In our current digital era, businesses are being confronted with extreme competition, evolving technologies, pandemics, and other factors that cause 90% of start-ups and new products to fail (it is shocking, and it is true).
One way to save start-ups and new products from failure is by conducting a proper discovery phase. In this article, I will highlight three main aspects of a successful discovery phase and their benefits based on experiences from recent product implementations at Konabos.
Start with “Why”
The starting point of discovery should be: Why. Work with your team or your client to answer these questions: Why are we doing this? What is the problem we are solving, and why is it a problem? Why would our clients care, and why would they pay for this product/service?
The answers to these questions should be succinct, direct, measurable, and inspirational for building that new product or service. It should be written down and communicated with the team. Afterwards, your short-term and long-term goals would derive from those answers.
This will act as your north star, keep the team focused on what matters only, and reduces any noise that does not align with the “why.”
Additionally, having a clear “Why” (and clear goals as a result) makes work items prioritization easier, so the next time someone on the team suggests adding a new feature, you can go back and see if it fits your “why” or not.
Tip: Read “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek, and make your team read it!
Create a product roadmap
Successful discovery should include both short-term and long-term plans of the product. Product managers should focus on the MVP benefits and features, and at the same time highlight additional benefits that the product could offer to the customers.
It is important to keep it high-level because at this stage there are so many uncertainties, and you are trying to nail down the product-market fit. Set an inspirational vision and interesting future product features to make the team look forward to getting the MVP out of the way so they can build more exciting stuff in the next releases. This keeps your team and your clients positively engaged throughout the product’s life cycle.
Also, a clear product roadmap helps to identify major dependencies and risks so that plans can be made to manage them sooner than later.
It is crucial to show your client or customers rough mock-ups of the MVP ideas during the discovery phase. Low-fidelity mock-ups presented early in the project go along in communicating ideas and getting alignment before committing to building any features.
This helps to achieve your discovery goals faster. We have proved this during a recent mobile app implementation, where we were able to save 1 week from a 3-week discovery phase by creating Low-fidelity mock-ups to gather our client’s feedback on the MVP features.
Also, low-fidelity mock-ups at this stage serve as clear requirements for the design and development team where many questions would be fleshed out and answered as early as possible.
To sum up, the discovery phase increases the chances of a product’s success when it is done right. Every new company, new product/service, or new consulting project should always start with a discovery phase, where - in addition to other elements - the “Why” is clearly defined and communicated to the team.