You’ve decided to kick off a new technology project for your business. Sweet! It’s an investment that carries a lot of potential opportunity… and risk.
Success could increase your revenue, reduce your costs, and save you time. An unsuccessful project could have immeasurable costs, particularly for companies like yours that rely on tech as a big part of your overall business model.
It’s our responsibility to do everything possible to make sure that your projects are successful. While every project and business is different, we’ve learned a few key things the hard way. One of the things that proves its worth every time is strategically focusing on your business goals and needs - before starting to build. This sounds cliché but here’s what we mean:
We ask you about your BUSINESS problem and offer you a BUSINESS solution. Before talking about development or technology or process. What is it that is costing you money or not making you money? Ok, does everyone understand what it is? Cool, now let’s change that.
Sounds simple. It should be. For some reason, it’s really common to skip this and go straight to solutioning. Maybe if we give it a name, it’ll be taken seriously. Let’s call it Discovery
To us, discovery means exploring and pulling the unknown out into the light. A Discovery phase is a paid consulting engagement which comes before the part where you build the solution. The reason you might do it is to reduce or eliminate risk during the build, saving both time and money by avoiding costly mistakes.
Discovery can look like:
- a series of conversations between your team/customers and our team
- us diving in and checking out your current operational & technical systems
- us researching different options that might be a good fit for you
Discovery can result in:
- written documentation of our findings (discoveries)
- recommendations for the best method or approach to your solutions, including platform selection, systems architecture, apps, extensions, custom features, integrations, data engineering, and more
- technical solution requirements, roadmaps, planning resources to tee up the build phase
Here are some things we would try to nail down during Discovery:
- Business Goals, Opportunities, and Objectives
- Project Risks
- Who’s Involved (Stakeholders)
- Technical Unknowns
- Functional “Must Haves”
- Solution Definition
- Project Delivery Timelines
For projects with tight budgets and timelines, a Discovery might seem like an unaffordable luxury. We get it. Experience has taught us that even smaller projects can save time and money by thinking strategically upfront.
With the information collected, we can be confident in what’s being developed and the cost. Discovery doesn’t have to take a long time. We both want to cut as much overhead as possible, jumpstarting your project into action.
It’s easy to jump straight into building when you start on a project. It feels productive. Everyone loves shortcuts to save time. We’ve made that mistake before. The reality is that most times it will end up taking longer and being more costly this way.
What’s usually missing a realistic and informed plan. In this world of agile everything, planning gets a bad name. Being aware of the unknowns isn’t wasteful though. It lets you see speedbumps coming and avoid them.
Often business owners will come to us self-diagnosed and self-prescribed, seeking specific solutions. In these instances, it is our obligation as professionals to validate these assumptions.
We’ll start by understanding your business challenges. Only then can we turn that into a technical solution. The truth is, technology is always changing. Often there are many different ways to use technology in solving a problem. Sometimes technology isn’t needed at all. Sometimes a change in process will get you a better result. For these reasons, our ability to understand, diagnose, and solve your business problems will always be more important than our application of a specific technology. You don’t pay for the creation and application of technology - you pay to solve your business problems.
The Discovery process protects the much larger investment you are making in building a technology solution. Better planning leads to less expensive projects.
Other strategic partners might offer you “cheaper” projects without a formal discovery process. You need to ask yourself: “If we’re not doing a discovery process, can we trust the accuracy of the quote? Are we confident that this group really understands our needs? Can we trust that the proposed solutions address our goals? If not, do we believe a project without discovery will truly be cheaper long-term?”
Wondering how could Discovery help your business specifically? Let’s Chat