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Project Discovery Phase: A Crucial Part of Software Projects

Krunal Shah

Feb 24, 2021

9 min readLast Updated Jan 23, 2023

Project discovery phase

No matter what software development project you are doing but it needs to begin with the project discovery phase. It will help you not only work faster but will succeed in achieving your goals.

According to the Standish group 2015 chaos report, only 29% of software development projects were successful and 19% were a complete failure because of poor management.

85% of the software projects fail but the developers can help you succeed, said the Tech Republic article.

Now that you know it’s crucial we believe you must have a lot of questions and we are here to answer them all. In this article, you will find all the answers related to the project discovery phase.

What is a project discovery phase?

project discovery phase

The project discovery phase is the first phase in delivering any software project you are going to begin. It could be understood as a scoping phase where you create a shared understanding of what this service is? who is it for? why is it important? and what good does this service do?

From this, you can get a sense of what kind of issues to start exploring and potentially testing in the subsequent phases. It helps to answer the question like a business’s aspects, its target audience, and who are the product users.

Overall the discovery phase helps businesses in organizing and understanding the development stage better.

Why is the project discovery phase needed and its purpose?

Project discovery phase

The discovery stage is an intensive research stage ultimately defining a project’s scope and giving it a proper direction. It begins with the understanding of the client’s requirements, target audience needs, and analyzing the market for the upcoming product and its benefits for the users.

The project discovery stage should be a part of the development process and considered as an initial stage of any software development.

The discovery phase is helpful in the following ways:

  • It helps in solidifying project goals and scope resulting in an accurate estimation.
  • Ensuring higher returns.
  • It helps in coming up with the right end-user experience.
  • Saves a lot of time and money especially in advanced stages for a  sudden change in the development process.
  • Helpful in identifying and tackling risks and roadblocks.
  • No need to do further research as the discovery phase provides all the information required for the development stage.
  • It will be easy to communicate as you will know who is fulfilling which role.

Let’s see what happens when you start the development with unclear understanding and refuse to consider the discovery phase.

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What happens if you skip the project discovery phase?

According to Mckinsey, only 17% of IT projects collapse because of the lack of proper planning and analysis.

Overconfidence and enthusiasm may put you to skip the project discovery phase but it will only lead to disaster.

Some companies skip the project discovery phase and it results in:

  • Uncertain expenses and unfocused aim.
  • It will be difficult to meet your project expectations.
  • The company is more prone to missed deadlines, postponing the launch.
  • Lack of planning and changing plans leads to an unexpected result causes delaying the launch.
  • You will be unable to change your vendor and if you do you will have to start the whole process again but now with including the project discovery stage.

Therefore in this article, you will read why it is important to include it as you already know how it can be lethal if you ignore it.

What happens in a project discovery phase?

Project discovery phase

The discovery phase is meant to eliminate the risk of market demand and not being able to pay unexpected expenses.

The main aim of the project discovery stage is to test your ideas, implementing strategies, and speed of the product launch because mistakes made during the planning stage will cost you the most to fix later.

Therefore, we will explain to you the process based on our experience in developing a great product. The project discovery phase activities include:

Studying the organizational structure

All the stakeholders using the software including the ones who are designing and building it are the people who are going to get involved in this entire activity.

Establishing business goals

This activity helps you identify the main goal of your business to increase companies’ productivity or boost revenues and find solutions to any problem that needs to be addressed within this stage.

Interviewing Stakeholders

The project discovery phase team might have understood the team structure but it isn’t enough to begin. It is important to include all the people like CEOs, senior managers, and their take on the software project and to determine the project goals and achievements according to their requirements and needs.

Competitor Analysis

Market analysis gives you the ability to find the strengths and weaknesses of the product launched in the related niche, making your product stand out in the market. Therefore, identifying your niche will help you build an attractive product to engage customers by filling the gap that other products couldn’t.

Time and budget Estimation

Half of the battle is won with an accurate time and money estimation. With this accuracy, you will know how much money and time is needed to implement the idea into a complete product.

Creating a roadmap

The software development company and the client’s team together provide a complete project timeline with an overview of goals and deliverables. It is important as it helps you organize different aspects of launching a new product. It allows the client to keep an eye on the whole project despite many internal problems.

‘User’ research

In this stage, the expert team has to think like a user as to how they will interact with the product. It includes not just the interface but the features as well of the product. To find out the discovery stag might have to do user interviews, different surveys for making it easier for people to understand, the user needs as to why the software application is needed.

