Before any code is typed, and before any expertise is channeled from the minds of great tech integrators to the web, there is one major piece of work that needs to be done: the discovery phase.
A laborious process that involves plenty of sweat and possible tears, the discovery phase is the process of writing the spec. Data is gathered from a number of various sources from the CEO of the brand down to the band of tech integrators that are going to provide their consultancy services. In a nutshell, it’s going to explain (1) the current state of a client, (2) the desired state of the client, and (3) how to bridge this gap.
Yet carrying out such an undertaking in such a resource- and time-constrained landscape can severely suppress the comprehensibility of the spec. Speed needs to blend with quality to complete a successful discovery — a tricky task. But what are the particular ingredients?
A successful discovery
The process of the discovery phase has gone through a mini revolution of its own with the emergence of newer and more sophisticated technologies. Whereas in the — not so distant — olden days consultants had to rely on general thoughts for interviews and feedback, nowadays consultancies can take advantage of large data analytics and AI models.
Yet the techniques of discovery tend to be grouped into four particular categories: reviewing the existing business documents; quantitative analysis using statistical tools; observations via interviews with stakeholders; and formal interviews with key stakeholders, which include clients. Which route you decide to go down will come from the interactions between the client and tech consultancy.
The end result will end in enough raw data, spreadsheets and paper to make environmental activist groups cry — unless it’s all digitized, of course. It is only after this process that your tech integrators can get to work with whatever project you are set to begin, such as a Salesforce Commerce Cloud installation or revamp.
Yet the main problem of the discovery process is that nobody wants to do it. A considerable amount of time is spent on discovery and no one is paid to undertake such a laborious journey. And there are so many variables that can cause a discovery to reach beyond its expected time limits, such as delays to data collection, and time constraints of key stakeholders that makes scheduling an interview with them awkward.
Generally speaking, the discovery phase may take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. So it’s not just a quick copy-paste job. It’s a long phase that cements the foundations for the project. Yet because it is often treated with buttery fingers between the company and consultancy, it’s become an undervalued aspect of the entire project.
If the discovery phase is the precursor to the project, then finding clarity regarding who is actually going to be doing it is the pre-precursor.