey maps

● User-needs statements

● High-level concepts or wireframes (for exploring in the next phase)

A discovery is a preliminary phase of a design project. It can be initiated by many different kinds of problems, involve different size teams, and many research or workshop activities. However, all discoveries strive to gain insight into a problem space and achieve consensus on desired outcomes.

UK Design Council’s Double Diamond Model: What is the framework for innovation? Design Council's evolved Double Diamond .

Related Courses

Discovery: building the right thing.

Learn how to conduct successful discovery phases in your UX design process, to ensure you build the best thing possible.

Personas: Turn User Data Into User-Centered Design

Successfully turn user data into user interfaces. Learn how to create, maintain and utilize personas throughout the UX design process.

Assessing UX Designs Using Proven Principles

Generate insights, product scorecards and competitive analyses, even when you don’t have access to user data

Related Topics

  • Design Process Design Process
  • Research Methods

Learn More:

Please accept marketing cookies to view the embedded video.

Are You Doing Real Discoveries?

discovery in projects

UX Prototyping: 5 Factors for Selecting the Right Tool

Megan Brown · 3 min

discovery in projects

Data vs. Findings vs. Insights

Sara Ramaswamy · 3 min

discovery in projects

Discovery Kick Off Workshops

Maria Rosala · 4 min

Related Articles:

Design Thinking: Study Guide

Kate Moran · 3 min

User-Centered Intranet Redesign: Set Up for Success in 11 Steps

Kara Pernice · 10 min

User Need Statements: The ‘Define’ Stage in Design Thinking

Sarah Gibbons · 9 min

Benchmarking UX: Tracking Metrics

What a UX Career Looks Like Today

Rachel Krause and Maria Rosala · 5 min

DesignOps FAQ: 6 Common Questions About Design Operations

Kate Kaplan · 6 min

  • Become a Project Manager
  • Certification

Project Discovery: The Fastest Way to Understand Your New Project

Project Discovery - The act of gathering key project information so you can gain a high-level understanding of your project quickly.

The moment you've been waiting for has finally arrived. Your manager has selected you to lead a project.

You're excited and nervous at the same time. This is a big step for you. Completing this project successfully will get your career on the fast-track to success.

So you ask yourself, "How can I get my project off to a strong start?"

The answer is with Project Discovery .

What is Project Discovery?

Project Discovery

Project Discovery is the act of gathering key project information so you can gain a high-level understanding of your project.

The idea of Project Discovery comes from the legal profession.

During pre-trial procedures, the parties to a lawsuit exchange information with each other about the witnesses and evidence they will present during the trial.

This is done with a well-defined legal process called Discovery . Discovery provides lawyers with a process to learn about the key aspects of their case before the trial starts.

Similarly, Project Discovery provides you with a systematic approach to learn about the key aspects of your project before it starts. In fact, you should start Project Discovery at the same time that your manager assigns the project to you.

Understanding the key aspects of your project as quickly as possible is important for several reasons...

  • First, the sooner you understand your project, the sooner you can start the Project Initiation phase. Time is usually a critical factor for a project, so you don't want to waste any of it.
  • Second, you are showing a sense of urgency by acting quickly. This will help you build momentum for your project and it sets the tone for the way you will manage your project.
  • Third, showing that you are able to quickly understand your project will instill confidence with your management. They will feel they made a good decision in selecting you to lead this project.

The 6 Project Discovery Questions

Project Manager's Resource

Project Management Simplified

discovery in projects

There are 6 Project Discovery Questions you need to focus on...

  • What is the desired outcome of your project?
  • What timeframe does your project need to be completed in?
  • What is the budget for your project?
  • Who is the Project Sponsor?
  • Who is the Project Customer?
  • Who are the end-users of your project's outcome?

The Project Discovery Process

There are 2 steps in the Project Discovery process.

Step 1: Discuss these questions with the person assigning you the project, usually your manager.

You should do this at the same time that your manager is assigning you as the Project Manager. Ideally, they can provide you with these answers at the same time that you are receiving your assignment. But don't be surprised if they can't or if their answers are vague, because in many cases your manager may not have a clear picture of the project.

Project ARtifact

Any document related to the project

Examples of key Project Artifacts...

- Business Case

- Contracts

- Statements of Work

Step 2: Review the key project artifacts.

You can usually close any gaps in the answers provided by your manager by reviewing the key project artifacts. Ideally, your manager can provide these artifacts to you, but you may have to get them from other people. You will build a good understanding of your project and its context by reviewing these documents thoroughly.

Remember, you aren't looking for final answers. You just need enough information to build a basic understanding of your project and to know who the key players are. You will formally define the project during the Project Initiation phase.

Project Discovery provides you with a systematic approach for getting a high-level understanding of your project. And by completing this quickly, you will show your manager that you are ready to lead your project .

Related Articles About Project Discovery

6 Project Discovery Questions for a Great First Impression

Learn how the 6 Project Discovery Questions will help you make a great first impression from the moment your manager assigns you to lead your project.

Do You Want More Project Management Tips?

discovery in projects

Subscribe to Project Success Tips , my FREE Project Management Newsletter where I share tips and techniques that you can use to get your Project Management Career off to a great start .

As a BONUS for signing up, you'll receive access to my Subscribers Only Download Page !  This is where you can download my " Become A Project Manager Checklist " and other project management templates.

Don't wait...

  • PM Techniques
  • Project Discovery

New! Comments

Home      Privacy Policy      About      Contact

Copyright © 2010-2021 | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


  • Custom software development
  • Backend development
  • Web application development
  • Mobile application development
  • MVP development
  • Application Modernization
  • Software Project Rescue
  • Performance Analysis
  • Maintenance and Support
  • Telecom systems integration
  • Marketing & Ad
  • Agriculture
  • Shopify store
  • Live streaming
  • Real-time communication
  • Case Studies

Discovery Phase In Software Development: Why Start Your Project With It

  • Discovery Phase In Software Development:…

Discovery Phase

Table of Contents

Introduction, what is a discovery phase, unvalidated ideas, conflicting vision, complex or long-term project, high-risk project, are there projects that don’t need a discovery phase, extended discovery, technical discovery, project discovery phase deliverables, building trust.

  • Reducing Risks 

Having a Roadmap

Who is involved in the discovery phase, stakeholder identification and communication, documentation & market research, collecting system requirements, defining project architecture & tech stack, budget and time estimation.

  • User Stories

Request-Response Model

Non-functional requirements diagram, design concept.

  • Needs Discrepancy 

Bloated Budget

Missed deadlines, product development discovery phase checklist, project discovery phase duration and price.

Most software development projects should go through the discovery phase one way or another. It allows you to comprehensively cover the entire project, answer some questions in advance, and identify possible pitfalls. In other words, it helps avoid unnecessary frustrations with the final product. 

But what exactly does it entail? How do you know you need it? This article will dispel all your questions about the software development discovery phase.

What It Is and Why You Need It

The project discovery phase is the process describing and writing documentation on what should be done during project development , how it will be done, and for what purpose. This documentation does not contain programming code, but collects all information about the project, its target market, and its audience.

In a more poetic sense, the discovery phase can be compared to planning for a long journey. It’s always better to build a roadmap marking all the places you want to visit, especially on a limited budget. Sure, you can stumble upon an unexpected beautiful place during your trip, but you are just as likely to run into danger. That’s why preliminary research and consultations are highly important.

When Do You Need a Discovery Phase?

Short answer: always. Long answer: always, but some cases require special attention.

You will often see the discovery phase listed as part of the development cycle. This is only half-true. It’s the first step to it, but it’s also a completely separate process. You can even do discovery with one company and product development with another (though, it’s preferable to do everything with one team).

“But do I really need a discovery phase?” is what you’re probably thinking. If you’re a startup, yes. Startups have a 90% failure rate, with 42% of failures being the results of misreading market demand. Discovery phase helps you avoid exactly that, as well as iron out some inconsistencies you may have otherwise.

Here’s how you know you need a discovery phase.

A lot of startups dive headfirst into projects that they assume will be successful, only to be hit with the harsh reality of low consumer demand and little to no investor interest. But you don’t have to assume, do you?

The discovery phase is exactly what you need to see whether your ideas are really viable and can stand up to competition. Market and user research will help you understand your target demographic’s pains and needs, which will result in a more refined project concept. It will also allow you to collect early feedback and identify potential flaws and limitations you may have to work with. 

It’s not uncommon for startup owners to have conflicting ideas of what the project should be and look like. The discovery phase can help resolve those contradictions. From requirements prioritisation to visual prototyping, a lot of compromises will have to be made.

This is also the phase where relevant stakeholders, users, business representatives, and developers will be engaged in active discussions. This creates an environment for open communication where all sorts of perspectives get to shine, allowing you to come to more informed decisions. 

Big projects mean big risks. Complex ones even moreso. In general, the more variables involved in a project’s making and success, the more you need to invest into research and planning. 

