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    A Product Discovery phase is considered to be the most efficient way to start any project. The discovery process workshop serves as the initial point of interaction between the client and the product team, where both parties can collaborate and come up with strategies to solve a particular problem. Conducted before the planning phase of app development, a stage for preparation of business and functional requirements during which we try to understand user needs and predict user journey, the workshop aims to align the project team, stakeholders, and clients toward a common goal, providing a clear understanding of the project vision.

    The Product Discovery workshop not only helps the team to understand the problem better, but it also provides a platform for mutual exploration of the idea's scope, leading the project in the right direction. The workshop is an essential step in ensuring that the whole team is heading in the same direction and has a shared understanding of the project's goals.

    In summary, the purpose of a Product Discovery workshop is to find all the answers needed to begin a successful cooperation. This includes the development of business goals, defining user and stakeholders, conducting user research and analyzing user needs based on user feedback, and global product vision, characterizing monetization and constraints, identifying competitors and advantages of a product, estimating the project’s scope, product modules and features, as well as setting up MVP and long-term plans.

    Thanks to all this one will be able to create a strategy that embraces business goals and user needs together with a value proposition.

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    Why is the Product Discovery Workshop important?

    The early stages of a project discovery phase are critical for product development. In fact, the value of an idea can be lost if the necessary questions are not addressed at the beginning of development. That's where a product discovery workshop comes in. This workshop is an opportunity for the client and project team to work together to define the scope of the project, align goals and expectations, and identify potential challenges.

    It creates a shared understanding

    The product discovery workshop is a crucial part of the planning phase in the app development lifecycle because it is the initial interaction between the client and project team, where both parties work to develop a shared understanding and devise strategies to solve a particular problem. Through this process, the team can arrive at a common ground, even if they have varying opinions.

    It makes even a complex project easier to develop by structuring the project roadmap

    What is even more crucial, during the workshop, complex projects can be simplified, resulting in a structured roadmap and clear requirements that align with goals. This approach helps to ensure that the project is completed within the given deadline, as the core functionalities are always prioritized. Furthermore, the workshop helps to identify potential challenges that may arise later in the development process, by highlighting project areas that lack clarity.

    The goal of the workshop is to build a shared understanding of the overall project direction, key milestones, and vision for the entire team, which also helps to minimize the risk of building the wrong thing. During the workshops, the team creates an understanding of who the customers are and how the product will improve their lives while also defining what sets the product apart in the market; it is crucial for defining what success looks like and how to achieve it. By the end of the workshop, the team should have a structured roadmap to accomplish set milestones and goals.

    It shapes and collects requirements

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    While small business owners tend to cut out discovery time and skip the workshop, even with standard or minimum functionality, a discovery workshop can reveal new frontiers and efficiently build a product and as it always ends with a prepared backlog it also greatly speeds up the development process. For large and complex products, a discovery workshop is a necessity. It helps to define and assess the scope of work for every phase and streamline the entire project at once. Through a discovery workshop, the team can dive deep, turn challenges into opportunities, and explore new avenues to tackle a problem. It is an essential aspect of an agile development process.

    It keeps a clear scope of the project and does not allow it to stretch unnecessarily

    Sometimes, when a client considers a project complex and outlines a big scope of work, a discovery workshop helps the team identify which functionalities represent the product's core for the initial phase. This reduces the scope and cuts costs for the client. In other cases, the team may unravel more complexities than predicted, which gradually increases the project's scope.

    In conclusion, a product discovery workshop is an essential step in any product development project. It helps to ensure that the team is aligned and working towards the same goals, minimizing risk, and identifying potential challenges. By taking the time to plan and strategize at the beginning of a project, the team can save time and resources in the long run, and ensure that the final product meets the needs and expectations of both the client and end-users.

    What are the key steps you must take during Product Discovery Workshops?

    As we already learned above, Product Discovery Workshops are an essential part of developing a successful product. During the workshops, the team collaborates to define the product's high-level vision, prioritize features, and develop a roadmap for development. The following is a detailed description of the steps involved in conducting a Product Discovery Workshop.

