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What Is the Technical Discovery Phase and When to Use It?

What Is the Technical Discovery Phase and When to Use It?

The Importance of Technical Discovery

Statistically, as many as 9 out of 10 startups fail. If we think of it, startups start with an idea, yet this idea often changes halfway, forcing them to reconsider their goals. The problem is that carrying out a project from start to finish can be incredibly complicated.

Since the process is far more complex than most can expect, it’s a common thing for startups to reach for quick ‘bandaid’ solutions. This occurs both in terms of strategy, and—what we’re going to discuss here today—technology. There is no blame for not being aware of technology’s role in today’s business world. After all, it’s not exactly common knowledge. And technology changes pretty damn fast.

However, the most competitive businesses understand the significance of technology. This means they carefully choose which is the best for their particular case. Online business is more competitive than ever. If you’re looking to challenge others in performance, SEO, and Google rank, you’re going to need to be aware of the latest tech possibilities.

What Is the Technical Discovery Phase?

Think of the technical discovery phase as planning to build a house. You don’t just do it—you need a plan of action. There are a lot of factors to consider before you build a house, like checking your budget, looking for ideas, and consulting with architects to choose the best solutions to suit your needs.

Just like the process of building a house, the technical discovery phase is an exhaustive and detailed investigation of all of the technical possibilities that will best align your project business goals with the project scope. It’s performed in cooperation between the provider and you. It allows for the best understanding of the customer’s expectations and goals and choosing the best tech stack to meet these. 

The investigation necessary for the technical discovery consists of asking numerous questions. We need to know about the business goals of the project, its target audience, the needs of the audience, and problems, as well as the main competitors of the project. During this phase, it’s very important to identify what materials need to be provided by the customer.

This process, however, doesn’t concern debuting projects only. Sometimes the already-existing projects need some upgrading and the technical discovery phase comes in handy as well. In this case, it’s more like renovating your house –replacing old-fashioned wallpapers with new ones, or removing them altogether, fixing the creaky old floor and the leaky pipes. It’s a way to identify problems and find the best solutions.

Benefits of Technical Discovery

Technical discovery comes with a number of benefits. They can all foster the chances of your project’s better functionality and overall success.

In essence, technical discovery is a blueprint that allows you to take steps in the right direction from the get-go. The point is to save you from running in the dark. Check how we see it at Pagepro.

Clarity

The first and probably the most important benefit is the clarity that technical discovery brings. Technical discovery helps you clarify your business goals and priorities and align technology to meet them as closely as possible.

Also, such investigation enables you to deeply understand the actual state of your project with its strengths and weaknesses and how likely it is to succeed on the market.

Plan of action

Another key benefit is that once the process is complete, you know exactly where you stand in regard to your project. The initial project backlog is prepared entirely by us. You get a clear plan of action including its timeframe and cost estimation. In essence, we pour our greatest knowledge and come up with a fully transparent plan. You can have us lead the whole thing from start to finish, or have absolute control yourself.  Either way, we provide you with a plan on how to carry out your project in the most efficient way. That way, you receive a market-driven project that best matches your and your audience’s expectations.

Choosing the Right Tech

Based on our experience we suggest optimal tools including open-source and no-code solutions to shorten the time to market and optimize the required investment.

This stage ends with documentation and final approval from both sides. In the end, we want to make sure that we’ve chosen the best technical approach and the right infrastructure for your project. 

Long-term Solution

The technical discovery phase allows you to choose a long-term solution instead of applying endless bandaids. The whole process is done in a clear and well-thought-through way which further minimizes the risk of having to change the initial idea halfway. It’s an investment for the future.

Outcompete Other Projects

Choosing the best technology for your project as well as an effective plan of action leads to a better performance of your project. And a better performance of your project means better user experience, and ultimately, better conversion. Small improvements like this are exactly what turn good projects into great ones

Do You Need a Technical Discovery Phase?