It’s also dangerous to embark on long-term ventures without being backed up by market insights. Even though some strategies will work great in the short term, things may not be as simple in the long run. Going into a project like that without a discovery phase is nothing short of madness.

High-risk projects are endeavours that have extremely high development, marketing, and/or maintenance costs. You put a lot of money on the line, sometimes even the fate of the whole company. So lest you have a death wish, don’t dive in uninformed. 

The discovery phase will not only help you understand whether the idea is feasible or not. It may also help you cut costs and thus soften the blow if the project doesn’t perform as well as expected.    


The Discovery Phase is important for any project. You can’t just set up a team and start the development without any preparation. Unless you do similar projects on a production line, like for example, e-Commerce sites with more or less standardised requirements. But even then, it’s important to be prepared for the development and clarify all the necessary requirements and nuances beforehand. — Sergey Zubovich, the CEO of Bamboo Agile

However, Sergey does note that there are two types of discovery phase, which can work better for different types of projects. Let’s have a quick look at each of them.

Discovery Phase Types

If you are doing a big budget project that involves a lot of moving parts and is likely to be long-term, you need a clear plan of action. If that’s the case, extended discovery is a must.

“Some types of projects need a complete elaboration of the technical specifications, architecture, and design before the development starts,” says Sergey. “The advantage of this approach is that the results can be interpreted and used in many different ways. Some clients can even back out of development completely after the precise requirements become apparent. The downside is that this takes a lot of time and money.”

Not all projects have the resources for a large discovery phase. But that doesn’t mean you have to go in unprepared. Instead, you can go for a simplified approach in which you build requirements based on the needs of the development process. 

“With this method, you’ll usually need to create a small Proof of Concept prototype,” tells Sergey. “It’s supposed to be as simple as can be, just so that it implements the most basic non-branching user flow. But it needs to prove the feasibility and viability of the idea. The massive advantage here is that you won’t develop requirements that will be impossible or very difficult to meet later on. It’s also very fast and cheap. And there are little to no downsides.”

Going through the discovery phase will help you get the following:

Project Discovery Phase Deliverables

Benefits Of The Software Development Discovery Phase

Running a project discovery phase before starting product development has undoubtful benefits.

The discovery phase is a reliable tool to build trusting relationships between the client and the development team. Communication during this stage will help you better understand the development company as a partner and build a relationship that is likely to flow into a long-term partnership.

Reducing Risks

The plan developed during the opening phase will allow you to avoid wasting resources on fixing preventable mistakes. You’ll also minimise the risk of missing deadlines or creating budget overheads.

A roadmap is a project timeline with all the intermediate goals and deadlines laid out. If you have concrete project requirements set during the discovery phase, you can build one for the entire project before the development even starts. 

This will allow you to clearly lead the project from idea to launch without sudden last-minute changes. The roadmap can also be shown to investors and potential users to help them get a clearer picture of the future product.

The more specialists are involved in the discovery phase, the better. Ideally, the entire team should participate, as well as someone representing your end users (that’s who you’re making the app for, after all). 

Each team member will bring something different to the table.

  • Product Owner. Product owner helps develop the product vision, defines its goals, and approves or declines offered solutions.
  • Business Analyst. The BA is responsible for research, data analysis, finding possible problems, and the solutions to those problems.
  • Project Manager. The PM establishes smooth communications within the team, as well as plans how their work will be planned, tracked, evaluated, and reported.
  • UX/UI Designer. Designers ideate the first sketches for what the software may look like and draft its user interface.
  • Software Architect. The architect approximates the software’s future structure and selects the optimal tech stack for the project. They may also participate in estimation.
  • Backend Developer. Backend developers analyse the requested functionality and estimate how long it will take to develop.
  • Frontend Developer. Fronted developers estimate the time required to develop the app’s web interface.
  • QA Engineer. The QA specialist decides which quality assurance tasks will be necessary and how long they will take.

Software Development Discovery Phase Stages

So, let’s take a closer look at the steps involved in the project discovery phase.

Draw up a list of stakeholders, such as the product owner, investors, developers, end-users, and everyone else who will somehow interact with the product. Establish a mutual communication channel between the development team and the client to understand each other’s vision of the final product. Try to do the same for all the other stakeholders.

Market research allows you to analyse existing solutions, find their weak points, and identify a free market niche. If you still haven’t done it by this point, now is the time. Once all the relevant information is gathered, the team’s business analyst will conduct a review and analysis of it. As a result, you will be able to devise a feature list and a more informed market strategy.

You need to gather all the software requirements in one place, usually a document. This can be done based on the client’s product vision, market data, and user stories. You’ll also create use case diagrams, which showcase possible user interactions with the system.

This stage involves close interaction with product owners and designers. The latter will create wireframes of the interface, as well as the prototype of the UX design.

Here you’ll define the project architecture and the tech necessary to make it work. This is done by the development team. This is also when you need to consider possible third-party integrations and non-technical requirements, such as data protection protocols.

After all the necessary project information has been aggregated in one place, the development team can start estimating it. This means defining the amount of time and money required to bring the idea to life, to create an MVP, or to deploy a full-fledged product.

Want to learn more about Agile project estimation? Read this .

discovery in projects

Project Discovery Phase Tools

Discovery can be made easier with the help of some tried-and-true tools.

A mind map is an interaction diagram showing the various roles, features, modules, and integrations your project has. It also showcases the project’s boundaries, the links within it, as well as all the requirements it needs to meet.

User Stor ies

User stories show how potential users will interact with your application. To create a user story, you first make up a hypothetical user profile (with a specified age, gender, hobbies, goals) and imagine how they might interact with your product. That way you can identify possible problems users may encounter and target their needs more precisely.

A BPMN diagram visualises all possible interactions with your application. For example, what actions the user performs to reach their goal, what the most frequent ways of interacting with the system are, how information enters the application, etc. It’s extremely helpful for understanding and planning user flow.

A request-response model is an essential part of technical documentation. It lists the conditions for interacting with third-party systems: what data the system will request, and what data it will receive in response.

The non-functional requirements diagram concerns such requirements as performance, scalability, compatibility, security, localisation, usability, etc. It gives you a clear overview of these factors, helps you prioritise between them, and lets you determine their impact on the overall budget.

Communication between the team and the client is very important when drawing up a project design concept. As the client, you need to describe your wishes as clearly as possible, and the team will assess their usefulness and feasibility. It is also important to have a designer who is up to date with the current UX/UI trends, as visual appeal and usability are important factors of the project’s success.

Learn more about current e-Commerce app design trends in this article .

Dangers Of Skipping The Project Discovery Phase

Having talked about the advantages of the software development discovery phase, one must mention the dangers of skipping it.

Needs Discrepancy

Lack of a clear plan, lack of communication, and misunderstandings can lead to a huge discrepancy between the expected product and the one you actually get. It can also lead to wasted time and budget.

Misdirection, unclear business goals, or lack thereof can lead to requirements being changed too often. Because of this, additional funding will be required, which may lead to you overspending or running out of budget long before the product – or even the MVP – is finished.

It is almost impossible to set deadlines when your action plan is vague. Therefore, it is also impossible to finish development phases on time. All this leads to the postponement of deadlines and the loss of finances.

In the end, you may have to resort to software project rescue . During this process, specialists analyse your existing solution and propose a plan to fix all the detected issues. So it’s not a hopeless situation, but one you’d rather avoid.

To make sure that the project is covered as fully as possible during the project discovery phase, make a list of the points that need to be addressed. We’ve put them together for you in a kind of general checklist.

  • Client discussion: project (development from scratch or upgrading an existing one), goals, users, research;
  • Market analysis: existing solutions, buying habits, comprehensive market research;
  • Competition research: direct and indirect, failure analysis, USP;
  • User research: drawing up a complete user portrait (geography, demographic), user scenarios;
  • Technical requirements: specifications, list of features, technology stack;
  • If a solution already exists: analysis of the solution, reasons for failure, test results, technical analysis, user reviews.

Discovery Phase Checklist

Of course, these are far from all the points that are necessary for a comprehensive study of the project discovery phase. However, you can use these steps as a guide to draw up a basic picture of the project, which can then be worked out and supplemented with more information.

As a rule, the software development life cycle consists of five stages: initiation, planning, execution, control, and closure. The software development discovery phase here is kind of a bridge between the initiation and planning phases. 

Usually, if the Agile methodology is applied in the development company, the project discovery phase is carried out during the first sprint. It helps to clarify how well a development team and client understand each other from the beginning. 

According to project size, the development phase can last from a few days to even a month.

The price of the product development discovery phase closely depends on the people involved in the process and the time spent on it. On average, the cost varies from $2000 to $4000 .

The project discovery phase can significantly help you avoid not only unnecessary disappointments but also temporal and monetary losses. As a rule of thumb, you should entrust the process to industry professionals that are well familiar with the market.

Bamboo Agile is no stranger to software development, having completed hundreds of projects and their respective discovery phases. Contact us to get a free consultation with our specialists!

