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Discovery Phase of Project: A Complete Guide

Krunal Shah

May 16, 2022

8 min readLast Updated Dec 05, 2022

The discovery phase outline is an important part of any project development. The success of a project significantly depends on the initial research, preparation, and goal setting. Statistics say that nearly 70% of the projects fail every year globally to meet the customer requirements and a lack of initial research and planning is a major reason behind that.

To ensure that you are following the right steps to develop your project and the result is as per the customer requirements, it is crucial to do the proper research on various areas. Be it any app or web development, unless your research is done correctly, there are high chances that your product features and solutions will not be as per the requirements. And that’s where the discovery phase comes into play. In this blog, we will learn more about the discovery phase outline, meaning, significance, and more. So, let’s get started!

What Is the Discovery Phase?

The discovery phase is defined as the very first stage of project development. In this phase, the relevant project team needs to collect the related information on the project scope, goals, vision, the features and solutions of the end product, and others. This phase is not only pivotal to starting your project in the right way but also to optimizing the time and resources to develop the project.

As stated in recent Mckinsey research, on average, the moderate to big IT projects overrun their budget by 45%, while the overall project goals and benefits are 56% less than the target. Adopting a proper discovery phase outline can help you prevent such a scenario.

Skipping the discovery phase may seem harmless, but it may lead to several difficulties during your project development such as higher costs, missed milestones, inefficient end product, and even project failure. It is the best practice to do a proper discovery phase outline at the beginning of your project not only to avoid such situations but also for several other reasons. Next, we are going to discuss this in detail.

See More: Rapid Application Development (RAD): A Complete Guide

Why Is the Discovery Phase Important for Your Project?

The discovery phase outline is what determines whether you are starting your project off the right foot and following the right steps. Here are some of the top advantages of the discovery phase outline for your project.

Well-Defined Project Scope

A proper discovery phase outline leads to well-defined project scope. The project scope refers to the important details and information about your projects such as overall project goals, milestones to be achieved, related deadlines, set of project deliverables, and others. Researching well through the discovery phase ensures that you have a clear idea of all these factors and hence it becomes easier to develop your project accordingly.

Market-Driven Product Development

Just developing a product is never the goal, but building a product with good market positioning is. Market research, competitor analysis, and relevant information form a significant part of the discovery phase. By having a transparent knowledge of the present market state, the pain points your product is going to solve, the market positioning you are targeting, and others, you can ensure market-driven product development for the better success of your project.

Resources Optimization

Many of the projects fail to utilize their resources properly and a proper discovery phase outline can save you from this. By doing the research and analysis of your project requirements beforehand, you can get a crystal clear idea of the resources to be spent on the proper areas.

Without doing the discovery phase outline, it will become difficult to keep track of your resources and time. And so, if you want to optimize your resources to bring the best out of your project, then it is mandatory to do the discovery phase outline before.

Better User Experience

Good user experience is one of the ultimate goals to keep in mind during your product development. Doing the discovery phase outline properly lets you have the required knowledge of your target audience, their demand, expectations, pain points, and other relevant factors. This in turn helps you ensure a better user experience.

See More: Statement of Work (SOW) Document in Software Development: All You Need to Know

Team Needed for the Discovery Phase Outline

Before we guide you through the steps for the discovery phase outline, let’s have an idea of the team required to carry out the process.

Business Analyst

The business analyst plays a significant role in the discovery phase outline process by analyzing and researching from the business perspective. A business analyst is meant to look after the product development criteria, and requirements from a business perspective to meet them all through an effective business solution.

Project Manager

The project manager is in charge of handling multiple activities that take place in the discovery phase while maintaining seamless communication among the concerned team and the client. Coordinating between the discovery and product development teams, arranging and scheduling meetings, recording the discussions, findings from the meetings, and other relevant information - are some of the key roles of a product manager in the discovery phase.

Software Developer

No doubt that the software developers must be present and active in the discovery phase to understand the product features, solutions, development requirements, and overall product goals better. It is recommended to let the developer team carry out additional research on the tech stacks, development approaches, and others as per their requirements.

