Accelerate the Discovery Phase

Software delivery and transformation projects are complex, expensive and time consuming. It is important that resources are spent judiciously to look at the most important problems that will yield the right outcomes for businesses and users.

Before we start delivering software, to get a good lay of the land is extremely useful to know what are the right problems to solve, what could be the approach to solve them and if the project should move to the next stage of software development at all. This stage of information-gathering to understand the “as-is” state of business, value proposition, users, constraints etc. is what is referred to as the Discovery stage.

A well thought out and executed ‘Discovery’ process can help uncover the key pain points to understand the current value proposition and assess how the work happens. It can take several weeks to months to uncover various aspects of a product. What could really help is a way to accelerate this Discovery phase. If one can quickly identify if this is the right product to undertake further assessment or what are the main problem areas to focus on, that itself can do a lot of cost savings and expedite the process of Discovery.

With that goal in mind, I want to introduce a ‘Discovery canvas’ to have a fast paced, collaborative, concise yet a holistic approach to look at various areas of the Discovery process i.e. business, product management, team, engineering and constraints. This canvas doesn’t replace the need of doing an in-depth research or sitting together with the teams to see things in action. Instead, it helps to collaborate with the client / product team to come up with a 360 degree view in a short span of time to see if this is the right project to undertake or if it needs further assessment to come to a decision.

Discovery Canvas

With my teams, we tried experimenting with this canvas with several clients. They have been very pleased with the outcome of the canvas workshops. Getting all that knowledge in front of their eyes in a matter of a couple of hours was highly insightful. The outcomes helped us to find the key areas to focus earlier in the process and plan the future course of action. In cases when we had a few product candidates to evaluate, it helped to identify the right candidate to undertake transformation or product development.

Here is a filled up canvas of a sample product that provides real time data and insights that helps the sales team of a cosmetic brand to do more efficient and targeted sales.

A sample filled up Discovery Canvas

In the subsequent posts of this series, I will share more details on:

  • How you can run a Discovery canvas workshop?
  • How to use the outcome from your canvas to take informed decisions?
  • Some tips to get the best returns from your canvas.

I would be glad to hear your ‘Discovery’ stories and what you do to get a head start?

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Product Manager, Lead Consultant @ Equal Experts | Father (of Violet and Jack-Jack )

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Munish Malik

Munish Malik

Product Manager, Lead Consultant @ Equal Experts | Father (of Violet and Jack-Jack )

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