The discovery phase is a stage of product development where stakeholders identify project objectives, gather requirements, and explore potential solutions to define the scope and direction of a project before actual development starts. It involves research, analysis, and extensive planning.

The purpose of a discovery phase in software development is to gather insights, define project goals, identify requirements, and assess feasibility, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions and lay the foundation for a successful development process.

During the discovery phase, stakeholders engage in research, user interviews, and requirements gathering to establish a clear direction for the project. This phase helps mitigate risks and ensure alignment among all parties involved.

To run a discovery phase, engage stakeholders, conduct research, gather user feedback, and hold workshops to define project goals, scope, and requirements, culminating in a comprehensive understanding of the project’s direction and feasibility.

Typically, the resources being assessed during the discovery phase are: 1. Human resources; 2. Financial resources; 3. Technological resources; 4. Time resources; 5. Knowledge resources; 6. Material resources (hardware components, devices, or other physical materials); 7. External partnerships; 8. Data availability.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Author:  Anastasia Kushnir

Writer at Bamboo Agile

Low-Code Vs Traditional Development: What to Choose

Cookies on GOV.UK

We use some essential cookies to make this website work.

We’d like to set additional cookies to understand how you use GOV.UK, remember your settings and improve government services.

We also use cookies set by other sites to help us deliver content from their services.

You have accepted additional cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

You have rejected additional cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

discovery in projects

beta Contact the Service Manual team if you have feedback, questions or suggestions.

  • Service manual
  • Agile delivery

How the discovery phase works

Give feedback about this page

Page contents:

How long a discovery should take, set a goal for your discovery, define the problem, what to find out in discovery, sharing what you learn, the team you need, how you know discovery is finished, related guides.

Before you commit to building a service, you need to understand the problem that needs to be solved.

That means learning about:

  • your users and what they’re trying to achieve
  • any constraints you’d face making changes to how the service is run - for example because of technology or legislation
  • the underlying policy intent you’ve been set up to address - this is the thing that government wants to change or make happen
  • opportunities to improve things - by sharing data with other teams, for example

This part of your project is called the discovery phase.

What you learn during discovery should help you work out whether you want to move forward to the alpha phase. Running an alpha means you’ve decided that the benefits of looking further into the problem outweigh the cost.

You should not start building your service in discovery.

Before starting discovery, check if you need spend controls approval to spend money on your service.

You can download a poster that explains what the discovery phase is for .

There’s no set time period for a discovery, but around 4 to 8 weeks is typical. Let the purpose of your discovery dictate how long you spend on it.

If you’re working on a problem that no one’s researched before, you might need a bit longer. If it’s a problem you know a fair bit about already, you might be able to have a slightly shorter discovery.

It’s useful to start by setting a clear goal for your discovery. This will help you scope your discovery appropriately and work out when it’s finished.

At the start of your discovery, you might be presented with a pre-defined solution or told you’re building a specific thing.

Before you start your research, you’ll need to interrogate that solution and reframe it as a problem to be solved. This will help you better understand what your team has been set up to achieve.

Break down assumptions and ask lots of questions. Reframing the problem also includes agreeing what is not part of the problem.

For example, a problem is not: “We need to build an interactive map to show people where our contact centres are”. It’s probably something like: “How can we make it easier for people to find their nearest contact centre if they need to book a face-to-face appointment?”

So start by defining the problem you’re working on . The better you define it, the better the potential solutions you’ll end up with if you move on to the alpha phase.

You should also consider quantifying the value of solving the problem you’ve been set up to address. During discovery, that means understanding how much the problem is currently costing.

Once you’ve set a goal for your discovery and understand the problem you’re looking into, you’re ready to start research.

Focus on learning about your users and their context, the constraints that affect your problem or the wider context you’re working in - and any opportunities to improve things.

Understanding users and their context

Start by learning about your users and their context . This means understanding what the user’s trying to achieve and how they go about doing it.

When you dig into this, you’ll often find the thing you’re working on is part of a bigger process or user journey. For example, getting sponsored by an employer is only one part of coming to work in the UK .

Understanding context includes developing a picture of what that wider journey looks like - for example, by creating a low fidelity map of the services that exist in the wider problem space .

As you flesh out your map, you’ll probably notice that the problem spans across multiple departments and sometimes includes non-government organisations too.

Spend some time during discovery learning from those other teams and organisations. You should also talk to your operations colleagues, given that the user’s journey is very likely to include interactions via offline channels.

You’ll also need to learn enough about your users’ accessibility requirements to let you work out whether the problem space you’re looking at presents any particular challenges from an inclusion point of view.

Bear in mind that, in the UK, 1 in 5 people report a permanent disability. And that accessibility covers a range of other needs for people who do not have a disability.

You’ll also need to think about things like your users’ digital skills and internet access .

Understanding constraints

You’ll need to understand any constraints you’re likely to come up against if you were to move on to the alpha phase. This includes constraints due to things like:

  • legislation
  • legacy technology
  • existing processes and systems

You’ll need to work out which of these constraints are hard constraints that you will not be able to do much about. For example, primary legislation is not something that can easily be changed. But if you were to move on to alpha, you’d need to find a way of delivering a service that still works for your users.

Some constraints are soft constraints, though. For instance, if existing processes (whether in digital, call centre or paper-based teams) are preventing you from delivering the best version of your service, you’ll need to work to change those processes - do not just work around them.

Understanding constraints is helpful for two main reasons. Firstly, it helps you work out whether it’s worth continuing to alpha. If there’s a hard constraint which means you are not able to improve on the solution that’s currently available, it might be worth stopping at the end of discovery.

The second reason is that it can help you prioritise your risky assumptions if you do continue to alpha. For example, if a service will only be viable if you can change an existing process or structure, you’d want to focus on ways of doing that during your alpha.

You could also look at related or similar services, to understand the constraints they face and how they dealt with them.

Identify improvements you might be able to make

One of the benefits of understanding the user’s wider journey and who’s involved in delivering it is that you can spot things that could be improved. You could take these improvements on to later development phases.

For example, your discovery research might reveal that another part of government is already collecting the personal information you need from your users. If you decide to go ahead and build a service, reusing that data would prevent users from having to provide the same information multiple times.

You could spend part of your alpha evaluating the technical and legal challenges of reusing that data in your service.

Your research might also lead you to consider alternatives to building a service. For example, you might be able to solve the problem more effectively (or less expensively) by publishing website content, running a campaign, partnering with a non-government organisation, giving improved information to face-to-face advisors or making data or an API available to third parties.

Your service should not duplicate another government service and it should only meet user needs that it makes sense for government to meet.

How you’ll measure success

You need to consider how you’ll measure if you’ve been successful. That means you need to think about:

  • what data you’ll collect to measure service performance
  • what performance metrics you’ll use to understand if the service is working for users

Unless confidentiality issues mean you cannot, you should talk publicly about what you’re learning. You could do this by publishing blog posts or running open show and tells.

This helps people across and outside your organisation know what you’re doing and makes it easier to collaborate with the other organisations working in your problem space.

Aim to involve a variety of disciplines, although there are some people you need to have in your team at each phase .

Your discovery is finished when you’ve decided whether or not you want to move on to alpha. There a couple of factors that play into this decision, including whether:

  • there’s a viable service you could build that would make it easier for users to do the thing they need to do
  • it’s cost effective to pursue the problem - this means weighing up how much it’d cost against how much of an improvement you think you could make

It’s not a failure to stop at the end of the discovery phase if your research shows that’s the best thing to do. In fact, you’ll be saving time and money that could be better spent elsewhere.

If you do decide to move on to alpha, you’ll need to make sure you:

  • understand the wider context and the other services, teams and organisations working on similar problems to you
  • are clear on how what you’re working on fits into that wider problem space
  • have a list of ideas you’d like to test at alpha and an idea of which one you’d like to test first
  • know roughly who you need in your team for alpha
  • know how you’ll measure whether you’ve been successful

You may find these guides useful:

  • How the alpha phase works
  • How the beta phase works
  • How the live phase works
  • Retiring your service

Added new 'How you'll measure success' section.

+ Show all page updates (3)

Updated to reflect the requirements of the updated Service Standard.

Added guidance on how to meet government accessibility requirements in discovery.

Guidance first published

Is this page useful?

  • Yes this page is useful
  • No this page is not useful

Help us improve GOV.UK

Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.

To help us improve GOV.UK, we’d like to know more about your visit today. We’ll send you a link to a feedback form. It will take only 2 minutes to fill in. Don’t worry we won’t send you spam or share your email address with anyone.

Guide to the Project Discovery Phase in 2024

  • Guide to the...

What is the Discovery Phase?

How to plan a discovery phase of a project, what are the discovery phase deliverables, importance of the discovery phase, discovery phase best practices, wrapping up.

Want to build software that delivers value on a reasonable budget, stays on track, and fits your business strategy? A thorough project Discovery Phase will give you the answers you need most. 

