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Business Discovery Workshops: How to Ensure the Successful Kick-Off of Your Software Project

31 Aug 2022

software product discovery workshop
When you come up with a project idea that seems great to you, you want to get it going as soon as possible because in your mind you already see the outcome. However, by getting too caught up in these thoughts, you may end up overlooking numerous important factors that can be decisive in the success of your project.

As good as your idea sounds to you and your team, you should be realistic about it and make level-headed decisions regarding the steps you need to take to get your idea off the ground. This is where discovery workshops come in to help you in your journey. Whether it is with your in-house tech team or an offshore software development company, make sure not to undermine the importance of this step, preferably under the guidance of qualified professionals (business development directors, product designers, tech leads, etc.).

What is a Business Discovery Workshop? 

A business discovery workshop is basically the building block of your project planning and implementation. The main purpose of a discovery workshop is to carefully and thoroughly define the scope and goals of your project as well as to determine the deliverables expected from all teams involved. 

As an indispensable part of your project implementation planning, a well-organized business discovery workshop will help you, your project team, and everyone else involved delve deep into the nuances of the project scope and steer the development process in the right direction. 

Regardless of the type of your project, be it a custom software tool for internal use in a large corporation, or a mobile app that targets your consumers’ needs, or any other digital product, its development should by all means start with a business discovery workshop. This is especially important for startups or companies with tight budget constraints who simply cannot afford to end up with a failed project. 

What are the Objectives of a Business Discovery Workshop? 

The main goal of a software product discovery workshop is the evaluation of the project scope. The objectives, though, are no less important. Let’s have a look at some of them: 

   - Determining the project purpose

   - Drafting the core features and functionalities of the product

   - Defining the target audience, the user personas, and mapping the user journey

   - Stating the value proposition

   - Deciding upon the project development timeline

   - Setting the metrics for success or the KPIs (key performance indicators) 

   - Drafting and finalizing a product specification document

Why is It Crucial to Carry out a Software Product Discovery Workshop? 

The importance of a business discovery workshop cannot be stressed enough. However, if you are not quite familiar with the production of a software project, we have made a list of the main reasons that make a discovery workshop a must-do. 

1. Putting Your Ducks in Order 

As noted above, a great idea is not enough. This is especially true if you lack the needed knowledge about what’s going on in the market - what if there are already a ton of software solutions similar to the one you want to have? What if the consumers are happy with the existing ones? Have you thought about what your solution will offer that the others don’t already? 

Or maybe your idea is to build a certain enterprise software application for your internal affairs. Are you sure you have all the aspects covered and under control? There is so much to think about - third-party integrations, multiple user roles, instant messaging, real-time analytics, etc. 

Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? There is definitely much more to any idea that business owners come up with. It is totally natural to miss certain aspects or overlook them when you get deeper into the chaos of it all. That’s why you should carry out a discovery workshop with the right specialists in order to shape your idea into a tangible product. It will help you see through the smoke and define your goals and expectations more precisely. 

2. Letting the Project Unfold

Experienced software development companies that have gone through the process of software project production multiple times, know from the start the information they need as well as the information that you may need. However, no two projects are ever the same, which is why preliminary discussions are so important. 

Business Discovery Workshops
A business discovery workshop allows you and your project team to ask one another as many questions as possible and watch the project unfold in ways you could not imagine. This way almost all aspects of the development life cycle will be covered, saving you both time and resources. 

3. Aligning with Your Goals 

A business discovery workshop puts everything in place and provides a structured roadmap that highly simplifies a project that seemed extremely complex at first sight. When you have precise project requirements defined, you can easily determine whether they align with your goals or not. 

4. Prioritizing

Through a discovery workshop you can identify potential challenges by discussing those aspects of the project that are unclear. Above all, you can make sure that the project is completed within the set deadlines or even earlier because the core functionalities will be highlighted and prioritized. 

In a nutshell, a business discovery workshop helps you be on the same page with all the project stakeholders as well as with the tech team. It ensures that your development team shares the same perspective with you and will not end up delivering a product that doesn’t align with your goals. 

What are the Benefits of a Business Discovery Workshop?

The short answer would be the months of work condensed in a single workshop lasting from one to three days. The long answer, however, cannot be condensed into a single sentence. Let’s see what benefits these workshops actually bring to the table: 

   - Faster Product Development: Your investment in a 1- to 3-day workshop can actually increase your production speed by weeks. When you and your tech team are on the same page about the product to-be-built, and have specified its goals, features and functionalities, creating a detailed product development plan becomes a walk in the park. With the right plan and timeline your tech team is always in the know of what needs to be done and can take their time to deliver everything within the set deadlines. This can highly ease the whole process and minimize the possibility of force majeure. 

