Today we`ve talked to Oleg Svet. Oleg is the head of the Delivery and Technology department at Computools – a full-service software company.
With years of experience behind the belt, he has to shed some light on the discovery phase in software development.
Oleg, could you tell us about your background, company, and your role in it?
Oleg Svet : Well, it’s a long story! I had a penchant for coding and computers back in middle school when I was in the 7th form. I have been improving my knowledge since then, which, eventually, brought me to Computools.
Initially, we were on a quite low profile with tiny bits of projects on Elance but had an urge to grow our expertise, team, and the company overall. This pushed us to shift our focus to outsourcing.
What I really like about our company is how diverse, yet united our teams are. Today we help worldwide companies build their business, so our expertise is very wide. There is quite an avalanche of industries we work with: from healthcare and finance to retail and manufacturing. More industries mean more challenges and projects.
For years of hard work, we`ve developed a firm software development backbone, meaning that with us innovation comes standard, we don’t invent a vehicle.
My role is to make sure everything runs like clockwork and aim for clarity, structure, high-performance rate, and intuitive functionality across every stage of the software development process.
Would you briefly describe to us how you see the discovery phase?
Oleg Svet : Well, the software development lifecycle is not built solely on coding. To make sure that the project goes smoothly and is aligned with the business goals of the client there is a preparatory phase before the actual development phase, it’s called the discovery phase. We try to work together on the project’s idea, vision, identify risks, think of a target audience, study competitors, and so on and so forth.
How do you approach the discovery phase in your company?
Oleg Svet : Overall, there are 4 main steps at this stage of development. Firstly, we try to define the goal of the project. It helps us to estimate the value of the product.
The second step is all about syncing vision. This step has a lot to do with meetings and documentation. We do our best to understand what exactly the client is looking for and his needs. After that, the Business analyst describes the project in the documentation and presents it to the product owner.
The third step is more about tactic rather than strategy. The “how” question arises. We think of how to work on the given requirements at minimum costs.
All that information is summarized in the final stage – the project`s blueprint. That includes detailed requirements as a development plan, tech specs, engineering prototypes, and so on.
Is the discovery phase required for any project?
Oleg Svet : I don’t think it is a panacea for a project that can be done in 100-200 hours. Simple automation of proof of concept can do without a blueprint, for example.
From my experience, we had clients with ongoing projects but they were still looking for a new vendor. As it eventually turned out, 80% of those clients skipped the discovery phase.
Why do they skip it?
Oleg Svet : Well, many small companies suggest jumping straight into the development process and skipping the discovery phase to reduce costs. But this can often entail some problems.
Oleg Svet : As I’ve mentioned before, lack of vision.
Without a discovery phase, you may agree on the product vision with your client, but later on, different issues arise. Each party may have a different vision of the project. This brings in multiple edits, slow development time, poorly maintainable code, unnecessary features, and, as a result, costs. With proper documentation, this will not be an issue.
Multiple changes on the client side are also quite common.
Sure, developers and analysts may adjust the development process depending on how the market evolves.
But mostly they do so because of a lack of project vision. 90% of code edits can be eliminated with the implementation of a discovery phase. With it, you put all the cards on the table, which helps better understand the budget, risks, and deadline.
Besides, architects and engineers take part in the Discovery Phase. They will help you understand how they will work on the project, outline optimal approaches, and so on. That way the discovery solves another common issue, which is a weak and nonflexible product.
So the list of problems that the lack of discovery phase entails can go on. That’s why I`m one of the biggest advocates of the discovery phase importance. It decreases the final price of the product and eliminates any issues in the development process.
If you have any questions regarding the impact of the discovery phase leave comments to our guest or just write a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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