According to McKinsey , 45% of IT projects exceed their budget, and 7% exceed planned time constraints. This signifies poor strategy development at the initial stages.

Intellectsoft’s expertise in conducting the Discovery Phase for system engineering and project management helps you avoid costly mistakes and achieve project success. Learn more about the benefits and deliverables in the article below.

Before learning the intricacies of the project Discovery Phase , you need to make sure you know which “neighborhood” you’re in. When looking for answers online, you can come across a range of various definitions that have nothing to do with the Discovery Phase concept that you really need to know. 

Let’s just clarify that, in this article, we are going to talk about the Discovery Phase as part of the system architecture conducted by your software engineering partner, Intellectsoft. We will also look at the alternative definitions from the Project Management perspective so that you know the difference. 

In the first case, the Discovery Phase encompasses the primary step of the Solution Architecture lifecycle (Lovatt, 2021) that creates a foundation for a successful solution. In this context, it typically includes three major types of activities:

  • Fact-checking. Thoroughly studying all architectural inputs that are relevant to the problem area.
  • Engaging stakeholders. Identifying people relevant to the solution scope and their responsibilities. 
  • Establishing Success Criteria. You’ll never know if the solution turned out well if you don’t set expectations, assessments, and success criteria beforehand.

Inputs to these activities: architectural artifacts, stakeholders register, business case. If some critical information is unavailable, the Discovery Phase has to be extended to cover investigation and modeling. Existing artifacts like business requirements are also subject to reformulation and modification if key stakeholders deem those insufficient.

Deliverables: technical approach outline, system design outline, project planning roadmap, wireframes, and prototypes.

Important Differences

In our customers’ internal business processes, the Discovery Phase in project management involves identifying the business value of some idea. Thus, the major deliverable is the business case. More often than not, we cover the system architecture concept of the Discovery Phase because customers prefer to create their business cases internally (since it depends on many organization-specific and sensitive data).

The primary role of the business idea justification is defining a dominant business objective. This could be a market demand, organizational need, customers’ request, technologically competitive edge, social responsibility, or legal requirements. Whatever the purpose, a project needs some rationale to begin with.

Deliverables: Business case/plan, current vs. future state, return on investment; list of prequalified vendors, predetermined clients, preexisting contracts, capital expenses (CapEx), and operational expenses (OpEx) plans.

In this scenario, the main deliverable (business case) outlines the scope, audience, and purpose of the proposed work and establishes the value it could bring. A well-researched business case can show that a project is worth the investment. It is a strategic document.

Consequently, here Intellectsoft steps in on the next phase (which traditionally could be called the Initiation phase), where we define success criteria, preliminary scope and requirements, high-level risks and assumptions, summary milestones, summary budget, and key technical stakeholders, create a stakeholder register, develop a responsibility assignment matrix, establish communication channels, begin records management, review existing artifacts, determine a solution design, define access requirements for project work, obtain charter sign-off, and perform kickoff.

Discovery Phase planning at Intellectsoft is adjusted to every individual request. Instead of proposing cookie-cutter solutions, we emphasize quality and usefulness, even if it’s a preliminary system design outline. That’s why, after the initial internal discussion, we allocate resources to cover the full-scope Discovery Phase . If we are working with the existing client, the planning phase can be very fast because we already know the artifacts and the current state. However, if we are working with a new customer, the planning process may take up to a few weeks. 

Of course, there is also a standard process at play; for example, our project Discovery Phase normally starts with activities like:

  • Preliminary meetings with a customer,
  • Interviews with stakeholders,
  • Contextual research,
  • Documentation study,
  • Review of preexisting processes.

Once we have a general understanding of the scope of work, we are ready to dive deeper and work on discovering appropriate technological solutions to the project in question.

Sometimes, when technical stakeholders say planning, they also mean all the activities of the actual, ongoing Discovery Phase of a project . So, just to clarify, all the processes of brainstorming and creating supporting documentation throughout the already initiated phase can be referred to as Planning.

Below are examples of Discovery Phase deliverables that might be associated with software development projects. Note that it greatly depends on the customer and the particular objectives. For larger projects and sometimes for venture series startups, more paperwork is involved.

Existing Artifacts Review

Artifacts are tangible items, like documents or products, that were previously made and are available at the time the project Discovery Phase starts. For example, we might ask to review the business case, current project documentation or previous designs, and so on. Without understanding what you already have, we won’t be able to make informed conclusions and outline of what needs to be done next.

If we are to build a complex system, we might ask to clarify your relationship with current or future clients, vendors, etc. Preexisting contracts might affect how the system needs to be shaped, e.g., what business processes and logic to include. 

You might supply such artifacts as a master service agreement (MSA), statement of work (SOW), or terms of reference (TOR).

Capital Expenses vs. Operational Expenses Assessment

Budget allocation is usually the customer's call, but when we see room for optimization, we offer guidance. For instance, in heavy equipment facilities, projects often involve both operational expenditure (OpEx) for software, which doesn't appreciate or depreciate, and capital expenditure (CapEx) for durable assets like equipment, which are taxed and appreciate/depreciate over time. In such cases, we suggest ways to leverage technology to increase the value of those durable assets and lower OpEx, ultimately boosting ROI.

A client needs software for monitoring ice melting that might result in spring flood damage to a city at the foot of the mountain. The problem is that the visualization quality is poor, so the client is considering a multi-million dollar investment into cloud-based data processing architecture that improves quality with AI. We analyze their situation and point out that improving the physical layer (OSI Layer 1) by ensuring a clear line of sight between transceivers, along with minimum loss of local connectivity on Layers 2 and 3, could achieve similar, even better results faster and at a lower cost. 

Therefore, we’d advise enabling VLANs to isolate network traffic throughput and introducing QoS routing. Then, we could suggest lightweight software specifically designed for handling interference, phase delay, and signal loss issues to avoid operational lags. We would also ask questions about how satisfied the client is with the current data processing algorithms because GIS is known to work with huge amounts of data, so before doctoring that with AI, it is necessary to make sure that we do not work with erroneous and poorly pre-processed data in the first place (which can be achieved by well-known mathematical algorithms and quickly done using existing libraries). This software might focus on key data points and visualization techniques optimized for the available bandwidth, delivering clear visuals more reliably.

Note: The low-level software solution will depend on various factors like the facility's specific needs, the type of wireless system, and the desired data representation. This example aims to illustrate the principle of offering software alternatives that capitalize on improved hardware conditions instead of relying solely on “fashionable” cloud solutions that don’t necessarily address the core problem.

Illustration of an example of software alternatives that utilize improved hardware conditions instead of cloud solutions.

Because capital assets will benefit the organization for years after the project ends, they may be sourced from the organization’s budget, not the project’s. That is often a point that needs to be escalated to a higher level of negotiation.

Current State vs. Future State / Gap Analysis

Here, the analyst will create a contrast-and-comparison table of the current state of project solutions vs. the desired improvement. While these statements should be clear and concise, they should not focus on either the technical or implementation aspects of the issues.

For example, instead of mentioning the future state as “Sales team is migrated to This CRM Brand,” it is better to write “Sales leads are increased by 30%.” Particular solutions to the future state will be designed at a later stage of the project Discovery Phase .

This document can focus on gaps, bottlenecks, and weaknesses in current processes, such as lack of automation or missed revenue caused by outdated software. Growth of business operations might also go here, as it is an opportunity for improvement.

Interface Inventory, IT Asset Inventory

Naturally, any solution has multiple components at different levels of interaction and communication with each other. By creating an interface inventory, we are clarifying our understanding of the solution architecture and, therefore, can refer to it when deciding on the implementation roadmap priorities.

We document details like:

  • Name of the interface
  • Destination
  • Rules and other events
  • items exchanged, including any supporting information
  • Workflows, itineraries
  • Pre- or post-conditions.

Same goes for IT assets. We want to itemize all the physical and non-physical digital entities such as networks, servers, workstations, databases, and so on.

Project Charter

Usually developed by the PM during the Discovery Phase of project management , this document is the cornerstone of the project and its main point of reference. It defines the reporting structure for decision-making, as well as the project’s purpose, goals, objectives, requirements, high-level assumptions and constraints, high-level risks, success criteria, a summary milestone schedule, key stakeholders, a summary budget, and an initial key stakeholder register. The project success criteria, which serve as a benchmark for the quality of the produced outcome, are also included (Heldman, 2022).

Risk Assessment

Discovery Phase of a project also highlights possible issues and high-level solutions that are possible to suggest based on existing knowledge.

The basic version of the document is usually an executive summary that provides a top-level synopsis of the problem, the proposed solution, the justification, and the expected benefit, but it skips the analysis behind these decisions. That analysis, along with the estimates of financials, would be included in the more in-depth version of the risk assessment. Depending on the size of the project, it could include the following elements:

  • Problem statement: Description of the issue.
  • Analysis: A root cause analysis or any other analysis that predicts the outcome of the stated issue.
  • Recommended solution: The solution that was analyzed as most likely to succeed
  • Proposed solutions: Alternative approaches to the recommended solution, their strengths and limitations.

