As discussed in a previous post, having the right people on your project team is vital to a successful outcome. Additionally, we have found it to be beneficial to form a team dedicated to analyzing project details before any development begins. This team is often referred to as the “Discovery Team”.
As suggested by the name, this team is committed to the discovery phase within the pre-stages of product development. They are focused on identifying and obtaining a full understanding of the project including the high-level project scope, goals and objectives. A typical discovery meeting is much like a brainstorming session. The team shares conceptual ideas and explores their feasibility. Through this process the group arrives at a consensus of the creative direction of the project before the design and development stage begins.
Often, individuals from engineering, product management and Project Management departments collaborate in this phase in order to be proactive and identify all necessary components. During the investigation, the team will also try to anticipate potential risks so they can be prepared in the event that they come up.
The discovery phase is extremely beneficial to product development because it allows the decision makers to voice their opinions and ideas before any initial concepts are created. Vetting these ideas before the development begins allows the project to move more quickly through the stage gates of the project management system.
This pre-phase planning step is used with most new product developments, and product redesigns as well as prior to transferring from development to production. The amount of time needed for a discovery phase varies based on how far the customer is in their development when they involve their development partner.
Although the discovery team meetings extend the initial project timeline, the process typically results in fewer delays during the development stage and a shorter time to market.