Discovery Workshop: The complete guide to starting projects right

Discovery Workshop: The complete guide to starting projects right

By Prateek Saxena
October 9, 2019 5 min read
Last update on: October 9, 2019

What will you do if you want to renovate your house? 

Simple, you begin your search for a skilled interior designer. Someone who won’t just amp up your space but make it more cozy, and add an aesthetic value to it. 

Whenever we envision our dream house or think of redecorating our existing space, there are a couple of things that we have unknowingly charted out. From the palette of colours that the rooms will be a combination of, to that particular couch that will go so well with the walls of the living room. Be it the furniture, fabric, window treatments, tapestries or luminaries, all require a lot of thought. 

After all, your special project is no less than any business project.

You will dig up for inspiration on Pinterest, hunt through a myriad of portfolios, read a couple of case studies and finalize that one designer whose work appealed to you the most, particularly someone who is quite aligned with your budget and timeline. 

Of course, the designer that you have hired is highly skilled. But what do you do next, leave everything to him? 

Well, that’s one way to go about things. 

But what if the end result is nothing compared to what you have dreamt of?

Wouldn’t it be a total waste of time and money? 

Hence, it is essential to communicate to the designer your likes and interests, the items that appeal to you, and how you have visualized every nook and cranny of your house. It will help your designer streamline the entire process and deliver exactly what you want. 

This is where a Discovery Workshop comes into the picture.

Be it a special project, a business project or a digital product, it is crucial to conduct a discovery workshop. A Discovery workshop is not just about finding the right solution, it primarily facilitates a shared understanding between the team and the client. It is the ideal approach to set the right foundation and start off on the right foot.

More often than not, a product and its technicalities sound really simple at the start, but when it is in the development pipeline the complexities tend to resurface. A Discovery workshop outlines potential challenges in the very beginning and saves the project. 

What is a Product Discovery Workshop? 

A Discovery workshop is the most efficient way to handle any project. It is the initial interaction between the client and the project team, wherein both parties develop a shared understanding and mutually devise strategies to solve a particular problem. A Discovery Workshop is a part of the planning phase in the app development lifecycle. 

It not only aligns the project team, stakeholders and clients but also provides the opportunity to mutually explore the scope of an idea and steer the project in the right direction.

Elements of a Product Discovery workshop

By the end of a discovery workshop, we outline business goals and objectives and streamline the entire development process. 

Participating in a discovery workshop helps anticipate critical business challenges that may come up during the development phase. The development company charts out a roadmap which outlines how the end goals will be accomplished.

What are the key objectives of a Product Discovery Workshop?

A Discovery Workshop is conducted with the main aim to assess the scope of the project. Here are a few objectives that are significantly important:

Discovery Workshop : Venn Diagram

  1. Set SMART goals that need to be accomplished. 
  2. Define the purpose of the project.
  3. Outline the core functionalities of the product. 
  4. Establish the target audience, define user personas and map user journey. 
  5. Characterize the value proposition.
  6. Estimate the project timeline.
  7. Estimate the required budget to successfully develop the product.
  8. Define the metrics for success.
  9. Deliverable, particularly a Product Specification Document which streamlines the entire set of activities and processes. 

Who is it for? 

Whether you are a Startup keen on rapidly launching an MVP in the market or an established company looking to move beyond key functionality, tap on new features or release a new product, a Discovery workshop is the right choice for you. 

Regardless the project is big or small, a Discovery Workshop works for everyone. When building a small product, you may think of skipping the workshop, but we recommend you not to. Even with standard or minimum functionality, with a discovery workshop, you can discover new frontiers and efficiently build a product. 

With large projects and complex products, a discovery workshop is more like a necessity. It helps in defining every element, all the pertinent information regarding the project, assessing the scope of work for every phase and streamlining the entire project at once. Through a discovery workshop, we dive deep, turn challenges into opportunity statements and explore new avenues to tackle a problem. Big project implies more issues and you can overcome potential challenges in the very beginning through a discovery workshop. 

From our experience, sometimes when a client deems a project to be complex and outlines a big scope of work, a discovery workshop helps us identify that there is no need for too many functionalities. This reduces the scope of the project and cuts costs for the client. While in other cases, we unravel too many complexities as opposed to what was predicted which gradually increases the scope of the project. 

Why is a Discovery workshop so important? 

A Discovery workshop plays an instrumental role in transforming an idea into a reality. All the planning, scoping and streamlining is done in the very beginning to witness tangible results. 

From Discover to Deliver

Here’s a list that outlines why skipping this intensive workshop is a bad idea. 

