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Start Your Next Agile Project With A Discovery Phase!

7 August 2017 | About a 3 minute read
Tags: Agile, Analyst, ANDtech, client acquisition, delivery lead, developer, Digital, discovery phases, IT, lead, process, product manager, product owner, review, Scrum, solution architect, sprint, tech


“We need to build something fast, but not sure how we should start about doing it properly.”

“We can’t keep pouring money into our old legacy systems and monolithic architecture.”

“It’s taking us so long to implement even the smallest of features.”  

“What is this going to cost and what is the business case?”

“Our business and IT stakeholders are misaligned.”

 

Having worked in IT delivery for 16 years, I personally have joined countless projects, where entire teams are wasting time and money, getting frustrated waiting for numerous problems to be resolved before they can even begin effectively delivering good quality working software and ultimately drive business value. We get there in the end but it’s a struggle – lots of technical debt, moral is low and you keep asking for that end date!

More recently, however, I see more and more clients requesting an initial Discovery Phase and I’ve been fortunate to lead a good few over the last year and half with AND Digital, something I totally love. They have all been different, equally challenging but so rewarding to see entire teams at the end aligned with a common understanding, from tech stack, business priorities or how to work in an Agile team and dev and collaboration tooling.

 

How long does it take?

In AND Digital we have had Discovery Phases from 2 sprints right up to 8 sprints, but we keep it to a minimum so we can start building as soon as we can to start delivering tangible value.

 

What are the key activities?

At AND Digital we run our Discovery Phases using Agile, with the key stakeholders, so we hold Daily Scrums and deliver Sprint Reviews to engage with a wider audience and gain feedback. Sometimes we use Jira at this stage to track discovery tasks, especially with companies that are embracing Agile for the first time. Depending on the challenge again, activities can vary, but usually consist of tech specific workshops, one to one interviews, identifying personas, customer journey mapping, identifying a vision, product road-mapping, generating a backlog with user stories and where feasible, customer engagement.

 

Who should be part of it?

At AND Digital, we work with you! We look as much as possible for our clients to provide the roles, especially the Product Owner and Product Manager to provide the vision and confirm priorities, and Solution Architect/Developers that have a understanding of tech challenges to date.  We do appreciate some client roles have other day jobs so we can provide roles to support such as a PA as a proxy product owner.

We can bring on a number of roles if need be, the Delivery Lead (me!) to oversee the entire phase and ensure success. These roles include Product Analysts, Developers, Solution Architects, DevOps and/or our Tech and Agile coaches.

Other stakeholders we value in this phase include UX, Infrastructure, Marketing and other SMEs. It is key to get the business sponsor to communicate the importance of attending the relevant sessions so not to be missed out.  

 

What are the deliverables?

Tech deliverables can include, a current technology review, proposed high level architecture, options for a new tech approach and execution of identified POCs (proof of concepts).

Business deliverables can include; agreed delivery scope/MVPs (Minimum Viable Products), WOW (ways of working), user stories and journeys, associated wireframes and the relevant business cases.

Overall a proposed delivery plan and the build team structure along with the rationale and cost-benefit analysis for the build.

 

If you would like to more information on how we can help you with your business challenges, please get in touch. It would be wonderful to hear from you!

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