UI/UX Designer

The UI/UX of your product is important to determine its success, customer response, and even market positioning. The UI/UX team must be actively present during the discovery phase to come up with a competitive design and easy-to-understand and visually comprehensible product that meets your overall project goals more efficiently.

See More: What makes Python the Ultimate Choice for Start-ups?

Discovery Phase Outline: Steps to Follow

Now that you have a good idea of the importance of the discovery phase outline, you must be wondering about the process. Well, here we will walk you through the steps for the discovery phase outline.

1. Identify the Project and Business Goals

The project and business goals are interrelated and you must take care of both of them to align with the overall target successfully. While doing the discovery phase outline, this should be one of your prime concerns to ensure that you are on the right track to develop exactly what is required.

This includes chalking out the main solutions the product is meant to provide, what is the business target and how effective the product will be to help you achieve that, and others. You must focus on the prime project development goals and how those can help you boost your business revenue and the profitability of your company.

2. Identify the Stakeholders

Your discovery phase outline process must emphasize the list of stakeholders who are the most important and relevant for your project. This step should include detailed information on the requirements, goals, and criteria to meet for investors, end-users, administrators, product owners, and others closely related to the project development process.

3. Collect the Relevant Information

Once you are done with the above analysis, you need to collect and collate all related information so that it can come to your help in any stage of the product development. If the basic research on the above-mentioned pointers doesn’t suffice to provide you with all the information needed, it is recommended to do a more in-depth analysis by doing one-to-one discussions, taking interviews, and doing a second round of analysis to gather all the crucial information.

4. Analyze the Requirements of the Target Audience

Analyzing the requirements of your target audience is very important as it majorly determines whether your product will be successful or not. In this step of the discovery phase outline, you need to do thorough research on your target audience, their key requirements, behavioral pattern on purchase, demand curve, and existing product and pricing pain points if any.

To simplify your task you can segment the target audience based on the demographics, budget, and other factors. Also, you can create the end-users persona to map your expected product solutions to their requirements more accurately in the discovery phase.

5. Do Market & Competition Research

You must not skip this step while doing the discovery phase outline. Based on your product type and target regions, you need to have a good knowledge of the present market, past market trends, and forecasting.

Also, you need to do the competitive research and analysis on the key market players, their end-users, market share, growth, restraining factors, strategies, and others. Keeping all this information ready will not only help you in product development but also strengthen your market position better.

6. Optimize the Budget and Timeline

Optimizing the resources and timeline is important to maintain your budget while developing a competitive product. The discovery outline phase helps you streamline the product development process and optimize the available resources by offering a clear picture of the concerned areas from the very beginning.

So there is a reduced risk of running out of budget or falling short of resources at any point of the project development process. In this step of the discovery phase outline, you need to assess the available resources and how to spend them to achieve the milestones without exceeding your capacity.

7. Create the Project Roadmap

Now that you are done with the discovery phase outline and have executed the main steps, you need to create a proper product roadmap by using the outcomes of all these stages. This will help you do a final outlining of the product features, goals, solutions, and priorities before you start with the development.

See More: Top 10 Product Development Frameworks for Startups

Time and Money Needed in the Discovery Phase

The cost can be even lower in regions like the Asia Pacific, especially in countries like India, China, Japan, etc. For a small project, the timeline can vary from 1 to 3 days, while for medium projects it can be 1-2 weeks and for large or more complex projects it may take 3-4 weeks or more. However, you can optimize the time and cost by adjusting the discovery phase outline steps and focusing on what matters the most.

The time and money required for the discovery phase depend on the product type, project complexity and size, and other relevant factors. On average, the cost may vary from $5000 to $20,000 in global regions.

See More: How to Write a Mobile App Business Plan


The discovery phase is pivotal for an efficient product development process and the above guide will help you do the discovery phase outline in the right way. Apart from maintaining the above-mentioned steps, you may also need to customize the process based on your project type, business goals, and other unique factors. However, the main target is to utilize its benefits to come up with the best possible product without any resource wastage.

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