Discovery Phase Deliverables: Where to Start

Maria Boyarko

Maria Boyarko

Head of the Business Analysis Department

Business Analysis
Aug 25, 2022
Lesedauer: 6 Min.
  1. What is a project discovery phase?
  2. Business challenges the discovery phase solves
  3. Deciding on the product’s feasibility
  4. Estimating the cost and timelines
  5. Reaching an agreement
  6. Discovery phase deliverables
  7. Vision and Scope document
  8. Design Concept
  9. Architecture Vision
  10. Project plan and budget
  11. How to make the discovery phase even more effective
  12. Wrapping up

Statistically, nearly half of business owners consider poorly collected requirements to be the reason why projects aren’t completed on time. Moreover, about half of software products cost customers more than expected. Therefore, when starting an IT project, having precise estimations of its duration and cost based on accurately elicited requirements is essential. These are reflected in discovery phase deliverables. Read on to learn what results Andersen’s skilled Business Analysts provide to our customers after the completion of project discovery to substantially streamline the work on their projects.

What is a project discovery phase?

When just starting their software development projects, business owners already know why they need them and have a general vision of what they want to create. Nonetheless, it’s recommended that they start any of their initiatives with a discovery phase. This is true when developing corporate accounting systems, online stores, or mobile apps; working on internal projects and ones involving contractor teams; creating startups or new functional modules in existing enterprise software, etc.

The research stage generally lasts from two to six weeks and offers the following results:

  • Clear and full business vision of the resulting product;
  • Architectural vision of the product;
  • Preliminary project plan.

Project discovery phase deliverables help clarify further development, mitigate risks, create a consistent and holistic vision of the product, and allow stakeholders to find common ground.

Business challenges the discovery phase solves

Below are the three most significant difficulties that are overcome during the research stage.

Deciding on the product’s feasibility

Sometimes, the products that seem the most promising at the beginning turn out to be a real disaster after they’re implemented. Software development is expensive, and companies spend millions on products that don’t pay for themselves. The discovery phase helps customers understand whether or not to embark on the development and in what way it should be implemented to be successful and profitable.

Estimating the cost and timelines

According to McKinsey’s research, 45% of software development projects overshoot budget, 7% of them run over time, and 56% of them deliver less value than predicted. This happens due to a lack of planning that precedes development.

When launching a new project, every top manager wants to have a well-thought-out plan. It’s hard to imagine that one wants to create a software product so much that its cost and timelines don't matter to them.

However, no one can make estimations of an abstract idea. To make accurate estimations, a software development team needs a detailed vision of a product and a clear understanding of its technology stack. The more vague the project requirements are, the more time and money the customer will spend on it. Stating a clear project scope and limitations allow for the optimal price-quality balance.

Andersen's experience proves that Agile discovery phase deliverables provided in a professional manner decrease the project budget and save customers an average of 25% of its total cost.

Reaching an agreement

Misunderstandings among the project’s participants can cost customers substantial amounts of money and lead to many sleepless nights for the product team. Remarkably, sometimes business owners spend about half of the total project cost to rework the solution. This might be needed due to insufficient requirement elicitation resulting in a vague project scope and an unclear understanding of it by the stakeholders. Therefore, before diving into the development, it’s good practice to bring into alignment stakeholders’ ideas regarding the product and document them.

Discovery phase deliverables

Every project is unique and so is its discovery phase. At Andersen, we have launched over a thousand projects and formed our proven approach based on our successful experiences. The key deliverables that our experienced Business Analysts provide as part of our project discovery services are the following.

The key deliverables of a Discovery phase

Vision and Scope document

The document states a clear and consistent product vision that includes the following:

  • Business goals;
  • Key features;
  • Acceptance criteria;
  • Project scope;
  • Market opportunities;
  • User personas;
  • Glossary.

This deliverable is the foundation and starting point for any specialist who embarks on a project.

Design Concept

Having a clear product vision is a good start; however, the devil is in the details. The look and feel of a product are sometimes even more important for users than its functionality. No one will stick with an app that lacks user-friendliness, and the most worthwhile idea might fail due to bad implementation and weak user experience.

The Design Concept includes an understanding of who the users are, the way they think, and what software they need. The main section of the document includes wireframes that demonstrate the product's look and feel. After the Design Concept is created, it’s tested on real users. They confirm that the product is useful and convenient and that it is exactly what they need.

Architecture Vision

When a clear vision is developed of what the product will look like from the user perspective, an IT Architect designs its high-level internal structure and decides on the optimal technology stack to reduce costs while meeting all technical requirements.

The Architecture Vision includes, but is not limited to:

  • Technology stack;
  • Quality attributes and technical limitations;
  • Key architecture decisions that are going to influence the whole development process;
  • High-level application structure;
  • Infrastructure scheme.

Project plan and budget

Finally, estimations on the project duration and cost are made. These are reflected in the project schedule, roadmap,