  1. Discovery Workshops play a defining role in the success of any app.  No matter how great the idea is, a product can lose its value if enough thought is not given to it in the initial phase of development.
  2. All the necessary questions that may arise from both the parties during the app development lifecycle are answered in advance. It provides due clarity and saves a lot of time.
  3. Complex projects can easily be simplified through a workshop and it results in a structured roadmap.
  4. Through a Discovery workshop, you can map if the requirements are achieved and if your end product aligns with your goals
  5. It helps the project team arrive at a common ground even though they may have varying opinions. 
  6. A Discovery workshop ensures that the project is completed in the given deadline or in some cases even earlier, as the core functionalities are always prioritized.
  7. For any app development, across any platform, a discovery workshop has proved to be the best practice. It not only ensures that what you have envisioned turns into a reality but that too on a budget. It truly facilitates maximum utilization of resources.
  8. Through a  discovery workshop, you can streamline the entire development process, fully ensuring the client and stakeholders are abreast at every step of the way.
  9. A discovery workshop helps unravel discrepancies, identify potential challenges that may arise later and highlight project areas that lack clarity.
  10.  In certain cases, by running a discovery workshop, the initial concepts and ideas transition into an end product that is way better than what was visualized in the first place. 

Who all are involved?

If you are curious about who all will be a part of this workshop, it usually depends on the project and scope. A cross-functional team is allocated to you, which includes a Design Strategist, a Product Manager, Developer, Business Analyst, basically, a cross-functional team represents everyone. They ask probing questions to elicit the necessary information and give you invaluable insights to steer the project in the right direction. In a discovery workshop, we cover every element, every topic and look beyond the seemingly mundane to identify fresh perspectives. There is always a decision-maker present in the room and expert opinion on matters of utmost importance is a usual practice. 

Each person in the workshop brings value to the table and with the combined expertise you are bound to witness positive results in the long run.

Include real users 

During the discovery phase, a good amount of time must be spent on meeting and interacting with real users. Defining user personas, mapping user journeys is very insightful and shapes how the product will turn out. 

How long does the workshop last? 

Every digital product comes with a unique set of specifications and technicalities. A discovery workshop is customized for every business to provide maximum value and generate requirement based solutions. 

Some projects are so well-scoped that there is little room to fill in the gaps with pertinent information. While others come with a bare-bones idea, which requires a great deal to refine the idea and define the scope of the project.

These intensive sessions usually last from 2 to 4 days depending on the scope of the project and by the end, we have a structured roadmap to accomplish set milestones and goals.

Frequently Asked Questions in a Discovery Workshop

In a discovery workshop, we elicit necessary information from our clients and capture project requirements and functional specifications. We ask the right set of questions which leaves no scope for assumptions and disagreements. 

So if you have made your mind and are keen to springboard your idea through a workshop, here are some frequently asked questions that you should definitely go through in order to advance your approach.

1. Strategic 

  • What is the end goal of this collaboration?
  •  What is your vision and objective?
  • Who are your competitors and how does your product stand out?
  • What is your business perspective and what do you plan to accomplish? 
  • What measures shall we undertake to actively evaluate the success of the product?

2. User-centered

  • Who is the target audience?
  • What is the demographic of your user group?
  • What are the needs and interests of your users?
  • How do you solve their problem?
  • How will you map the user journey?
  • Which devices will the app run on?
  • What is the ideal platform for your app?
  • What are your concerns and challenges?
  • How can we ensure maximum user satisfaction?
  • How do we retain your users?
  • What are the key functionalities? 
  • Is there a scope for eliminating certain features?

3. Visual appeal

  • Are there any design references that you already have in mind?
  • Do you have any particular requirements regarding the look and feel of the app?

4. Miscellaneous

  • Is there any specific development framework that you want us to follow?
  • What’s your take on agile?
  • What is the preferred method of communication? Which tools shall we use to collaborate?

You may encounter questions on functionality, technicality and product management but even if you do not have answers for most of them, a discovery workshop provides you the platform to get acquainted with such concepts and explore such avenues collaboratively. 

What is the output of the workshop?

After successfully conducting a workshop, we move through large chunks of information, structure it thoroughly and arrive at a roadmap for your digital journey.  We provide a Product Specifications document that includes all important information, captures key takeaways and streamlines the entire process from start to finish. It provides due clarity to the client and assures that at any given point, we are on the same page. 

End Results of Discovery Workshop

A Product Specifications document majorly covers: 

  • Product vision and purpose
  • SMART goals and the primary aim of the product
  • Establish the target audience.
  • User personas, user flows, and user scenarios 
  • User Journey mapping
  • Design mood and visual vibe of the product.
  • Paper Sketches and Wireframes
  • Frameworks and tech stack
  • Project roadmap
  • Prioritized functionality
  • Budget and Timeline

Conclusion

Though a discovery workshop may seem like an added expense on the project’s budget, it is completely worth it. Kicking off a project with a discovery workshop ensures that the ride is smooth. It promises not just a set of deliverables but increases the chances of conversions. 

Prateek Saxena
Prateek Saxena
Co-founder of AppInventiv
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