The Simplest Ways to Make the Best of Project Discovery Proposals
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The Simplest Ways to Make the Best of Project Discovery Proposals

author By Reena Tripathi May 15, 2020
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After putting in an insane amount of time and work on a discovery proposal, you don’t want to hear a “no”. 

To convert your prospects into clients, your proposal needs a high level understanding of the client’s business, take the guesswork out of things and most importantly focus on the problems they are facing or may face in near future. 

This blog will shed light on factors essential for designing an effective proposal and also the basic concepts of the software project discovery phase.

 

What is Software Project Discovery?

Similar to what discovery means for a layman, in business, it loosely translates to gathering and analyzing the information about a new product/software to help understand its goals, vision, scope, limitations, usage by involving key stakeholders. It helps understand the needs of the business upfront, challenges associated, and budgeting.

Why does Discovery matter?       

A typical agile phased out project enormously considers the discovery phase as a predominant step before moving further into the development of the project. 

Here are the reasons why discovery is important-

  • Help understand and align stakeholders on scope, goals, and vision
  • A better strategy in place ensures faster time-to-market by deciding on the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) features and getting higher ROI (Return On Investment)
  • Saving the overall budget by eliminating costly and low priority features from the initial development
  • Identify blockers, risks, dependencies, and limitations well in advance to take corrective action at a very early stage
  • Make the right decisions based on evidence produced from discovery rather than assumptions

Download the FREE Discovery Proposal Template

What Happens If Discovery is not Done the Right Way? 

It is crucial to have the discovery phase but more importantly, do it in the right manner.

It's been proven and experienced that “Not doing discovery is equivalent to doing discovery in the wrong way”. In both the scenarios you will end up spending more money and more time than you had initially envisaged. 

Some tips for making the discovery phase successful-

  • Choose the right skilled people for the discovery
  • Get ready with the list of questions for the stakeholders and end-users
  • Choose the discovery duration 2-4-6 weeks based on the project complexity, size, etc.
  • Follow the defined process for the discovery phase
  • Involve stakeholders during the entire process
  • Make sure Minutes of Meetings (MOM) is prepared to cover whole day activities, agreement, and sign-off from the stakeholders

Here Is What You Need to Include in Your Business Proposal 

Once client/business leaders agreed for the discovery phase, you can consider these pointers to include in your proposal too, and tweak it, if required.

The section below covers the sample of the discovery proposal which can be shared with the client covering use case, prerequisites, workflow, team, outcome, etc

 

  1. Key challenges/business problem

We must understand what are the key challenges/problems which the client is willing to resolve. For instance, this sample proposal is for the use-case when the client is-

  • Unhappy with the current CMS - wants to migrate to a different technology or upgrade the existing
  • There are some limitations with current CMS and a lot of tech debt has accumulated - scalability, maintainability & extensibility
  • Unhappy with current user experience (frontend users, backend editorial users, etc).
  • Want to migrate from a traditional website to a CMS
  • No longer supported by the community, e.g. Drupal 6
  • Want a new look and feel - a complete change in UI/UX & existing application/platform

 

2.    Discovery Process Workflow

Here is the complete discovery process workflow-

4 boxes showing discovery workflow

*R&R - Roles & Responsibilities 

*SPOC - Single Point Of Contact 

*PO - Product Owner

 

3.    Discovery Pre-requisites

Before discovery starts, it’s important to list down all prerequisites so that the discovery period can be more effective and fruitful. Here are a few instance of prerequisites-

 

CATEGORY

ITEMS

Organization Map
  • Define client organization by mapping all the stakeholders
Designs
  • Application designs/wireframes/information architecture if already exists, should be made available if design is not in scope else wireframes, UI/UX prototype etc should be the part of discovery 
Application & Infra Access
  • Application & codebase access
  • Schema access
  • Site map of the applications 
  • Infra access, if required 
  • Application, code walkthrough, etc
Any third party integration
  • List of third party services and microservices integrated with the web sites
Usage Analytics / Benchmarking
  • Different types of user and personas, with any workflow or access control
  • Existing application usage analytics (Google Analytics reports etc)
  • The performance or other benchmarking reports
Existing Architecture
  • System or application architecture blueprint
  • Infrastructure architecture
  • All 3rd Party integrations with the system, if any
Key pain areas
  • List all the challenges/limitations in the existing system
  • Existing defect analysis or existing tech-debt like trends of unstable features/modules etc.

