Is a Discovery Phase Important for App Development?

October 17, 2020
Evan Marsh

A significant number of information technology projects end up in bad shape. In the worst-case scenario, a nightmare project could spell the end for the company as a whole. How can we avoid projects with disastrous outcomes? What could businesses have done to prevent making these mistakes in the first place?

In mobile app development, one major way to catch issues and potential points of failure is to go through a discovery phase.

Discovery phases are vital for entrepreneurs and businesses before beginning a large project. This helps complete project development on time, without going over budget.

But what is a discovery phase, and why is it useful for businesses who want to make the right decisions around application development? Let us take a look at how to incorporate concept discovery into your own project plan.

What is a Discovery Phase?

Most projects involve initiation, planning, execution, launch, and maintenance phases.

When a project goes through all these phases, the chances for success are much higher. The first few stages of a project's plan are the most important. Following those first few phases reduces the risk of blowing past deadlines and budgets later.

To ensure that a project is successful, combine project initiation with a discovery phase. The discovery phase involves collecting, analyzing, and coordinating data around project viability and its target audience. This phase makes it possible to get clear understanding of the goals and limits of the project. It also makes it easier to identify issues or possible hiccups that can occur further down the road.

Is the Discovery Phase That Important for App Development?

Yes! The discovery phase is important for mobile app development. And crucial for virtually all businesses and niches that want to provide products or services.

The discovery phase is essentially a highly intense stage of research, and its purpose is to define the scope of the project. Along with that, it’s also a way for teams to remove a lot of the uncertainty involved in developing a new project. The communication and analysis involved in the discovery phase helps strengthen the project goal and determine a good direction for development. You simply can't identify 100% of potential problems you will face during development. Discovery gives you a road map that you can leverage to clear these hurdles as they come. Benjamin Franklin said it best: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

What Does a Discovery Phase Involve in App Development?

Discovery phases help to cut down total development costs and timelines, but they often involve several steps themselves. Following the below steps closely ensures teams will get the most out of the discovery phase.

1. Creating surveys for customer discovery

Market validation is an important and widely used process in business. It involves determining if your target market will enjoy and use your application. Validation will involve a lot of customer discovery, such as interviews with people in your target market, surveys, and determining the right audience for the product. Surveys are a great way to discover what customers want and if your product is a good fit. This is also vital for marketing and advertising purposes down the road.

2. Market analysis

Market analytics will often involve compiling data to understand the needs of the customer. There are a variety of ways to analyze customer data, from trend monitoring to utilizing machine learning. Customer data analysis can help the project team determine what the app should do for its users.

3. Define/redefine MVP

A minimum viable product, MVP, is an early application version, built around core features, for early users. A strong MVP allows teams to gather user data and cater further development to its user's needs. This level of customer analysis is crucial to continue re-aligning the product with customer needs.

4. Competitive analysis

Now that the team has labeled the potential users and their needs, it’s time to take a look at possible competitors. Understanding major competitors is key to a successful project. Even if development finished successfully, entering a market with competition requires planning. Analyzing competitors makes it possible to reevaluate the project and pivot to a solution that more directly solves the user's needs.

5. Revenue model

Every successful application needs a strong monetization strategy. During discovery, you must consider how the application generates income. One way to do this is to determine a potential revenue model and work to confirm it throughout the discovery phase.

6. Project planning

Project planning is arguably the most important part of the discovery phase. It refers to everything your team does to set your mobile app up for success, from conception to market. The project planning process establishes project objectives, scope, and task list. All of which are essential to have a successful development and launch. The customer and competitor data you have accrued throughout the discovery phase is used to aid in planning the project properly.

7. App prototyping

This is where the hardcore prototyping comes in. And where designers begin sketching and building wireframes. This is necessary for helping stakeholders visualize what the app will do as well as guide the team developing the app. The design phase makes it simple to source feedback from all involved parties.

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