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Product Discovery – What it is and why you should do it

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Product discovery is a process during which the development team seeks to better understand the customers and their needs. As a part of the design process, companies go through this critical stage to prove or disprove their assumptions about their target audience. That’s why product discovery factors in different aspects like known user problems and meta information. In the end, it seeks to create a product development outline.

Product discovery is an integral part of product management. Without it, there is a high chance that your product will have issues with clarity, vision, and marketability. This process uncovers the customers’ real pain points and helps clear the uncertainty regarding development, resources, and risks. Product companies, MNCs, and startups all use product discovery to save time and money. 

This activity also defines how the team should update the product, what kind of updates are feasible, and when to release them. It also reduces the uncertainty and ambiguity around a particular product and establishes a well-defined path for the product development team to go forward.

You can do product discovery yourself, but it’s better to hire software development vendors as they have more expertise and knowledge. For example, BairesDev, a nearshore development company that focuses on customized software development with a DevOps approach can guide you during this crucial stage.

It’s also worth mentioning that sometimes product discovery can be confused with product delivery. Product discovery is the understanding stage of product development where the team conceptualizes a product based on existing knowledge and methodology. Product delivery is the stage where the end product is in users’ hands for testing and feedback.

With that out of the way, let’s see the steps you have to follow for successful product discovery.

1. Understanding the problem

First, you have to understand the exact problem your users are facing. A good product discovery process starts with a simple idea that can be a potential solution to customer problems. You should be able to fulfill client requirements with your available resources.

This part focuses on high-level objectives for the product, like values, developer thoughts, product offerings, market stand, etc. The specifics can come later.

The earlier you start product delivery, the better it is, as it becomes easier to incorporate ideas. Most companies take a few days to brainstorm possible values and ideas to present to clients. With the client feedback, you can go back to the drawing board and start conceptualizing from there. Try to take feedback from as many clients and teammates as possible.

2. Defining the problem

Once you have the required understanding of the problem, you can start working on the answers. This will start with defining a problem statement that you have to cover your biggest issues. Through this, you can prioritize your problem-solving process.

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Ensure that you consider constraints such as the target client, business model, competitors, and the number of users. You should also keep in mind factors like client infrastructure and the client’s business plan (current and future). Once you consider all these aspects, you can begin working on the next phase of product discovery.

3. Establishing metrics

Once the exact problem is defined, you have to define the metrics for the project, as they will determine whether the project has been successful or not. For this, you have to identify an optimal solution and determine metrics based on that. This will help determine the objectives and key results.

The client may provide you with some key metrics, such as expected functionality, software quality, and exceptions handling requirements. Along with these, you can also use time, cost, and scope constraints to define more precise metrics.

4. Risk identification

There are certain risks involved in software development. In product discovery, you have to target those risks, understand them, and figure out how to mitigate them. Four common risks in software development are value risk, feasibility risk, usability risk, and business viability risk.

Based on your priorities, you can identify which risks you should focus your time on. Once you identify them, you should classify which risks are mitigable and which ones would require additional time and resources.

5. Finalizing details

Once you have tackled the basics, you can go ahead and finalize the other details for product discovery. You can conduct A/B tests (split testing) for your ideas and consider client views before taking action.

You can also set up a rough prototype for your solution. It doesn’t have to be an exact solution, just something that you can develop further. A few examples of prototypes can be a mockup, MVP, and sketches for the product. You can also use similar products produced by your organization and use them as a base.

Conclusion

The main function of product discovery is to make sure that the exact problem is identified based on a clear understanding of the customer’s pain points. Your solution should overcome customer problems and align the whole team toward a common goal. Product discovery is a framework that is designed to figure out a roadmap to the project.

A good product discovery methodology will involve cross-team collaboration, continuous understanding of goals, and client values. Empathy to the client’s needs and understanding of the client’s costs and infrastructure is the key.

You should keep in mind that it may not be possible to know everything initially, but conducting product discovery is a great way to seek answers in a cooperative and disciplined manner. Of course, the more information you have, the better the chance for success. But even if you don’t have all the points, following these steps will help you understand and develop better products.

 
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