Discovery Projects: Strategies for Defining the Opportunity
At a certain point an idea can become so big that you need to invest in a small project to properly define the big one.
The objective of a discovery project is to define the goals & requirements, then narrow the "cone of uncertainty" enough so that the development process can begin on the right foot. This phase gives the customer a chance to gain valuable insight into their own needs, a deep investment in the project direction, and valuable trust in you as a business partner as you embark on a journey together.
During this session we will discuss several techniques and exercises to help you get to know your stakeholders and how to plan for a solution that truly fulfills their business needs. Even if you can’t get budget set aside for a full discovery phase, some of these techniques can easily be used on a project of any scale and worked into your early conversations.
If you are using agile methodologies during implementation, everyone still needs to be in agreement about what they are trying to accomplish and how to define success. The output of a discovery project can be used to inform the decision-making process within each sprint and reduce the number of surprises, mystery stakeholders, and out of left field blockers as development progresses.
Your ability to identify the key stakeholders and pinpoint the features that provide them the most value can be critical to the project's success and acceptance. You have to be able to put yourself in their shoes and ask the questions that even they haven’t thought of. You have to walk the line between listening and consulting. The intersection of your technical knowledge and the stakeholder’s institutional knowledge will define the “True North” for the project to come.
When working with a large business on complex projects such as portals or the modernization of business processes the number of variables can be overwhelming. Doing some of this up-front research can ease the worries of enterprise clients that require clearly defined objectives and set dollar amounts during the procurement process.
A good discovery will both inform you of your client’s needs, as well as give you the peace of mind that your team is being set up for success before the real project even begins. The client will be able to enter into the larger project with confidence in you holding the compass that will guide the project.