  • Is your project technically complex? Straying is unacceptable when it comes to carrying out a successful project. During the technical discovery phase, you get simpler and better technical solutions for your project and start moving in the right direction.
  • Looking to optimize the budget? The technical discovery phase is the way to go. You will get a clear cost estimation and the risk of some unexpected spending will be significantly decreased. Additionally, we’re going to help you choose the tech stack that will work in the long term instead of a temporary, bandaid solution. 
  • Are you overpaying for features? Modern websites are plagued with features that have no real impact on improving user experience on conversion. In other words—they are useless. What’s more, some features are overly complex and clunky for no reason at all and can be easily replaced by lightweight, no-code solutions.
  • Are you losing SEO? Technical issues and limitations will lead to decreased website performance. This in turn will lead to poorer performance in terms of search engine optimization. Generally speaking, technical discovery can greatly enhance your project in terms of general performance, which in turn is going to lead to an improved Google rank. 
  • Are you looking to identify high-value business opportunities and set up priorities? The discovery phase gives you the opportunity to understand how to carry out your project in an efficient and thought-through way. It amends your chances for success.

Not sure where to start the project?

Technical Discovery Process Step by Step

Every business is a little bit different. During the technical discovery phase, it is important to find balance and deliver whatever the client needs. There are clients with technical backgrounds who understand that their website needs a few tweaks.

If a client looks to improve their SEO rank, we’re going to take the steps necessary to make sure it happens. In a situation when a client wants to decrease bounce rates and improve conversion—we’re there.

If the client’s website takes too long to load and they want to make it faster—we do whatever it takes to brush off a couple of very expensive extra seconds.

The technical discovery phase lays the foundation for a successful and well-executed endeavour by defining key parameters, identifying potential risks, and establishing the fundamental framework. Throughout the entire process, open and consistent communication with the customer is prioritized to ensure alignment and understanding.

At Pagepro, we have a solid, battle-tested process, which ensures our clients always get exactly what they need.

Technical Discovery Phase at Pagepro

1. Building Project Charter

Duration: ~1 Week

During this stage, we emphasize the importance of close cooperation with the customer. Since the customer is the one who best understands their business needs and requirements, they play a crucial role in summing up the entire project idea in the project charter. We actively listen to the customer’s input and ensure that their ideas and concerns are well-reflected in the project charter.

In this stage, the focus is on outlining the high-level project scope and setting the project’s overall direction. The key deliverables of this stage include:

  • Top-level scope (epics): Identifying the major features or functionalities of the project at a high level.
  • Top-level schedule: Creating a rough timeline with major milestones and deadlines.
  • Top-level risks: Identifying potential risks that could impact the project’s success.
  • Top-level budget: Estimating the overall budget required for the project.

By involving the customer closely in the project charter development, we ensure that the project’s foundation is solid and that the objectives are aligned with the customer’s expectations.

2. Preparing Scope of Work

Duration: ~1 Week

During this stage, Pagepro development team dives deeper into the project’s requirements and refines the scope of work. The key deliverables of this stage include:

  • Project backlog (user stories): Defining detailed user stories that capture specific user requirements.
  • Project schedule: Creating a more comprehensive and detailed schedule with tasks and dependencies.
  • Setting priorities: Prioritizing features and tasks based on their importance and complexity.
  • Unveiling potential risks: Conducting a risk assessment to identify and mitigate potential risks.
  • List of integrations / external services / APIs: Identifying any third-party services or integrations required.

Upon completing this stage, the team presents the scope of work to the customer for review and validation. Feedback from the customer is carefully considered and incorporated into the plan as needed.

3. Choosing Technology Stack

Duration: ~1 Week

In this stage, Pagepro development team evaluates and selects the appropriate technology stack for the project. The key deliverables of this stage include:

  • Final tech stack with explanation: Choosing the most suitable frameworks, and tools, along with a description for each choice.
  • Architecture V1.0: Designing the initial system architecture to serve as a foundation for development.
  • Infrastructure: Planning the required infrastructure and hosting environment for the project.
  • List of materials/accesses from the client: Identifying any resources or materials needed from external partners or vendors.

For example, when working on a project for Just In Case Estates we managed to cut both time & costs of development by 50%. This stage also lasts for about a week and again ends with final approval. 

