ExecutiveChronicles.com | Product discovery workshops – a strategy that can help your business deliver better results | When building a digital product, the product discovery phase is one of the most important ones, whether we are referring to the development of a new product or improvement of an existing one. The starting of a project is always the most exciting part of the entire development process. It’s the moment great minds come together, ideas start flying around and everyone is full of energy and enthusiasm.
However, we have to keep being realistic and acknowledge the fact that the beginning of a project sets the pace for the final result. If you don’t approach it correctly, you risk jeopardizing productivity, or even delaying the release.
To prevent that from happening, software development companies like to do a little something called a product discovery workshop. Keep reading to find out what it is and how it can help your company deliver better and faster results.
What is a product discovery workshop?
Product discovery workshops are the first step in the early product planning phase and help the developing team get to know each other if they have never worked together, as well as make first contact with the product idea. It is a teamwork exercise that involves brainstorming and much more.
Once the concept of the product has been contoured, it is time to get down to business and start thinking about the functionalities of the product and establish how these functionalities are going to be put into practice.
By properly conducting a discovery workshop, you can avoid some key problems and speed up the development process. Issues such as underestimating development costs, releasing a product that has little market potential, or failing to meet the needs of the end-users can make a project fail and affect the company’s reputation.
What are the key goals of a product discovery workshop?
Discovery workshops are fun and full of energy, but they are more than a group meeting. At the end of the workshop, everyone in the team should know the answer to the following:
- What is the ultimate goal you are trying to achieve?
- What is the purpose of this specific product?
- What functionalities does this product have?
- What are the technologies you are going to use to meet these functionalities?
- Who is this product aimed at?
- How will we determine the success indicators for this product?
Other aspects, such as early interface concepts or design ideas can also be discussed in discovery workshops. These concepts can then be used to sketch an early prototype of the product and use it as a base for the next step of the development process.
To achieve these goals, the entire team needs to work together and be an active participant in the workshop. This is not a traditional meeting where the team manager gets everyone together to inform them of something. Having a workshop agenda where everyone gets to talk about their ideas and expectations of the product will help the team bond and start working like one.
Several approaches can be used for a discovery workshop, including user story mapping, event storming, and product vision canvas. Event storming, however, seems to be the most fruitful of these approaches, as it is an engaging way to create a business model for the product.
How can product discover workshops help your team?
In computer science, they have a concept called GIGO. If you are not familiar with GIGO, it means “garbage in, garbage out”. In short words, it means band input will always result in bad output. If you don’t start a project right, there are little chances you are going to finish it right.
Doing a discovery workshop may sometimes seem like going the extra mile, but there are tremendous benefits to it:
You will deliver a better product
Carefully planning a project is the key to getting a better outcome. It is the team’s chance to see the bigger picture and create a vision, before each start getting absorbed into their work. When you are doing the graphic design of a product, it’s easy to get creative and forget about functionalities, but when the entire team shares their view, you will get a collaborative plan that is set to deliver a much better result.
Well-planed products cost much less to develop because there are fewer mistakes to make, fewer hours spent on last-minute changes and fewer chances to build something that won’t fit the purpose. When everyone knows what the end goal is and the tools they need to use to get there, it eliminates errors, meaning you have to spend less time on reworks, which are known to blow up the budget sometimes,
Faster time to market
A product discovery workshop will help you identify rabbit holes and avoid them, determine what you are building and why and allows for changes before the team gets into development. All of these things eliminate errors and help you deliver products faster, but just as high-quality.
What happens after a discovery workshop?
A discovery workshop usually lasts between 1 and 4 days, depending on the difficulty of the product and how fast the team reaches a conclusion. Once the workshop is over, there are two more things that need to happen before you move on to the next phase.
First, everyone needs to give their feedback on what their expectations are, if they felt confident about the result, what goes, and what needs to change. Without an honest answer to these questions, there is no way the team can improve and deliver better on their next projects.
Then, someone needs to put together a workshop summary. This represents the output of the workshop, as well as the plan for the development process. How you choose to build this summary is up to you and your team. It can be a collection of everyone’s notes or a report that covers the key aspects that were discussed.
The summary serves as both a reminder of what has been discussed and a summary that can be presented to a new member of the team if the situation requires.