The discovery phase in project management is the initial stage of planning further work, required to be the first step for most IT projects. During the discovery phase, project managers collect and analyze tons of information for the subsequent assembly of the model of the future project. It is very important to obtain sharp, accurate data regarding the expectations of the customer, main decision makers on his part, as well as the attitude of end users to the released product.

The main purpose of the discovery phase is to provide accurate technical information. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to find out the needs of the client and fulfill documentation with product specifications that will be simple and understandable for the client company.

The main purpose

Those details that will become clear during the discovery phase will help you determine the scope of work, the terms for the project, and draw up an accurate plan for completing the task.

What gives a detailed analysis of the project:

  • Finding out the motives, goals and problems of the user;
  • Understanding the context of product use;
  • Search for new, unique ideas for development;
  • Understand the goals and attitudes of users regarding the use of the product.

The duration of the discovery phase for a project can be different – most often it is 1-2 weeks, in the case of small projects – development of web applications or websites. It will take 3-4 weeks to study and analyze data regarding the development of full-format platforms and rich applications.

The main stages of the discovery phase

During the discovery phase, project managers create a lot of documentation and technical specifications, and both parties – both the client and the contractor – thoroughly study the details of the project, providing each other with all the necessary information.

Discovery phase has several main stages:

  • Lean model canvas. First of all, project managers create concept art of the project, the prefabricated model and blocks, which are accessible to the understanding of people far from the development. The concept model includes the proposal, infrastructure, customer needs analysis and the financial structure of the project;
  • Customer journey map. A special customer journey map is created, which indicates UI manipulations in terms of using the given product. The map should include all the intended touch points and interactions, as well as the visualized experience of the client, taking into account his thoughts, emotions, motives and fears on the way to achieving the result. Contractor can easily keep in touch with the customer and communicate in a common terminological area, without misunderstanding;
  • User flow. To determine how the user will interact with the released product, the project manager creates a detailed user flow model in the form of schematically connected screens and transitions between them. It is easy to get a picture of user behavior and optimize the navigation model of the project;
  • User stories. A brief description of how the product will be used by users in the future, describes in detail the functional requirements for the system to integrate the application. User stories allow the customer to effectively prioritize the implementation of product functionality;
  • Product vision. Documentation that allows you to create a holistic assessment about the goals of product development, prospects for promotion in the market, its potential and prospects for development in the future. Product vision is useful to all parties involved in the development – the development team, marketing department and even for sales specialists;
  • Non-functional requirements. At this stage, all recommendations regarding the properties of the product and the restrictions imposed by the environment are taken into account. In particular, the technology list, required for development, the architecture of the infrastructure, and the expected load on the functional component of the application are listed.

Pros of the discovery phase

Upfront analysis has many benefits, expanding the overall vision of the product and creating a holistic view of integrations and interactions. In particular, the benefits of the project include:

  • Clarification of the idea and essence of the project, based on precise mathematical analysis;
  • Identification of some aspects of the project that will be most useful and popular among consumers;
  • Understanding user expectations and concerns based on research on similar competitor products;
  • Opportunity to get an expert assessment of the main methods of project implementation and its subsequent integration;
  • Drawing up a clear list of maps of user behavior on the site or navigation through the user interface;
  • Optimization of costs for the implementation of individual stages of the project and savings on management during development;
  • Establishing a balance between the business goals of the project and the interests of end users;
  • The ability to analyze the needs of the client in detail, creating an optimal development model.


Discovery phase provides an ideal basis for further work. The development company can evaluate all aspects of software product development. The goals and priorities of the user, the wishes of the customer are taken into account, a detailed market analysis and the search for optimal software solutions is carried out. Manager team provides the client company with a complete business model, which indicates all necessary bullet points, consists of precise infographics and contains technical requirements. It is all needed for creating a two-way effective communication between a developers team and client company.