What is a discovery phase and why you need one

What is a discovery phase and why you need one

Finally, the day you wanted has just arrived! Your manager gave you the green light to build that revolutionary digital product you have been advocating since you arrived at the company. You have all the information about what you want to build, the budget is approved, and you also found a nice studio to be your product partner. What could go wrong, right?

Many things can go wrong actually! Your clients may not understand the product or your product could be useless for them, or you fail to reach your sales goal.

How can you avoid these scenarios? How can you reduce the uncertainty of the product and the risk of failure? How can you meet your clients’ expectations?

Product discovery

Imagine a product manager or a marketing manager that never talks with their clients. How can they be sure about what to build if they never speak with a customer? How can you be sure if you don’t do the same before creating your product?

Your customers are the only people that can genuinely validate what you want to build. They are the owners of the pain your product wants to solve, they feel it every day, and they want it gone. But to know what ails them, you have to talk to them.

The product discovery process is about developing a deep understanding of your clients, to ensure that you are working on the problems that have the highest impact on them.

To develop this deep understanding, we have to talk with our clients (every week!) and understand what they feel, what pains they have and how you can help them solve that problem. Through this process, you will be able to learn more about your clients, faster, and with the ultimate goal of understanding whether or not you are building the right product.

Before you start building a product, you have to be sure about what to build

Many times, we think we know what to build, we are genuinely convinced that our customers will love our solution because it is innovative, awesome and completely different from others in the market. And when the product is launched the adoption rate is low and the sales are not even close to our worst-case scenario.

Your solution can be the best in the world, but if your clients don’t want it, it won’t mean anything. So, instead of building a product based on only your ideas, try to co-create the product with your customers. Talking with them regularly will help you create a product that will meet their expectations, and that is validated even before it exists.

The Process

Product discovery doesn’t have to follow a specific process, doesn’t have strict rules or activities. The goal is to learn more each time, so you should be able to do what works best for you.

In our case and in a brief way, we do three types of activities during the discovery process:

  • Interviews: talking to both existing users and people who are known or potential segments of the product. Understand their pain points and get feedback on any functional prototypes or experiments being worked on.
  • Prototypes: find ways to build basic examples for the solutions that, although not integrated and perhaps not even functional, can allow the customers to have a clearer perspective of the solution envisioned and give useful feedback before spending time on development and polish. Eg.:
    • Wireframes and rough sketches
    • Non-functional click-through prototypes
    • What-if scenarios
  • Experiments: launch minimum viable features or other experiments that can reduce uncertainty and risk on a given solution to potential and/or actual customers. For this to be effective, it is necessary to set up a process and perhaps basic infrastructure to launch experimentally features into production systems.

All of these activities can be easily adaptable to a specific business or product - you can incorporate other activities that work better for you or your particular case. You have to guarantee that during those activities you are learning something about that customer, you are gaining a better understanding on his current pain-points and you are collecting information about how he would like to solve his problem and/or his current solutions.

This is not something that happens once a year or only before you build the product.

Product discovery should happen every week. You should talk with your clients every week, to learn more about them. During those conversations, new problems, ideas and solutions will emerge, and you will continuously be there to ideate, validate, and build those features into your product.

It doesn’t matter if you are building something for the first time or if your product is already created, you should be talking with your potential clients or with your current ones.

For new products, this process will help you to be sure that you are building the right thing for right people. For already established products, this process will help you understand how your clients use your product and what the next steps should be.

We would love to talk with you more about Product Discovery so don’t hesitate to contact us!


Maria João Ferreira

More posts

Share This Post

Right Talent, Right Time

Turnkey technical teams and solo specialists
when you need them for greatest impact.

Work with us