Duration: 4-12 weeks
Team: 3-5 people
A product discovery phase helps teams identify solutions that are worth building by delving into real user problems and refining high-level solutions through prototyping and user testing. While product discovery should continue throughout the development lifecycle, it’s important to dedicate time and focus towards it in the early stages. This reduces the risk of developing a product that might not be valuable users, feasible to build, or viable to run. We help avoid these potential pitfalls by following a tried-and-tested, collaborative and evidence-based approach.
The first step is to quickly align the team by building a shared understanding and collective sense of purpose through facilitated workshops.
This helps reduce misunderstanding and misaligned expectations later down the line.
Activities might include:
You can’t build a product that people love, if you don’t understand the people who you’re building it for.
In this phase we focus on learning about the needs and constraints of your users, business, and technology through a variety of research and analysis techniques.
Who are they? Who aren’t they? What do they need? What would make them use your product over others?
What are the business objectives? Who supports or provides the service? What do they need? How does information flow across the organisation?
What is your existing tech stack? What are your dependencies? How are your teams organised? What is your path to live?
We start by identifying what you know already and then use the gaps, risks, and assumptions to inform what we need to dig into further. We keep our research lean, and do just enough to either fail fast, or increase our speed-to-market. We also favour speaking to real people, no matter how difficult they can be to access. There is no substitute to gathering insights directly from the people who use or support your product.
Activities might include:
Once we’ve gathered as much information about your users, business, and technology as possible, we turn our attention towards making it useful.
To do this we use a range of sense-making and framing techniques. The outputs of these activities will allow us to share and engage our insights with a broad range of stakeholders, but also act as the starting point for ideating solutions.
Outputs might include:
We begin ideating by identifying which are the most pressing challenges we need to tackle.
We can’t (and shouldn’t) try to solve everything in the discovery phase, so we pick our biggest assumptions, risks and opportunities, to start with. To achieve this, we combine our problem definitions with techniques such as opportunity tree mapping and impact/effort scales, to assess their priority.
Once we understand our priorities, then the team focuses on creating as many solutions as possible in the shortest amount of time. We might be looking at the core value proposition itself, a key uses journey or service interaction, or a technical challenge.
We refine our ideas just enough to get feedback from either within your organisation or the target users, and assess which ideas are worth progressing.
With a narrowed shortlist of ideas, we then begin to create prototypes to evaluate their user value, commercial viability, technical feasibility, and usability, in more detail.
Prototypes can be either user, business, or technically focussed. For example, we might create a visual prototype of a core product user journey and test it with real users. We might create a financial model to understand the volumes and investment needed to produce the desired business returns. Or we might build a technical proof-of-concept to test its feasibility and get a better understanding of the effort needed to build it.
We continue to iterate and refine our prototypes until the team has enough confidence that they are going to be successful, and to then plan for implementation.
Finally, a decision must be made whether to progress into the delivery phase, to stop altogether, or to pivot, based on what we’ve learned during product discovery.
Should the team and your business feel confident enough to move into delivery, then the team will begin to focus its efforts on planning and preparation. This will involve defining the scope of a Minimal Viable Product, creating a high-level backlog and roadmap, and elaborating the first few sprints worth of user stories.
We work with you to help understand the team and investment required for a delivery phase, and will include our recommendations as part of an end-of-discovery playback.
We favour responding to change over following a plan. We use backlogs and task boards to manage our work and run 2-week sprints, with regular ceremonies for communication, planning, and reviewing our progress.
We work with you, not for you. We work transparently and inclusively with your organisation and your suppliers to understand what the right product is together.
We deploy a lightweight, highly experienced team and take a ‘just-enough’ approach to design and research. This helps us make decisions quickly, accelerate time-to-market, and acknowledges the need for future iteration.