Lean App Development: Discovery

Originally posted on Biznas.io/blog

Venturing into the Unknown

Discovery is an interesting step, like QA it is often forgotten, rushed, or not taken seriously. However, the better job you do in discovery, the faster and easier design and development will be.

Our most successful projects are always the ones where we’ve taken the time to fully understand the project idea from the perspective of the client, users, designers, and developers. Discovery, as the name implies, is about asking the right questions to uncover the true value your app needs to deliver.

The goal of discovery is to take the project idea and flesh out all the user requirements, while also aligning all stakeholders around the key deliverables of the finished product. Discovery involves a detailed review of users and their requirements, the associated technical requirements, and concludes with wireframes of each page/screen.

During discovery we cement the scope, budget, and timeline for the project, and make sure all stakeholders are aware of and in agreeance with project plan. This allows both Biznas and our clients to move forward together and mitigates the chances of scope creep or wasted design/development efforts.

Below is a diagram of the process we follow and the stakeholders involved at each step:

What comes out of discovery?

There are two key assets that come from discovery.

The first is wireframes. These are low fidelity sketches/drawings created by a designer that showcase all the elements needed on each screen/page of the app. It can be hard to imagine what an app might look like just from reading user stories, so having something tangible for everyone to look at helps clear up uncertainty and keep everyone aligned. If needed, we produce multiple iterations of the wireframes until everyone is happy.

The second key asset is the discovery document.

The discovery document highlights the key aspects of the project:

  • Project Overview
  • Application Overview
  • Technology Overview
  • Technical Uncertainties
  • Timeline & Collaboration
  • Budget
  • Delivery Schedule

What is technical discovery?

It’s the technical overview that is completed by a software architect. That is, someone with many years of software development experience who can use their experience to plan the technical structure of the app.

The architect will take all the information gathered during discovery and plan out the frontend and backend technologies which will best serve the needs of the app. As software changes rapidly, this may include researching how new technologies can be incorporated to allow the app to provide advanced functionality.

Once technical discovery is complete the timeline, budget, and resource allocation is relatively simple. And you end with a discovery document and wireframes that all stakeholders can sign off on to allow the project to move onto the next phase: Design.