   - Business Growth: Your business discovery workshop agenda should also give you a chance to go through your business’ pain points, obstacles you are facing, and other potential issues that can arise during the development process. Everyone involved in the workshop needs to know not only your project details, but also the general and certain specific aspects of your business that can possibly impact the production. This way, your tech partner will identify all the possible risks and problems and be able to come up with efficient solutions early on - way before the issues occur. Keep in mind that an offshore tech team is not just a service provider. It’s a business partner whose purpose is to develop a product that aligns with your business goals and contributes to your business growth in the long run. 

   - Overall Cost  Reduction: Your product development cost depends on a number of factors. You need to take the majority of these into consideration otherwise you risk overspending. The cost can especially be affected by the amount of and the type of the features and functionalities that you want to implement in your product. A business development workshop singles out all the needed features and functionalities, leaving out those that do not match your product goals. This way you avoid the possibility of paying for the development of features that your software does not need. Thus, you save money and safeguard yourself from unexpected needs arising when the development has already started. 

   - Knowledge Sharing: During a product discovery workshop you get to know the team that will work on the development of your software. You may not necessarily meet the whole tech team but knowing the team leads, the business development team, and other decision-makers can make the much-needed difference. They will bring fresh ideas and views from a different angle to the table that might well help you understand your own goals and needs much better.  

   - Clearly Defined Project Roadmap: When the software product discovery workshop is completed, you will have a clearly structured document that includes its results, key takeaways, planning, timelines, and other crucial aspects of the discussions you had with your tech partner. It is both a blueprint that holds all the details of your project and a well-structured plan that is vital for the successful development and release of your software.

What are the Odds of Project Failure, Should You Want to Bypass a Software Product Discovery Workshop? 

In general, diving head first into a business project, without carefully evaluating risks and rewards, generally sets you up for failure. Great ideas and excitement about their possible results are not enough. Even having the needed budget is not going to help you if you don’t know how to use it wisely. 

Especially if you are a newbie in the tech world and have decided to execute your idea of a software solution without consulting professionals, you are fighting a losing battle. 

Let’s take a look at some of the risks that can arise from bypassing a product discovery session.

1. An Inaccurate Assessment of the Resources Needed for Your Project Implementation

As much as the digital landscape and the available technologies evolve and come up with better solutions for our software needs, things don’t get any simpler. In fact, the modern tech world has become quite complex and multilayered. 

Thinking that you know the exact technologies that are needed for the development of your product can result in a wrongful estimation of the project implementation costs.

Even if your idea is as simple as it gets, without discussing it with those who are going to develop it, you cannot know for sure what technology is needed for its implementation.

Skipping the business discovery workshop, you might end up with an unfinished or abandoned product. When you don’t have close-to-precise project cost estimation, halfway through the project you may find out that you are short of finances and can no longer fund the project development. 

2. A Product Built to No Purpose

Before you jump into the project development process, have you made sure the product you are making is actually what consumers need? Aren’t there similar products that have already taken over the market? What new features can you offer? 

It’s highly crucial to evaluate the market potential of your product way before the development process. While a discovery workshop doesn’t usually provide you with a market validation, it will help you define your ideas better with an improved precision of all the components. Additionally, the workshop will guide you in your market validation journey through a prototype or an MVP. 

3. An Absolute Fiasco

Imagine the many misunderstandings that can arise both within your in-house team and with the tech partner when you fail to present a detailed roadmap of your product. To make things worse, you also skip the discovery workshop which is your chance to have a more realistic look at your product and its possible implementation. 

Let’s put this straight: no one is going to read your mind. The way you imagine your project might not be the way it can be or needs to be implemented. If you don’t take into consideration the opinions of other specialists and don’t put down the features and the project plan on paper, you risk experiencing an absolute fiasco. 

As intimidating as this sounds, it’s better than sugar-coating the whole process. When you know the risks, you can implement risk mitigation strategies and avoid them in the future. In this case, a business discovery workshop can become the best risk mitigation strategy you could have at the initial stage of your project development. 

When the whole team, onshore or offshore, is in tune with the project goals and implementation techniques, you have much better chances of getting the product that your business needs (the product you want is not always what your business needs). 

Parting Thoughts

Now that you have learnt about the crucial importance of a business discovery workshop, you can plan your next steps with way more confidence than ever. Our experienced team is ready to lend a helping hand whenever you need. Feel free to contact us anytime - let’s plan the future of your business together. 

Sona Dabaghyan

Content Writer

Sona, a content writer at VOLO, with a track record spanning over 5 years in the writing and editing industry, delivers high-quality, engaging, and informative content, including blog posts, guest posts, e-books, and case studies for the company. In addition to her writing skills, Sona also does translations from Armenian to English and vice versa.

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