Discovery Phase in The Software Development Process – Key Deliverables

Surprisingly, having an idea is not enough. To turn it into a successful project, you have to go through a round of considerations and analytics. Have you ever been in a situation when you had this fantastic idea that you thought will change the world but the product was unneeded in the end? Did it happen that you spent way much more money than you expected? Or change the whole project midway because you realized you need different features?

You could avoid that by going through the discovery phase, one of the most important project development process steps. In this phase, you can analyze the information and define your goals, architecture, timeline, and budget more clearly. If you want to know when exactly you need the discovery phase and what are these key deliverables, keep on reading!

When Do You Really Need a Discovery Phase?

The answer is always. You should check whether your idea is needed, outline the architecture, and decide upon the budget upon facts, not extremely rough estimation.

However, there are projects that not many but must have a discovery phase. Such cases are:

You Have an Idea, Not a Product Vision

We tend to jump straight into something and figure the end result later because we are extremely inspired and energized – there is no time for overthinking. However, this inspiration and energy are not likely to lead to a great project if you do not think about small details prior to the realization. Without a discovery phase in a project, you will later change the product too often. The team will be confused. Consequently, you will spend more time and may never get there in the end.

Many Minds – One Project

If you have many stakeholders and inspired people on the team, you may notice that they see the product differently. You may all have the same idea and goal but there are more ways of achieving it. Therefore, you need to have a common vision of everything. A discovery phase is better for negotiations than any other one.

Overly Complicated Projects

You have to go big for big projects. There are way too many aspects to control in complex projects and if you try to organize them during the execution phase, you are likely to forget something or lose track of everything.

You Need a Win

When your company is close to bankruptcy, you need an idea that will save it. Do not rush this idea to create a savior as soon as possible – plan everything out. Otherwise, a savior can become your villain.

Key Deliverables of The Discovery Phase

A project discovery phase is a complex phase that determines your success. It has several subtasks and activities in it. Let’s take a look.

Mind Map

The discovery phase of the project starts with a mind map. Mind mapping is about putting your idea in the center and going from there. You break down something big to something smaller and keep on adding new ideas as you go. After you are finished, look at the map and add or delete some ideas.

With mind mapping, you can get out of every association that you have with the project. During the flow of thinking, you may come up with ideas or aspects that you would normally never think about. However, these aspects may make a huge difference or add uniqueness to your software that will define the success of it.

It also builds a more detailed roadmap of the project. So you can check completed tasks off or refer to the mind map if you feel like you have lost the direction in which you want the project to go.

You may use a whiteboard or an app. An app is more useful right now since you cannot gather near the board in the office.

Clickable Prototype

When you have all your features and design ideas mind mapped and chosen, you can create a clickable prototype. You see, ideas may sound good on paper but harder to implement or they may turn out not as good as you have imagined it to be.

If you want to test everything that you have in mind without putting too much effort into it, create a clickable prototype. It looks close to the finalized version and you can interact with it, however, it is still cheap and drafty.

At this stage, you can try out what works and what does not so that when you start working on the project, you do not add or delete features. It will be more expensive to do later.

Software Requirements Specification

The next step in the project discovery phase is the software requirements specification. It is a final roadmap of the project. You state clearly functional and non-functional requirements and write extremely specific elements so that you do not forget anything.

Based on those elements, you can give tasks and control that everything is being done. Miscommunication is less likely to happen if everyone has access to a full roadmap and that roadmap defines every small step of the project.

Approximate Budget & Time Estimation

If you have a defined roadmap with every single detail and future task written down, you can estimate now how much money and time you and your employees will need. You will see a real amount of work that has to be done and it will be actually visualized on the paper or in the document instead of having it all in your head.

However, keep in mind that budget and timing are agile and may change up a little bit because of unpredictable changes, force majeure, human factor, etc. Still, it will be more realistic than the one you had before the discovery stage.


A discovery phase will help you to define clear goals, end product features, and design, and tasks you need to do. Moreover, it will save you from numerous changes, budget, and time expansions. If you want to get all of the benefits of the discovery phase, do not hesitate to contact us. The discovery phase was never easier!

About the Author

Sandra Manson is a blogger, a journalist at, and just an ambitious writer. She always enjoyed covering numerous topics from politics to eSport, so she decided to make writing her career.

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