Whether you have an idea for building a mobile app, or you need to build complex internal software in a large corporation, all great digital products should be built from a solid foundation. This means gaining a deep understanding of your business needs, what problem or opportunity you’re trying to solve, an idea of your users behaviours and preferences and the value that the product will add.
The very best digital products are built following a tried and tested approach and product development methodology. We’d argue that that initial planning and definition stages are the most important and that’s why we always recommend all of our clients, regardless of size or type of project, to start with a product discovery workshop.
What is a product discovery workshop?
A product discovery workshop allows both the client and the product development team to gain a clear shared understanding and vision of what the product is and what you’re trying to achieve. We explore any existing ideas, your business model and your customers to get a holistic view of the opportunity.
We’ve developed our own product discovery methodology after years of implementing it through projects of various sizes and scope. From small MVP’s for start ups to gain investment, to large complex enterprise software systems, they all share the same discovery approach.
It is also a great way to make sure that all stakeholders are on the same page and expectations for the product are set from the very beginning. It's really an information gathering exercise that will allow a product development team to ensure that the right digital product will be developed to meet your core business goals.
Why Is It Important?
Each product will vary massively in terms of scope, features, budgets and timelines. There are a huge number of variables that can change in any given project and that’s why we need to understand every aspect of your business goals, ideas, core functionalities, technologies and any existing technologies you use. Often, clients come to us with an idea of what they need to build, however there will always be elements that they have not even considered or thought of. This is where these ideas can be ironed out and explored in more depth.
The main objectives of running product discovery workshops are:
- To help define the overall scope of the product
- To define a comprehensive list of product features and requirements
- To define the goals for your product and what it needs to achieve to be successful
- To ensure all stakeholders are at a shared place of understanding
- To define the overall budget needed to deliver the product
- To create a high level solution at the end of the process that meets all your core needs
What happens during a discovery session?
The product discovery stage is where you, as the client, get to meet the team and get your sleeves rolled up and involved in the process. You know your business better than anyone, and will be able to provide really valuable insight into the vision of the product, your core users and their preferences and what kind of functionality you would like to see.
We’ll assemble our cross functional team, typically consisting of a range of team members with different expertise areas. This normally includes a product owner, a project manager, software engineer (s), UX designers and QA engineers. Having a range of different skillsets in the workshops allows the whole team to get a holistic view of the projects and can incorporate different perspectives. This is really important as it means everyone is involved right from the beginning and has a shared understanding of how the product development process will work.
You’ll also get an insight into how we work with agile methodologies and how we can work together to build something brilliant.
Depending on the size, complexity and nature of the product, our discovery workshops can really vary depending on a number of different factors. We normally run our product discovery workshops over a couple of half day sessions (we’ve learned that doing full days can get exhausting quickly and lead to burn out by mid afternoon!). We’ve taken the opportunity to list some of the different product discovery elements most of our clients are likely to encounter during these sessions:
Product vision and purpose
Having a clear product vision and purpose is the very first step. We will work with you to extract as much information as we can about your vision for the product, your goals and success metrics, your brand and identity and how the product will fit in with that and we will even look at any potential competitors you made admire in the market place.
Identifying all this information gives everyone a solid foundation of where to begin. We can then look at how we can work with you to help you achieve this vision and provide you with our guidance and expertise Into particular market segments, what works and what doesn’t work in any competitor apps and how we will work with you to achieve this.
Target audience & persona definition
After delving into your product vision and purpose, it’s time to help you define your user personas. These personas are essentially a realistic, hypothetical user of your product who will all have different needs, resources and use cases. In some cases, there can be multiple personas that the product will need to cater for in order for it to be successful. Defining personas is really important as it helps our team to understand how a customer or user is likely to interact with your product.
Customer journey mapping is a high level visual representation of how (or how you will expect) users to interact with your product. It takes into consideration all touchpoint and is used a way to help explore how people interact with a product and what features should be kept or removed. We take time to look at each action or event that influences a user journey and will discuss improvement opportunities and how to come up with the ultimate user journey to meet your needs.
User story mapping
User story mapping is another visual exercise that we use that helps our team define the features and scope of work that will create the best user experience. It’s a collaborative process that encourages stakeholders to visualise a specific user journey. We consider the tasks that users would undertake throughout a specific journey and represent it visually on our user story map. Focusing on outcomes and goals instead of features helps our team to stay on track and helps everyone ensure we are prioritising the right functionality. All you need is some healthy debate and a few post its to kick start!
Technical exploration & recommendations
Technical decisions and any constraints are considered during the product discovery sessions. Our senior technical engineers can help guide you through this and recommend technical solutions for building your product. Whether it’s a native mobile application, a progressive web application or a complex enterprise system that has multiple dependencies and integrations - we will look at all of the available options to determine the best platform for you.
What happens after?
At the end of the process, we’ll be able to take all of this information and turn into a high-level digital solution. We’ll provide you with an extensive document that outlines key takeaways, timelines, budget and plans and a roadmap for development. It’s essentially a blueprint that you can use to either to take to investors to gain investment or to take back to business stakeholders to prove the value of the product before committing to the next stages of product design and development.