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    The first step is to establish a high-level vision for the product.

    This means understanding the problem that the product is intended to solve and the needs it is supposed to fulfill. The team should identify the core value proposition and unique selling points of the product to set the direction for the rest of the workshop.

    The next is brainstorming and gathering ideas

    Once the high-level vision is established, the next step is to gather ideas and plans from the workshop participants. The focus should be on brainstorming and gathering ideas from the team members. This includes everything that they would like to see in the product, even if it's something that might not be possible to implement right away. The aim is to get a big-picture view of what the product could look like in the future.

    The third step: prioritize features based on the value

    The third step is to start cutting out anything that isn't absolutely necessary for the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The MVP is the version of the product that has the minimum set of features required to solve the core problem and deliver value to users. It's important to prioritize features based on the value they deliver to users and the business. This step is essential because defining an MVP that is too broad can negatively impact the project.

    The fourth step: finalize your findings by preparing Information Architecture and User Flow Map

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    Once the MVP features are identified, the next step is to develop the information architecture and user flow. This involves mapping out the structure of the product and how users will navigate through it. The aim is to make sure that the product is easy to use and intuitive for users. Developing the information architecture and user flow is essential to ensure that the product meets the needs of real users.

    The fifth step: Make sure you are on the same page with the client by designing some Lo-Fi mockups

    With the user flow established, the development team can start designing lo-fi mockups and discussing important details that may have been missed in the previous steps. This includes things like the placement of buttons, the color scheme, and any other design elements that are important to the product. Designing lo-fi mockups and discussing important details is essential to ensure that the product is visually appealing and easy to use.

    The sixth step is writing down the established requirements from the client in the form of tasks for programmers

    The final step of the workshop is to go deeper into the functionalities of the product and prepare a backlog, preferably directly in project tracking software such as Jira. The aim is to create a list of all the tasks that need to be done to develop the product and prioritize them based on their importance. It's important to keep the user in mind while developing the backlog and make sure that each task delivers value to the user. Neglecting to establish a backlog can negatively impact the development process and result in missed deadlines and frustrated stakeholders.

    In conclusion, conducting a Product Discovery Workshop is a crucial part of developing a successful product. If you follow those steps, The Product Discovery Workshop will help you identify the core features of the product, establish the user flow and information architecture, and prioritize tasks to ensure that the product delivers value to the user and meets business goals.

    Each step of the workshop is essential, and neglecting any of them can negatively impact the project. By establishing a high-level vision, gathering ideas and plans, cutting out anything that isn't absolutely necessary, developing information architecture and user flow, designing screens and discussing important details, and going deeper into functionalities and developing a backlog, the team can ensure that the product meets the needs of its users and is a success. Not following these steps, however, may negatively impact it and even make your startup fail in the end.

    Tips on how to conduct a Product Discovery

    Knowing what Product Discovery Workshops are about and understanding the processes that you will go through to ensure that your product will be a success is one thing, but to make the most of it you should follow some good practices and be aware of what you should avoid. Would you like to know how to ensure this? Here is a short guideline to follow:

