Where Do We Begin? Mapping a Web Development Project with Discovery

Category: Technical, Project Management, project Discovery

Every substantial problem deserves an innovative solution. However, what happens if your team can’t find the most efficient, cost-effective way to solve the problem? What if there are conflicting opinions on how to best solve the problem within your department or with other stakeholders? Or, what if you have a general idea to solve the problem, but you need a clear path to avoid wasted time in trial and error?

If you’re not sure where to begin in developing your custom web application, perhaps it’s time to discover more.

What is a Discovery Workshop?
When you need to map out a solution, it’s important to pull everyone together and brainstorm. A discovery workshop focuses around user-centered requirements gathering. This is a process during which the client, the development team, and other stakeholders join forces to agree upon the proposed system’s business and user goals, user workflows and tasks, and the prioritized set of features your product will support. It allows everyone involved to compile and review all available information ahead of the project kickoff, and begin to define the project’s objectives in a clear, efficient, and effective manner.

Prepare your team for the workshop by asking everyone to come prepared with ideas, yet keep an open mind to uncover the best solutions in order to achieve the goal together.

Start with the Basics, Then Build
An outside perspective from a development expert will help you see the bigger picture when it comes to your project. If you already have a full team on staff that can handle the project, consider bringing in a custom software development company to assist you in the discovery process. If your project is more expansive than your internal team can handle, consider staff augmentation or full outsourcing. In any case, starting with a discovery workshop will ensure that everyone agrees on actionable steps. Within the requirements gathering process, your team will need to conduct some research in advance about the User Experience (UX) for the project.

Research These Topics in Advance for UX:
Who will use the tool/app?
Competitive landscape review
Content inventory

Map Out Your Process Via In-Depth Brainstorming
After you’ve gathered adequate information about UX, determine the scope of the project, which will help you plan the timeframe for the discovery workshop. It will take anywhere between a single morning to two full days to complete, so plan according to need. Be sure to invite all stakeholders who will take part in the planning and decision-making.

During the workshop, you’ll undergo the process of user story mapping, an exercise that will help you to create the ideal user experience and to visualize features, which will take the majority of the time.

User Story Mapping Objectives:

  • Frame the story or project
  • Map the big picture
  • Explore possibilities and potential setbacks
  • Determine the viable releases
  • Create a development strategy

Plan for Implementation and Success
After story mapping, your team will be unified in the solution. It’s time to take a celebratory break – completing this process is exhausting, and you should feel accomplished! Plan next steps with the team to clarify your strategy with post-workshop activities to make the project come to life based on the proposed timeline.

Post-Workshop Activities to Consider:

  • Transcribing user story map (or content map)
  • Meeting to clarify outstanding questions
  • Entity Relationship (ER) diagram
  • Wireframes for key user flows
  • Team debrief
  • Product vision
  • Writing user stories
  • Estimation
  • Write-up or client report (optional)
  • Delivery meeting (with prep)

Final Project Implementation:

To ensure success throughout the duration of the project, schedule regular check-ins with the team, refer back to the story map, encourage communication, and break it down into manageable tasks with deadlines. If your expectations are clear and consistent, your innovative solution will triumph.

Want to learn more about how a discovery workshop can unify your team to bring success?

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