The initial risk assessment documents are typically reviewed, refined, and formalized in the project charter.

Preliminary Scope Statement

Outlines the tasks to be done and specifies what's not part of the project. It's often called the big-picture scope.

A PM looks at the charter's requirements and makes a detailed scope statement during planning. This statement gets added to the scope baseline and lists the individual tasks needed for the project. However, the charter's scope is preliminary until more analysis is done.

Usually, it describes the project, what needs to be delivered, how it will be accepted, important points in the timeline, and what's not included in the project.

Solution Design Outline

Solution architecture is often the most anticipated part of the project Discovery Phase . Everyone wants to know the architect’s vision of how to build the solution to estimate what it would take to make it a reality.

Determining which solutions are needed and how they will interact with existing infrastructure is what our architects want to show. We also want to plan for the future, making this solution maintainable and scalable to support the business's growth.

The solution design process has two main outputs: a high-level conceptual design and a low-level technical roadmap. 

Technical Roadmap

Our tech team, including the architect, developers, UX designers, and more, are the main stakeholders for this document. They want to outline the low-level tech details, such that are specific enough to put into sprints and iterations. 

The Discovery Phase activities target a primary goal: developing a conceptual design for part or all of the project. The proposed solutions must align with our customer’s business requirements, therefore addressing business needs and opportunities.

It might be one of the most challenging parts of the solution design pipeline because we need to showcase the value of our proposed design without going into too much detail. It is important to keep an open mind and stay away from specifics because doing so might result in focusing on logical conclusions rather than premises. On the flip, more investigation and flexibility down the pipeline typically result in better working systems.

Importantly, the conceptual solution outline ideally holds the core logical reasoning, which can be extended into and connected to all further levels, down to the physical. Due to the nature of modern system architectures, the level of technological volatility might be high, so making a high-level solution outline ensures that we will not make premature decisions that will have to be redone further down the line. It is essential to acknowledge that the solution architecture life cycle exhibits a high degree of parallelism and iterative refinement based on accumulating knowledge.

Adhering to industry-wide standards such as ISO/IEC/IEEE is considered the best practice in the project Discovery Phase . Some of the activities described in these guidelines include the following.

Gathering Architecture Inputs

A number of factors determine whether useful architecture artifacts are available at the start of the project Discovery Phase :

  • Architecture maturity: whether architecture practice is established and working well in the organization or enterprise and if there is an efficient repository of artifacts that can be easily accessed and in which it is easy to find relevant artifacts.
  • Overlap with current problem area: if the new problem to be solved is in an area or operational domain that has never been addressed before, there will be fewer relevant artifacts.
  • Clarity of understanding of the current problem: if the focus of the problem is too broad or ill-defined, it is harder to distinguish relevant artifacts, and too many irrelevant ones may be included as inputs.

The main product of this activity is a catalog of relevant architecture artifacts for the operational domain of the solution vision. At this stage, it is not necessary to examine the artifacts in detail, but it is important to identify them and know they are available when needed.

If the artifacts are organized in a repository, then more details will be available, such as:

  • Date of production and modification
  • Version number
  • Business area
  • Related artifacts that would be impacted by change, and any dependencies.

It is also useful to record the reason for selecting this artifact by linking it to an element or concept in the problem domain.

Refining Business Requirements

Project success criteria are not possible to draw without prior documentation of business requirements. The logic here is simple: if all the requirements are met – the project deliverable is considered successful. Alternatively, the success can also be judged from the perspective of project constraints like time and resources – in this case, their optimization would imply high-quality results.

Further down the line, business requirements also become a basis for us to create a solution design proposal and a roadmap outline. Keep in mind that if we are adopting an Agile methodology, business requirements might come and go as the project evolves.

The documenting process is sometimes more complex than writing something like “Ok so my idea for a project is this…” If we are taking the business value seriously, our business analysts need to go through several stages:

  • Capturing: listing requirements, plus simple yet actionable explanations.
  • Validating: checking for completeness and correctness.
  • Verifying: testing requirements to see if they are the best option, checking for conflicts and overlaps.

The resulting requirements catalog might include:

  • Name of the business requirement;
  • description;
  • Justification;
  • Change control details.

The requirements catalog is useful for tracing how business requirements become system or data requirements. It can also be used to check if the business needs to consider additional operational measures such as new SLAs.

To document business requirements, we might interview stakeholders, review existing artifacts, or even make new ones (such as use cases, user stories, data models, etc.)

Creating Solution Proposal

At this stage of the project Discovery Phase , we are approaching the most interesting part – describing and illustrating our vision for the solution. We need to focus on core models without swinging away into specifics that could potentially lead us astray. So here we are showing the essence of the design, not constrained by jumping to conclusions or step-by-step plans yet.

If there are several good alternatives, we might propose more than one solution for a customer to choose from. It is also important to come to an agreement between all the stakeholders at this stage.

Complex tech solutions really come alive in stakeholders’ imaginations once they are presented visually. For that, we can use a variety of mediums:

  • Diagrams, charts, graphs, maps
  • Design mockups

Our objectives here are to abstract high enough from technical buzzwords, convey meaning, and, ultimately, obtain stakeholders’ approval.

Supporting Artifacts

Nice visuals are fun, but stakeholders want to understand how the solution addresses their area of business. For that, we dive deeper into supporting artifacts.

For example, a sample high-level architecture definition:

  • Outlines the infrastructure layer that an application will be built on top of
  • Depicts main components together and highlights proposed building blocks
  • Specifies relations and interactions between subsystems
  • Defines security boundaries and considerations
  • Declares data types and their storage approaches
  • Determines application resiliency and failover processes
  • Highlights the insights of the middleware layer
  • Illustrates the principles of scaling and load balancing of the system and its components.
  • Indicates observability functionalities and toolset
  • Marks out external interfaces and integration capabilities and approaches

Project discovery phase might result not only in the collection of information but in the true discovery of requirements that stakeholders didn’t know before. That is why, to clarify our solution ingenuity, it’s useful to maintain artifacts like traceability/cross-reference grids where we show the links between the initial idea and its evolution path, providing explanations for the variations.

Outlining the Step-byStep Plan

At this stage, we collect all the artifacts we obtained or produced before and go down the rabbit hole of the specifics. We are scoping the solution, analyzing interfaces and risks for smaller deliverables (like features), looking at the tech stack options, and offering a high-level step-by-step plan.

Scope Definition

After choosing a solution, we formalize its scope by detailing changes in each business area, specifying their nature (new, existing modification/removal/replacement), and linking them to relevant architecture documentation. This ensures clarity and avoids conflicting efforts throughout the solution's lifecycle.

Building Block Analysis

Building block analysis helps identify reusable components within the organization and assess their suitability for the solution. It creates a solution-building block model detailing each component's name, category, ownership, current state, and required modifications.

KPI Documentation

Before initiating the project, we need to formalize our acceptance criteria with stakeholders. What is considered successful? What is considered done? What are the key metrics that we are striving for? What is the logic behind deciding what’s good and what isn’t? All that needs to be described at the stage of documenting KPIs.

Most often, the KPI documentation types will depend on methodologies and stakeholders involved.

Examples of KPI documentation:

  • Budget (cost performance, cost variance, planned value, etc.) 
  • Performance (schedule performance/value, resource capacity/velocity, stories in development, tasks reopened, changes accepted, burndown, cumulative flow, code coverage, etc.)

Discovery Phase is one of the most exciting stages in software development. It is the time to be creative and to attempt to save the world by visualizing how your solutions will positively impact the global landscape. Whether you are an aspiring startup or an international enterprise, Intellectsoft offers a variety of Discovery Phase packages to suit your needs.

We’ve built software for train passengers , enabled multilingual communications , streamlined investment decision-making, and even helped to build cities . With a diverse experience under our belt, we confidently scale ambitious businesses that want to embrace digital evolution in all of its beauty and power.


Sme banking: fintech challenges & opportunities, what is a common data environment (cde) in the construction industry, healthcare data warehouse: benefits, features and cost, website development cost: a complete guide in 2024, core banking systems: redefine financial services, top software development companies in miami.

Something went wrong. Send form again, please.

Thank you for your message!

We will get in touch with you regarding your request within one business day.

What happens next?

  • Our sales manager reaches you out within a few days after analyzing your business requirements
  • Meanwhile, we sign an NDA to ensure the highest privacy level
  • Our pre-sale manager presents project estimates and approximate timeline

Request a Free Quote

We have offices in:, contact us request a free quote.

BRIDGE Discovery supports innovative and sustainable projects

discovery in projects

For the seventh time, the SNSF and Innosuisse are funding outstanding and sustainable projects with great economic and social potential.

