Moving from discovery to development

To get a product market-ready your business needs to undergo a comprehensive discovery and development process. There needs to be a balance between the two which is rarely a priority for businesses.

An equal amount of resources and time need to be dedicated to a thorough discovery process which identifies the problem your product is trying to solve, and the development process which helps bring your idea to life.

If you spend too long on discovery then you risk never getting your product to market. If you spend too little time on discovery then you’ll develop a product that could well be useless and not meet any user needs.

Ultimately, what you discover will inform what you end up developing.

Discovery places our assumptions under the microscope and provides a workable UI/UX design to move forward with, while development takes this design, builds on it and delivers it to users.

Discovery informs development

The discovery phase of any project informs how your business will proceed with development. Without proper discovery, there can be no development.

It’s an iterative process that determines the market need for your product, and it’s aim is to answer two fundamental questions, ‘what to build’ and ‘whom to build it for’.

With such a strong emphasis on usability in the initial stages, teams often overlook the utility of their product. This means that businesses can end up with a solution that’s easy to use, but has no real use. By conducting a thorough discovery process, you’ll ensure that what you create provides value to your users and addresses real issues that they are experiencing.

Here at 6B, we take a three pronged approach to discovery – through user research, user testing, and rapid prototyping. When combined, these different phases of our discovery process help to achieve two primary objectives: a user-focused solution that delivers real value, and a viable solution that can be developed for market.

Continuity is key

To create a frictionless transition from discovery to development, it’s vital for the development team to be heavily involved during the discovery phase.

If the development team isn’t involved and they receive a handover from another team, all of the insight and hard work undertaken during discovery is at risk of being undermined. Your business will likely end up with a solution that’s easy to use, but that has strayed too far from the original focus of your users and doesn’t align with what they want or need.

The best way to stop this from happening is to ensure a cross-functional team work continuously on discovery alongside development. This ensures that developers are engaged at every phase of the project and have the necessary context they need. This level of consistency will help keep your insights derived during discovery at the forefront of everyone’s minds and prevent features from being signed off without the approval or input of developers.

Continuous roadmapping

One of the main characteristics of an agile work environment is flexibility. It allows your business to pivot and adapt to changing requirements and needs, which is inevitable during projects of this size.

But this doesn’t mean that everyone should be left to their own devices without a loose structure in place to follow.

Another key factor in easing the shift from discovery to development is the use of continuous roadmapping. It doesn’t have to follow a linear route to your end goal, in fact 6B would actively discourage against this. Rather it should incorporate the various avenues your team will take to help you achieve what you want to with your final product.

If your product is roughly going to take a year to get to market, then you don’t have to plan out a year’s worth of work in a roadmap. We know this is too restrictive and doesn’t account for the many variables you’ll encounter along the way. But you should try to roadmap snapshots of your project, say six weeks at a time.

This will ensure everyone remains on the same page with deadlines and aware of work that requires immediate attention to address any shortcomings that could mean missing deadlines. Roadmapping this way also gives you the flexibility to change track and regularly reassess the direction of your project, to accommodate for an agile way of working.

The minimum viable product

Once the discovery phase has been completed, you and your team should have a strong idea of what your minimum viable product (MVP) looks like. Strip your product down to the bare minimum set of features you’ll need to release and agree on this as a team.

Agreeing on this as a team in advance will help you ensure that discovery doesn’t overrun with an endless stream of research and testing, and that your product gets in front of your end users sooner rather than later.

Follow these four steps to help devise your MVP:

  • Make your assumptions explicit: decide which assumptions must be true for your product to succeed, then determine a way to prove and design these assumptions quickly.
  • Prioritise your assumptions: work out which of your assumptions require the most time and resources, and allocate accordingly.
  • Your MVP is precisely outlined: essential and non-essential features of your product have been designated and are known and agreed upon by the whole team.
  • Development is MVP focused: the entire development process is geared towards getting your MVP to market as quickly as possible so you can begin learning from user experience.

Do you need help bridging the gap between discovery and development?

6B have a wealth of knowledge to draw on when transitioning from the discovery phase to development, and how the two inform each other.

If you’d like to know more about our strategic advisory services, reach out and a member of our team will be in touch.

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