    1. Set up a goal before workshops - what do you want to achieve? What should be the main focus? The goal should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). It should clearly define what you want to achieve and how you will measure the success of the workshop. This can be achieved by having a clear understanding of the problem that you are trying to solve, the target audience, the product features, and the expected outcomes. Additionally, it’s just as important to discuss the desired outcome to align everyone's expectations and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
    2. Choose the right people to participate in the Workshops - there are a lot of people working on the product and they all see it from a different perspective, which is why it’s important to have a diverse group of participants consisting of not only Developers or UX UI Designers but also Product Owners, Product Managers, Project Managers, Stakeholders. The well-chosen participants are crucial to the effectiveness of the entire process.
    3. Have a product vision ready - A product vision is a high-level definition of what the product aims to accomplish and why it's important. The vision should be shared and understood by everyone involved in the product development process. In the workshop, start by discussing and refining the product vision. Ask questions such as: What is the main problem we are solving? Who are the target users? What is the unique value proposition? This will help create a shared understanding of what the product is and what it needs to accomplish.
    4. Conduct research beforehand - gather information on the market, user needs, and competitors to inform the discussion during the workshop. This will help ensure that the product being developed meets user needs and stands out in the market.
    5. Use brainstorming techniques and design thinking to generate ideas - encourage participants to share their ideas freely and use techniques like mind mapping or design thinking to explore different possibilities. Design thinking is a human-centered approach to problem-solving that focuses on understanding the needs and wants of the end users. In a product discovery workshop, you can use design thinking methods such as empathy mapping, customer journey mapping, and ideation sessions to explore the user's needs, pain points, and desired outcomes. This will help generate new ideas and features for the product.
    6. Prioritize features and functionalities - once ideas have been generated, prioritize them based on user needs and business goals. This will help ensure that development efforts are focused on the most important features. Not all features are equally important or feasible, and the team needs to decide which features to implement first. Use techniques such as the MoSCoW method (Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won't have) or the Kano model to prioritize the features based on their impact and feasibility.
    7. Define user personas - create fictional representations of the target user group to help the team better understand the user's needs and preferences. A user flow is a visualization of the steps that the user takes to achieve a specific goal within the product.
    8. Continuously iterate and refine - product discovery is an ongoing process and should be revisited regularly throughout the product development lifecycle. Use feedback from users and stakeholders to refine the product and make improvements over time. It is strongly recommended to repeat workshops regularly as well, especially if clients want to introduce updates or a new version of their product.

    Having all this in mind, one of the most crucial practices that you should incorporate in your Product Discovery Workshop is to always circle back to the beginning to assess if we’re not deviating from the original plan. It’s almost just as important to focus on the needs of the user instead of jumping into creating solutions that we think are needed. Your users should always be at the forefront of your mind, which is why it’s a good practice to evaluate each feature of the app by asking questions such as “what problem does it solve for my user? Why do my users need it? How can I make sure that it gives the users what they need?”

    What to avoid during Product Discovery?

    If you follow the good practices listed above you should have no issues with going through Product Discovery Workshops in such a way that will be the most beneficiary for your product. However, there are a few things that you may want to avoid during the workshops to ensure that you complete them successfully.

    Don't push too much functionality into the MVP

    One of them is defining your MVP in the right way. If we define an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) too broadly it can impact our project negatively. There is a rule that says that if we didn't remove half of the assumptions at the beginning, it means we removed too little. Additionally, if we haven't done anything like this before, it's a mistake to assume that we don't need to start with needs, problems, and a high-level vision. Why?

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    Defining a narrow and focused MVP is crucial for the success of a product because it helps to keep the development process on track and ensures that the team is building something that meets the needs of the target audience. If the scope of the MVP is too broad, it can lead to a number of negative consequences, such as longer development time, increased costs, and a product that fails to meet the target audience's needs.

    The rule of removing half of the assumptions is important because it forces the team to critically evaluate their assumptions and identify the most essential features and functionalities for the MVP. By removing unnecessary assumptions, the team can create a lean MVP that is easier to develop and more likely to succeed in the market.

    Don’t start if you’re not sure that you understand your audience

    Starting with needs, problems, and a high-level vision is important because it provides a clear direction for the product development process. Without a clear understanding of the target audience, their needs, and the problem that the product is solving, it's easy to get sidetracked and lose focus. Beginning with a high-level vision also helps align the team around a common goal and ensures everyone is working towards the same objective.

    Overall, Product Discovery Workshops are important for ensuring that the product development process is well-informed, focused, and aligned with the needs of the target audience. By starting with needs, problems, and a high-level vision, and by defining a narrow and focused MVP, the team can increase their chances of developing a successful product that meets the needs of the target audience.

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