  • X (Ex-Twitter) Icon
  • Facebook Icon
  • WhatsApp Icon

Experts in applied research and the implementation of research results evaluated 101 applications in a two-stage process as part of the BRIDGE Discovery 2023 call. Researchers from 24 consortia were invited to present their project and take part in an interview. Based on the evaluation, the SNSF and Innosuisse will now fund 17 outstanding projects with an overall budget of 21.6 million francs. This corresponds to a success rate of 17 per cent.

Wide range of disciplines and awareness of sustainable development

. Similar to last year, 65 per cent of the projects were submitted by two or three applicants working at different research institutes. This is also reflected in the supported projects: 10 of the 17 funded projects are consortia. Hence, the goal of funding inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration was again achieved with this call.

Culture becomes sustainable

Cultural institutions such as museums and theatres can play a major role in providing inspiration for new ideas and actions. Often, they even serve as role models. The topic of sustainability has increasingly gained traction in the cultural domain in recent years. However, previous measures were fragmented and focused only marginally on the framework in which cultural institutions operate. The project team led by Martin Müller (University of Lausanne) and Leticia Labaronne (ZHAW) have set out to change this. The researchers are developing a management system for sustainability that can be used to measure, monitor and manage progress in a cultural institution. A new quality label and a teaching and qualification programme will help to generate visibility and build the necessary capacities and international partnerships. The long-term goal is to create a global alliance in the area of culture and sustainability that brings together cultural institutions, political decision-makers, donors and associations.

More efficient use of water as a resource

Philip Brunner (University of Neuchâtel), Oliver Schilling (University of Basel) and Rolf Kipfer (EAWAG) want to model and predict water consumption in Switzerland more precisely. Due to the frequent droughts caused by climate change, the demand for irrigation has risen sharply. Groundwater plays a central role here – 80 per cent of Switzerland's drinking water is obtained from this source. New political decisions to protect groundwater mean that catchment zones for many springs need to be redesigned and rivers renaturalised. With the help of a novel marking method, the project team plans to model water on the surface and in the subsurface more accurately and in real time. This allows water to be used more efficiently and simplifies the decision-making process in water resource utilisation projects.

Sustainable chemical production thanks to E. coli bacteria

The chemical industry is largely dependent on fossil fuels as raw materials for the production of chemicals. Professor Julia Vorholt from ETH Zurich and her team are investigating one possible option for reducing this dependency: in recent years, she has succeeded in modifying E. coli bacteria such that they can feed entirely on carbon compounds with one carbon atom, such as methanol. Bacteria with this ability are known as methylotrophs. With the availability of green methanol on an industrial scale (produced from low-carbon sources such as hydrogen or biomass), methylotrophs can be used to produce carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative chemicals. As part of the BRIDGE project, Julia Vorholt now wants to genetically modify E. coli bacteria in such a way that they convert the green methanol into other products as efficiently as possible. The aim is to make this bioprocess more interesting for industry.

Call for proposals 2024 open

The 2024 call for BRIDGE Discovery was launched in January 2024 for researchers from all disciplines. Researchers can submit a letter of intent by 28 February 2024, and a project proposal by 13 May 2024. Letters of intent are a precondition for submitting proposals.

  • Today's news
  • Reviews and Deals
  • Climate change
  • 2024 Election
  • My portfolio
  • My watchlist
  • Stock market
  • Biden economy
  • Personal finance
  • Stocks: most actives
  • Stocks: gainers
  • Stocks: losers
  • Trending tickers
  • World indices
  • US Treasury bonds
  • Top mutual funds
  • Highest open interest
  • Highest implied volatility
  • Currency converter
  • Basic materials
  • Communication services
  • Consumer cyclical
  • Consumer defensive
  • Financial services
  • Industrials
  • Real estate
  • Mutual funds
  • Credit card rates
  • Balance transfer credit cards
  • Business credit cards
  • Cash back credit cards
  • Rewards credit cards
  • Travel credit cards
  • Checking accounts
  • Online checking accounts
  • High-yield savings accounts
  • Money market accounts
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Car insurance
  • Home buying
  • Options pit
  • Investment ideas
  • Research reports
  • Fantasy football
  • Pro Pick 'Em
  • College Pick 'Em
  • Fantasy baseball
  • Fantasy hockey
  • Fantasy basketball
  • Download the app
  • Daily Fantasy
  • Scores and schedules
  • GameChannel
  • World Baseball Classic
  • Premier League
  • CONCACAF League
  • Champions League
  • College football
  • Horse racing
  • Newsletters


  • How To Watch
  • Fall allergies
  • Health news
  • Mental health
  • Sexual health
  • Family health
  • So mini ways
  • Style and beauty
  • Unapologetically
  • Buying guides

New on Yahoo

discovery in projects

  • CA Privacy Notice

Museum of Discovery talks science-related projects ahead of total solar eclipse

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Museum of Discovery is preparing for the total solar eclipse, which is only a few weeks away.

Educator Steven Lamp joined Arkansas Today with a glimpse of what the museum has planned leading up to the eclipse.

Arkansas eclipse map: Which cities will have the best view?

KARK 4 News anchor Caitrin Assaf joined Lamp to demonstrate the challenges astronauts experience in space.

Leading up to the April 8 event, the Museum of Discovery will host workshops for teachers, a Star Wars-themed night and extended hours during the weekend of the eclipse.

Museum of Discovery gearing up for the 2024 solar eclipse

To see all of the events planned, visit .

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KARK.

Recommended Stories

Zola wants to bring the wedding industry into the 21st century.

This week Becca and Dom are joined by Shan-Lyn Ma, the co-founder and CEO of Zola, an online platform for wedding planning and gift registries. Ma talked about why she decided to launch the business after trying to buy a gift for a friend and realizing that wedding registries were still living in the past.

Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser gets pay bump to $26 million after a 38% drop in profits

Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser got a 6% pay bump after a year when profits dropped and Fraser began a restructuring that will result in an estimated 20,000 job cuts.

Never look at ugly power cords again thanks to this brilliant $24 Amazon find

This No. 1 bestselling invention has more than 47,000 shoppers raving about its clutter-clearing virtues.

McDonald's nail polish? The perfect 'ketchup red' nail color is scrumptious and it's available at Amazon

Your mani will look positively delicious, thanks to this McDonald's and Nail.Inc beauty collab.

Hannah Waddingham says she's 'very vocal' about needing time off to be a mom

The "Ted Lasso" star unwinds with friends, family time and "making sure my hair and nails are done."

Amazon Presidents Day deals are still live. Here are 16 items worth buying while discounts last

Enjoy up to 42% off tech, home goods, and more at Amazon. Check out these Presidents’ Day extended deals.

Can Biden do anything to calm voters' concerns about his age?

The president can't make himself any younger, of course, but many political experts believe there are strategies that could help address the biggest challenge facing his reelection campaign.

Coaching carousel catchup: Which new head coaches + OCs unlock their offenses?

It's the pod that was promised. Matt Harmon and The Ringer's Benjamin Solak team up to go through every single new head coach and offensive coordinator hire this coaching cycle and ask one simple question: Is this an offensive ecosystem worth investing in next season?

Former Houston Rockets star Robert Reid dies at 68 after battle with cancer

Robert Reid helped lead the Rockets to their first two NBA Finals appearances in franchise history.

'6 out of 5 stars, seriously': Fans say these $59 earbuds are better than AirPods — and they're 40% off

"I literally stopped using my AirPods because of these," said one fan.

Stock market today: Tech stocks lead market slide with Nvidia earnings on deck

Investors are looking to Walmart earnings to provide insight into consumer resilience, while Nvidia's results loom large.

Where Walmart sees the real value in its $2.3 billion Vizio deal

Walmart is paying $2.3 billion for connected TV maker Vizio in a bid to rival Amazon's ecosystem.

Nix Mini 3 color sensor review: Paint-matching magic

Can't figure out what color is on your wall? This little gadget will tell you in seconds.

Wall Street thinks stocks have room to run even higher than originally thought

Two strategists have boosted their projections for how far stocks can run in 2024.

USWNT forward Mia Fishel suffers torn ACL, will be replaced by Alex Morgan on Gold Cup roster

The U.S. women begin the CONCACAF W Gold Cup Tuesday against the Dominican Republic.

Nvidia’s Q4 earnings will be a referendum on the AI trade; revenue expected to jump 234%

Nvidia will report its Q4 earnings after the bell on Wednesday.

YouTube rolls out new channel pages for creators on its TV app

YouTube is changing the design for creators' channels on the big screen, the company announced today. At the time, YouTube said that artist pages were part of a larger YouTube makeover that also included integrated voice search in the search bar, a menu redesign to make navigation easier, the addition of a new vertical video info menu and larger thumbnails, among other things. In a short video announcing the changes to creators' pages today, YouTube says that the update is focused on offering a more immersive layout design that "surfaces the most relevant content," and makes the Subscribe button easier to access.

Who knew you could buy tiny homes on Amazon?

From modern to traditional, there's a style for everyone — but hurry, because these little dwellings are popular and won't stay in stock forever.