Work on the strategy

This stage takes out the step-by-step development strategies of turning the idea into a reality. Ensuring the tasks are performed with financial and time benefits. In short, hiring a team of developers should be cost-efficient.

The project team might increase depending on the project size and complexity but the discovery phase outline remains the same for the products of any industry.

The project discovery phase team

project discovery phase team

Another important factor that also determines the success of the project is the team that participates in the process. The complexity of your project will decide the experts required in it. Therefore, the roles and responsibilities will be divided equally.

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The project discovery phase team consists of:

Project Manager

A project manager is responsible for scheduling and arranging client meetings. It is in charge of making records of all the details discussed during the meetings and maintaining the productive engagement between the development team and the development team.

Business Analyst

A business analyst is responsible to look after the business analysis and market research, as well as the product’s market value. BA is responsible for identifying the main goal of the project and also monitoring the reporting and quality of the metrics. It also defines the functional and non-functional project requirements and lines up with business objectives.

UX/UI designer

A UX/UI designer is responsible for creating meaningful sketches, mockups, and wireframes that you can discuss with the stakeholders. A UX/UI designer, therefore, will create a digital interface, and its features on which the whole application will be built. It will provide a clear understanding of how the project will work and feel when finished.

The software developer

Software developers are responsible for technical solutions creating a development approach and sequence and giving estimates on the timeline. It will carry out additional research to ensure that the tech solutions used in the process are the best to solve clients’ technical challenges.

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

How long will it take to run a discovery phase?

The major part of the process takes place during this stage. Once the team has understood their role and responsibilities properly the project can be easily carried out. As the confusion will cause delays and disaster.

The project manager divides the project into five different phases of initiation, planning, execution, control, and closure. This phase bridges the gap between the two phases of initiation and execution. This will determine the understanding between the client and the development team and clarifying the issues.

This phase can last from few days to few weeks depending on the complexity of the project.

  • A small project can take up to 1-3 days.
  • A medium project can take up to 1-2 weeks.
  • A large project can take up to 3-4 weeks or more.

After this process, the billing is carried out depending on the model and hourly rates of all the members involved in the development team.

Discovery phase deliverables and benefits

The main outcome of the project discovery phase is the outcome that which is the time and estimation and a detailed plan. The deliverables may vary depending on the project size, complexity, phases, and urgency.

Following are the gains of the project discovery phase:

  • A fully structured plan of roles and responsibilities providing accurate time estimation and deadlines based on real facts or expert research.
  • It establishes a comprehensive high-level project roadmap with interim goals leaving no reason for further rescheduling or alterations.
  • Regular communications and in-depth discussion will build trust and gives you the freedom to change the vendor if necessary.
  • The discovery stage provides the best-suited technical solutions according to the project.
  • It provides the blueprint of the technical design. You will have an entire process in your hand ready for coding.
  • Accurate price estimation for the whole project.
  • A clickable prototype based on wireframes and final product design representing the flow and functionality of the application.
  • Preparing a cost proposal for larger development cost involved in the development of the entire software project.
  • It forms closed business processes and optimizing the development cost.
  • Planning the project according to the companies budget and efficient usage of time, human and financial resources.
  • The company will avoid any uninvited business risks from the beginning.
  • It gives the potential to immediately test the product on the end-users.

The project discovery phase is not an option anymore but it has become a requirement for IT projects to succeed. It gives you a complete idea about the product and the stages included in the development process for it to build within a specific timeframe and budget.

Spending time and money in this phase is better than sabotaging the whole idea. The project discovery phase ensures the company, that nothing will prevent them from achieving their goal.


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A project discovery phase is an easy and efficient way to avoid any problems that can hold the whole process in the future. If ignored you will end up spending more and delaying the launch.

Effective project management can ease the whole process as you will understand the whole process. Having a firm grasp of the requirements, scope and resources results in proper estimation and ensures a significant reduction in the software development budget.

In other words, the discovery phase saves time and money, and if you find the right software partner the process becomes even easier. Ignoring this phase will do the opposite.

Third rock techkno has vast experience in helping programming teams and identifying core strengths and drawbacks of the company for the upcoming project giving you a complete idea of what the outcome will be of the project.

Therefore, Third rock techkno and its services provide you with the best team according to your requirements resulting in shorter development time and lower development costs. Our expert team will help you build a project roadmap.

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