Orientating projects with a discovery phase
As we’ve previously discussed here at Conduct we are entirely focused on collaboration with our clients.
At the heart of that collaboration is our focus on ‘discovery’. It’s at the core of what we do, and orientates every one of our projects.
So what exactly do we mean by ‘discovery’?
For us, discovery zooms in on the two key components of project success:
- Pinpointing the business requirements for the product, and
- Learning everything we can about current customer behaviour
Charting the perfect course between these two will deliver a product which is not only frictionless, elegant and usable but also one that delivers true business benefit.
This may sound like the Holy Grail but is surprisingly achievable if the project team follow a methodical process.
The first step is a clear definition of business requirements.
Sometimes these may already be articulated in a statement of requirements, or at this stage may be more nebulous.
Whatever their fidelity the start point is a conversation.
Traditionally this conversation takes the form of a number of stakeholder interviews. This is still a perfectly valid approach, and one we often employ, but there are a number of other techniques in our toolkit, notably our RDV framework.
The bottom line is we are ready for any eventuality from unlocking new innovative ideas through to learning about those you have already unearthed.
It is very easy to get bogged down in technology discussions at this point. We know it is important to be technology agnostic at this stage and focus purely on the project goal, so at this stage we will be clear about the perceived problem space but completely open about the solution.
As our clients you may feel you have a clear idea of who your customers are. There is however no substitute for observation of and/or interviews with your customers to reveal the detailed customer interactions and motivations.
These sessions always uncover extra ‘gold’ which will either validate current thinking or give the opportunity to pivot accordingly to incorporate customer demand.
User engagement generally validates some business requirements, sometimes questions others and always surfaces new ideas. As a result the conclusion of initial user engagement is an ideal ‘stop and think moment’.
We reflect findings back to clients in a number of ways, choosing the most appropriate based on the size, scope and duration of the project and of course our client’s preference. Options range from an informal debrief through to a findings report.
Typically we love to share the ‘gold’ we have unearthed on your behalf, and to help shape the product roadmap. Findings also begin to help us with outline technology discussions.
Whatever the format of the reporting, the conclusion of the discovery phase acts as the bridge between the statement of requirements and the statement of work.
Setting the scene correctly with these documents answers most of the big project questions and gives a great picture on execution. In turn this means accurate estimations, a shared understanding with our client and a clear pathway to smooth project execution.