Alexei Navalny death: Wife Yulia Navalnaya's X account briefly suspended as U.S. promises ‘major sanctions’ against Russia

People around the world continue to react in horror to the death of the 47-year-old outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

2024 Fantasy Baseball Strategy: Last year's base-stealing surge was just the beginning

With the running game continuing to be a focal point in 2024, Andy Behrens reminds fantasy baseball managers to prioritize steals when drafting.

Help | Advanced Search

Computer Science > Artificial Intelligence

Title: self-discover: large language models self-compose reasoning structures.

Abstract: We introduce SELF-DISCOVER, a general framework for LLMs to self-discover the task-intrinsic reasoning structures to tackle complex reasoning problems that are challenging for typical prompting methods. Core to the framework is a self-discovery process where LLMs select multiple atomic reasoning modules such as critical thinking and step-by-step thinking, and compose them into an explicit reasoning structure for LLMs to follow during decoding. SELF-DISCOVER substantially improves GPT-4 and PaLM 2's performance on challenging reasoning benchmarks such as BigBench-Hard, grounded agent reasoning, and MATH, by as much as 32% compared to Chain of Thought (CoT). Furthermore, SELF-DISCOVER outperforms inference-intensive methods such as CoT-Self-Consistency by more than 20%, while requiring 10-40x fewer inference compute. Finally, we show that the self-discovered reasoning structures are universally applicable across model families: from PaLM 2-L to GPT-4, and from GPT-4 to Llama2, and share commonalities with human reasoning patterns.

Submission history

Access paper:.

  • Download PDF
  • HTML (experimental)
  • Other Formats

license icon

References & Citations

  • Google Scholar
  • Semantic Scholar

BibTeX formatted citation

BibSonomy logo

Bibliographic and Citation Tools

Code, data and media associated with this article, recommenders and search tools.

  • Institution

arXivLabs: experimental projects with community collaborators

arXivLabs is a framework that allows collaborators to develop and share new arXiv features directly on our website.

Both individuals and organizations that work with arXivLabs have embraced and accepted our values of openness, community, excellence, and user data privacy. arXiv is committed to these values and only works with partners that adhere to them.

Have an idea for a project that will add value for arXiv's community? Learn more about arXivLabs .

Twin Bell's turtles hatch during research project to repopulate the species in the NSW New England region

When scientists discovered seven baby Bell's turtles in a batch of six eggs they had incubated they were initially stumped.

University of New England PhD candidate Louise Streeting said she was sure there was a clerical error, but couldn't have been happier to be proved otherwise.

'When we investigated more closely we realised two babies had come out of the same egg — they're half the size of their siblings," she said.

Two small bell's turtles sit on a hand, they are a dark green and no bigger than a 50c coin.

The twins form part of a repopulation project that is boosting numbers of the endangered Bell's turtles in NSW Northern Tablelands.

It has put close to 3,000 Bell's turtles put back into the local ecosystem.

But twins have never been produced during the project, and with very little literature available, Ms Streeting said new ground has been broken.

Two smaller bells turtles are held next to a bigger one

"There has been no research into twins in Bell's turtles, there has been very little research into twins across turtles in general," she said.

"It's 1-in-3000 eggs, which is very rare — at least for us." 

"Twins do occur across other species of turtles, for example the alligator snapping turtle [has] three sets of twins per 1,000 eggs."

Two small turtles are laid next to their egg

During their time in the lab, the Bell's turtles are assessed, with their measurements and weights recorded, before they are released into waterways on a private property on the Severn River at Glen Innes.

"The twins are half the size of their siblings, but they are doing really well — hopefully they will catch up with their siblings as time goes by," Ms Streeting said.

Twin turtle white table 2

Future of the program

Last year, researchers released 1,500 Bell's turtles into the Northern Tablelands, but the team had to take a more conservative approach for this year's release.

The Gwydir and Namoi river systems were a particular focus last season and were "plentiful" with adult female Bell's turtles to be induced to lay eggs.

Turtle enclosure

However, the focus is now at Glen Innes Severn, where there are fewer adult turtles to induce.

"Unfortunately, this means we can't harvest as many eggs, but obviously makes it extremely important for this water system," Ms Streeting said.

A researcher stands over dozens of tubs with baby Bell's turtles in them.

High rates of predation on nests by wildlife make the program integral to the population of endangered Bell's turtles.

"The turtles are endangered because foxes are raiding more than 97 per cent of turtle nests each year," Ms Streeting said.

"In particular, the population in the Severn and other waterways."

With her PhD graduation just around the corner, Ms Streeting is hopeful the program can continue to grow.

Turtle fox proofing

  • X (formerly Twitter)

Related Stories

Breeding program helping bring an endangered turtle species back from the brink.

A baby Bell's turtle sits on a white lab glove in the lab. The baby turtle is no bigger than the palm of the researchers hand.

Bells turtle hatchlings offer hope for endangered species

A turtle swims through the water

Sniffer dogs part of solution to save Bell's turtle

Bell's Turtle

  • Endangered and Protected Species

discovery in projects

Enter your search term

*Limited to most recent 250 articles Use advanced search to set an earlier date range

Sponsored by   

Saving articles

Articles can be saved for quick future reference. This is a subscriber benefit. If you are already a subscriber, please log in to save this article. If you are not a subscriber, click on the View Subscription Options button to subscribe.

Article Saved

Contact us at [email protected]

Forgot Password

Please enter the email address that you used to subscribe on Engineering News. Your password will be sent to this address.

Content Restricted

This content is only available to subscribers

Set Default Regional Edition

Select your default regional edition of

Note: When you select a default region you will be directed to the home page of your choice whenever you visit This setting is controlled by cookies and should your cookies be re-set you will then be directed to the regional edition associated with the geographic location of our IP address. Should your cookies be reset then you may again use the menu to select a default region.

discovery in projects

sponsored by  

discovery in projects


Change: 0.0115

Article Enquiry

Mingomba discovery highlights value of Konkola West by proximity

Email This Article

separate emails by commas, maximum limit of 4 addresses

discovery in projects

As a magazine-and-online subscriber to Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly , you are entitled to one free research report of your choice . You would have received a promotional code at the time of your subscription. Have this code ready and click here . At the time of check-out, please enter your promotional code to download your free report. Email [email protected] if you have forgotten your promotional code. If you have previously accessed your free report, you can purchase additional Research Reports by clicking on the “Buy Report” button on this page. The most cost-effective way to access all our Research Reports is by subscribing to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa - you can upgrade your subscription now at this link .

The most cost-effective way to access all our Research Reports is by subscribing to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa - you can upgrade your subscription now at this link . For a full list of Research Channel Africa benefits, click here

If you are not a subscriber, you can either buy the individual research report by clicking on the ‘Buy Report’ button, or you can subscribe and, not only gain access to your one free report, but also enjoy all other subscriber benefits , including 1) an electronic archive of back issues of the weekly news magazine; 2) access to an industrial and mining projects browser; 3) access to a database of published articles; and 4) the ability to save articles for future reference. At the time of your subscription, Creamer Media’s subscriptions department will be in contact with you to ensure that you receive a copy of your preferred Research Report. The most cost-effective way to access all our Research Reports is by subscribing to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa - you can upgrade your subscription now at this link .

If you are a Creamer Media subscriber, click here to log in.

7th February 2024

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

Font size: - +

Email this article

Aim-listed Tertiary Minerals has highlighted the promise of its Konkola West copper project, in Zambia, thanks to its close proximity to the  Bill Gates  and  Jeff Bezos -backed KoBold Metals’ Mingomba copper project, which has been in the news over the past few days following the proclamation that it will become one of the world's top three high-grade copper mines.

KoBold has reported plans to start producing copper at the $2-billion Mingomba project by the early 2030s, exploiting what it claims is the largest copper discovery in Zambia in more than a century.

This bodes well for Tertiary, since the Mingomba project is located only about 2 km northeast of the company’s Konkola West project, where KoBold has also signed a definitive earn-in agreement. 

As announced on December 19, subject to government approvals, KoBold is planning to drill test the projected down dip extensions to the copper ore shale that hosts its new discovery. This same formation is also mined at the adjacent Konkola copper mine, where Vedanta is currently committed to investing about $1-billion to expand production. 

Tertiary has noted that KoBold has committed to drilling at least two deep drill holes for at least 2 000 m of drilling at Konkola West in the coming months. 

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

Research Reports

Cover of Creamer Media's Electricity 2023: Resolving South Africa’s ongoing crisis

Latest Multimedia

Integrated infrastructure service offering enables Bigen’s sustainability

Latest News

Platreef exploration

For over 30 years, Werner South Africa Pumps & Equipment (PTY) LTD has been designing, manufacturing, supplying and maintaining specialist...

Environmental Assurance (Pty) Ltd.

ENVASS is a customer and solutions-driven environmental consultancy with established divisions, serviced by highly qualified and experienced...

sponsored by

Photo of Martin Creamer

Press Office


Subscribe to improve your user experience...