Tech Stack We Suggested in the Just In Case Project

AREATECHDESCRIPTIONWHY THIS TECH?
FRONTENDNEXT.JSThe most powerful React framework for building performant, SEO-friendly, and easy-to-customize user interfaces.It’s the easiest way to get server-side rendering required for this kind of project as you want the website to be indexed by Google and have high positions.
UISTORYBOOKA static components library that allows separate user interface work with programming work containing app logic, data and integrations.Using components library helps to shorten time to market. instead of creating each element from scratch, we simply mix and match existing components.
CONTENT
MANAGEMENT
SANITYThis headless CMS provides an easy-to-use interface for managing articles & pages.It allows you to work on the content & customize it collaboratively. A big is that it provides a preview of all changes.
BACKENDNODE.JSAn open-source, cross-platform, back-end JavaScript runtime environment.Facilitates storing & managing the code base of the developed app thanks to JavaScript. You only need a JavaScript developer instead of having 2 separate developers.
HOSTING &
DEPLOYMENT
AWSAWS offers reliable, scalable, and inexpensive cloud computing services.As we’re going to use Amazon Cognito for Authorization and AWS Lambda for contact form support, it’ll be more efficient to stay with AWS for hosting & deployment.
NO CODE
SOLUTIONS ↓
TYPEFORMTYPEFORMA web-based builder for online forms and surveys, that makes collecting information comfortableWe chose Typeform to let the customer make changes in the questionnaire easy and anytime he needs. Typeform provides easy integration with the most popular marketing tools, what was really important for the customer.
STRIPESTRIPE

A unified platform that provides easy payments integration into online products.
We see Stripe as the best way to integrate payments into online products. They offer tools for every tech stack and provide the highest level of security.

Once the technology stack is determined, the team communicates the choices to the customer, explaining the reasons behind each decision. This ensures that both parties are aligned with the chosen technologies and their implications for the project.

4. Building Project Plan

Duration: ~2 Weeks

This stage involves creating a comprehensive project plan that lays out the roadmap for development. The key deliverables of this stage include:

  • Estimations for user stories: Providing effort estimations for each user story to gauge the project’s overall timeline.
  • Risk mitigation plan: Formulating strategies to address and mitigate identified risks effectively.
  • Project approach/methodology: Defining the development approach or methodology to be followed during the project’s execution.
  • Schedule timeline: Creating a detailed timeline with specific milestones and their order.
  • Team composition: Finalizing the team structure and roles required for the project.
  • Final architecture: Refining and finalizing the system architecture based on the chosen technology stack.
  • Infrastructure rough cost: Estimating the cost of the required infrastructure.

Here’s an example of the estimations of the user stories that we made for one of our customers:

User stories planned during the technical discovery phase

After developing the project plan, the team reviews it with the customer to ensure that the proposed timeline and approach align with the customer’s expectations and business objectives. Any necessary adjustments are made based on customer feedback.

5. Establishing Ways of Working

Duration: ~1 Week

In this final stage of the Technical Discovery Phase, the focus shifts to establishing essential guidelines and standards for the development team. The key deliverables of this stage include:

  • Coding standards: Defining coding conventions and best practices to maintain code consistency and quality.
  • Testing standards: Establishing guidelines for testing processes to ensure a high level of software reliability.
  • Tasks workflow: Outlining the workflow for task management and collaboration within the development team.

The team presents the established ways of working to the customer, ensuring that they are in line with the customer’s internal policies and preferences. Any necessary modifications are made to accommodate the customer’s specific requirements.

The Technical Discovery Phase sets the stage for the entire development lifecycle, providing a clear roadmap and direction for the project. By investing time and effort in this phase, businesses can significantly increase the chances of delivering successful and high-quality software products, all while fostering a collaborative and communicative relationship with the customer.

It’s Not All Black and White

Even though we do have a strong, and test process, we are far from stubborn. We are always listening to our client’s feedback. In the end, the process may vary, depending on what exactly you are looking for. We make sure to provide you with the best offer we can. You, on the other hand, are welcome to change things up.

Summary

The technical discovery phase is essential to building a successful, market-driven project. Simply put, this phase puts you in a position where you’re sure you getting the product that you want. Another thing is that you create a great user experience that your customers will enjoy.

The main benefit of the technical discovery phase is that it’s a way to create a clear and detailed plan of action. This includes cost estimation and timeline. Having all these factors thought through minimizes the risk of being forced to change your initial idea halfway. Instead of temporary solutions, you invest in long-term ones.

Finally, performing the technical discovery phase minimizes the risk of your project failing. That’s why you’re better off not skipping this stage.

If your website is your main source of income, investing in a technical discovery should be on your to-do list. In the competitive world of eCommerce, you have to make sure your project is a complete long-term solution.

Not sure where to start the project?

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