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine (print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa) Receive daily email newsletters Access to full search results Access archive of magazine back copies Access to Projects in Progress Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1 PLUS Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?


R1500 (equivalent of R125 a month)

Receive weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine (print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)

Access to full search results

Access archive of magazine back copies

Access to Projects in Progress

Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format


R4500 (equivalent of R375 a month)

All benefits from Option 1


Energy Transition

Roads, Rail and Ports

Battery Metals


Discounted prices based on volume

Receive all benefits from Option 1 or Option 2 delivered to numerous people at your company

Intranet integration access to all in your organisation

Magazine cover image


  1. Project Discovery Phase: Definition, Steps and Deliverables

    discovery in projects

  2. Project Discovery Phase: Definition, Steps and Deliverables

    discovery in projects

  3. Project Discovery: Why is it needed while Outsourcing

    discovery in projects

  4. What is Project Discovery Phase in Custom Software Development

    discovery in projects

  5. Examples Of Project Discovery In 5 Steps

    discovery in projects

  6. How a Discovery Phase of a Project Leads to Success For Our Clients

    discovery in projects


  1. Discovery Phase in Project Management: The Ultimate Guide

    The discovery phase is the initial stage of a project, during which the project team identifies and defines the project's goals and objectives. This phase is where lots of learning and research takes place. Because the project manager and team need to understand the project's scope, requirements, and constraints.

  2. Why You Need the Project Discovery Phase and How To Get It Right

    A discovery phase is essential for project success, as it clearly explains the project's objectives, requirements, and potential obstacles. As someone who has managed projects, it is convenient when tackling complex problems, when conditions are unclear, or when stakeholders have diverse expectations.

  3. What Is Project Discovery Phase and How to Conduct It + Tips

    1. Form a Discovery Team 2. Set a Problem to Solve 3. Define Desired Outcomes 4. Gather Opportunities 5. Define the Target Group 6. Survey Customers Within the Target Group 7. Define the Scope of Work 8. Arrange the Technical Development 9. Prepare for the Next Steps Best Practices for Conducting the Discovery Phase Build a Strong Team

  4. What Is the Discovery Phase of Project and How It Helps

    Project discovery is the initial phase of a project that focuses on gathering information, exploring ideas and the target market, and setting technical specifications. It's also a stage dedicated to understanding the project scope and requirements before moving into actual development.

  5. Project Discovery Phase: Definition, Steps and Deliverables

    What is the discovery phase of a project? Also called scoping, it implies conducting research and doing preparation work before beginning the actual development process, project execution, and launch. In due course, the development team involved in the discovery stage and scoping: collects data on the market and competitors;

  6. Project Discovery Phase

    The discovery phase, also known as the scoping phase, is a process in which information is collected and analyzed about the project. This helps clarify the project's goals, limitations, and overall scope. McKinsey reports that 17% of all projects turn out to be so terrible that they eventually result in the demise of their companies.

  7. Discovery Stage, or What to Do If You Need an Agile Project Analysis

    In fact, Discovery is analysis too, the difference is in the approaches to research. As we said, Discovery Phase is a more agile solution, ideally suited to the ever-changing and evolving IT market. In the past, any IT project was carried out in stages: first, specialists started lengthy and expensive research (also known as analysis), then ...

  8. Discovery Phase of a Project: The Practical Guide

    A project discovery phase usually consists of four stages: requirements elicitation, solution design, architecting the solution, and project planning. Each stage births a set of deliverables you can use to pitch to investors and stakeholders, as well as build your development process upon.

  9. What "Discovery Phase" Actually Means for Your Project

    A project discovery phase shines some light on the project's complexity and functionality. It defines the required efforts on design, development, testing, and project management stages. With a clear direction for the app, the development could take off with clear milestones and possibly lower cost. ‍.

  10. Project Discovery Phase: What To Expect [2024]

    A discovery phase is a planning stage during project initiation, when team members gather information about the project, set up budget and form precise project boundaries. The goal of a discovery phase is to be able to make data-driven decisions and reduce all risks connected to product development. Why do your need it?

  11. Why is a Discovery Phase Essential for Project Success?

    Project discovery is the initial step of project development (check out other services we offer). It's aimed at collecting information about the project to identify its Vision, Goals, and Scope. Let's take a look at why this phase really matters for project success.

  12. Decoding the Discovery Phase: What Is It and Why It Matters

    Discovery is the first step of project development. It is all about collecting information about the project to help everyone understand its vision, goals, and scope. In the discovery phase, you can identify your client's needs, product users, and project stakeholders.

  13. Project Discovery: What is it and Why Do You Need it?

    A Project Discovery Stage (DS) is a pre-development phase that makes the road between the idea/concept and its implementation more accurate and thorough. The main goal for this phase is to clear all the uncertainties and get the answers to all the essential questions before proceeding to the project's development.

  14. What is a Discovery Phase and Why Your Project Needs it?

    Apart from stakeholders, the Discovery Phase typically involves several specialists, including a business analyst, tech lead, project manager, and UX/UI designer. Step 1. Selection. Goal: To build a team that will operate the Discovery Phase. Key role: business owner, stakeholders.

  15. The Discovery Phase in Software Projects

    A successful discovery phase requires active involvement and collaboration among all stakeholders. Who takes part may vary from project to project, but generally, these are: Client: The client is the one who initiates the project. During the discovery phase, their role is to communicate their goals, expectations and business needs.

  16. Discovery session for the new project. Step-by-step

    A discovery session is a meeting between the project team and client to understand the client's business, goals, strategy, operation process, etc. It is the act of gathering essential project information so you can gain a high-level understanding of the project. In most cases, this is done by getting the answers to specific questions.

  17. Discovery phase of a project: what it is in software development and

    The main goal of the discovery phase is to make a project fully correspond to the client's business goals in terms of: User experience. Budget. Time to market. These three aspects require the most planning, as according to McKinsey, 45% of all software development projects fail to be delivered on time and on budget.

  18. The Discovery Phase in UX Projects

    Discovery: A preliminary phase in the UX-design process that involves researching the problem space, framing the problem (s) to be solved, and gathering enough evidence and initial direction on what to do next. Discoveries do not involve testing hypotheses or solutions.

  19. Project Discovery: The Fastest Way to Understand Your New Project

    Project Discovery is the act of gathering key project information so you can gain a high-level understanding of your project.. The idea of Project Discovery comes from the legal profession. During pre-trial procedures, the parties to a lawsuit exchange information with each other about the witnesses and evidence they will present during the trial.

  20. Discovery Phase: Why Start Your Software Project With It

    Most software development projects should go through the discovery phase one way or another. It allows you to comprehensively cover the entire project, answer some questions in advance, and identify possible pitfalls. In other words, it helps avoid unnecessary frustrations with the final product.

  21. What Is Project Discovery Phase, Why it Matters, and How to ...

    In essence, the discovery phase (or business discovery stage or scoping phase) of a project is all about the research and the project's scope defining. In other words, it is a preparatory...

  22. How the discovery phase works

    Define the problem At the start of your discovery, you might be presented with a pre-defined solution or told you're building a specific thing. Before you start your research, you'll need to...

  23. Discovery Phase of the Project: A Complete Guide 2024

    A thorough project Discovery Phase will give you the answers you need most. According to McKinsey, 45% of IT projects exceed their budget, and 7% exceed planned time constraints. This signifies poor strategy development at the initial stages. Intellectsoft's expertise in conducting the Discovery Phase for system engineering and project ...

  24. BRIDGE Discovery supports innovative and sustainable projects

    For the seventh time, the SNSF and Innosuisse are funding outstanding and sustainable projects with great economic and social potential. Experts in applied research and the implementation of research results evaluated 101 applications in a two-stage process as part of the BRIDGE Discovery 2023 call. ... and the implementation of research ...

  25. Museum of Discovery talks science-related projects ahead of total solar

    Leading up to the April 8 event, the Museum of Discovery will host workshops for teachers, a Star Wars-themed night and extended hours during the weekend of the eclipse. Museum of Discovery gearing up for the 2024 solar eclipse . To see all of the events planned, visit

  26. [2402.03620] Self-Discover: Large Language Models Self-Compose

    We introduce SELF-DISCOVER, a general framework for LLMs to self-discover the task-intrinsic reasoning structures to tackle complex reasoning problems that are challenging for typical prompting methods. Core to the framework is a self-discovery process where LLMs select multiple atomic reasoning modules such as critical thinking and step-by-step thinking, and compose them into an explicit ...

  27. Twin Bell's turtles hatch during research project to repopulate the

    The twins form part of a repopulation project that is boosting numbers of the endangered Bell's turtles in NSW Northern Tablelands. It has put close to 3,000 Bell's turtles put back into the local ...

  28. Mingomba discovery highlights value of Konkola West by proximity

    KoBold has reported plans to start producing copper at the $2-billion Mingomba project by the early 2030s, exploiting what it claims is the largest copper discovery in Zambia in more than a century.