 

4.    Discovery Outcomes

It is important to define discovery outcomes upfront to set the right expectation with the business owners. Here is how you can do it effectively-

DELIVERABLES OUTCOMES
Product Canvas
  • a concise yet content-rich tool for conveying what your product is and how it is strategically positioned
Identification of POC’s 
  • often POCs are required especially for 3rd party integrations 
  • all POCs to be identified of unknown and complex areas, and included when needed to be the part of the discovery
Architecture
  • Infrastructure & deployment strategy
  • Solution architecture
  • Content modeling, DB schema, and migration strategy
  • Identification of components and templates
Non Functional Requirement (NFR) 
  • Identify all nonfunctional requirements which comprise of SEO, accessibility, browser support, performance, etc 
RAID Log
  • Identify all risks, assumptions, issues, and dependencies beforehand
Product Roadmap
  • High-level product backlog to be captured in excel during discovery and later to be managed in Jira (Project Management Tool)
  • Backlog estimation will be done using T-shirt sizing/Man-days
  • Story map
  • Release plan
Staffing & budgeting
  • A staffing & budgeting proposal for the development phase of the project is one of the critical outcome of the discovery phase, based on which client can make appropriate strategy and plan further development
Governance
  • A detailed Agile/Scrum process and calendar for running the development phase of the project will be delivered covering any customer-specific customizations, as needed
QA Strategy document
  • Detailed QA test strategy 
  • Scope of QA automation, if any 
  • Includes suggested toolset in consultation with customer’s IT team 

 

5.   RAID Log

At the beginning of the venture, it is important to identify key risks, assumptions, issues, and dependency which could impact the discovery deliverables. Refer to the risk example below-

DETAILS TYPE SEVERITY/PROBABILITY IMPACT
Designs for the new websites are not ready yet AND may not be available during the Discovery project  Risk High/High Overall deviation in the timelines and budgeting

 

6.   Team structure and individual roles & responsibilities

Identify the right skilled people who are proficient in performing discoveries based on the discovery type. Every team member has defined roles and responsibilities to provide clarity, alignment, and set the right expectation upfront. 

Picture Name | Role Responsible for
image of person in black background

John Mayor

Client Success Partner

Discovery project outcomes & client success
image of person in black background

Liz Heather

Business Analyst

Writing epics & stories along with “acceptance criteria”(detail of some user stories as needed), document POCs required, release planning  
image of person in black background

John Mayor 

Delivery Manager

Account governance, resource management; define & release the work plan 
image of person in black background

Liz Heather

Technical  Architect

Defining technical architecture and related documents
image of person in black background

John Mayor

Solution Engineers

Product evaluation and solution architecture
image of person in black background

 

Liz Heather

UX Engineer

Create meaningful sketches, mockups, and wireframes

 

 

7.   Roles & Responsibilities of Client Product Owner

Too cliche but the most important participant in the discovery process is the client.

Here is the R&R of the Product Owner from the client-side-

  • Co-owner of backlog along with Srijan’s Product Owner.
  • Responsible for sign-off on ‘product backlog’.
  • Help define and stick to the calendar for the duration of the Discovery across all client stakeholders.
  • Responsible for getting sign-offs from all internal stakeholders.
  • Responsible for negotiating expectations (reasonable / unreasonable) of internal stakeholders.

 

8.   Define cost, duration, and terms & conditions

Based on the discovery scope, team composition, and duration we arrive at the discovery budget. It is important to include terms and conditions to clarify details like payment terms. This will make sure that the client is fully informed and there’ll be no surprises down the road.

Here is the sample template of the costing-

Note: In case of fixed cost discovery no break up is required, we can simply put the total cost

 

TEAM

DURATION

ONSITE/OFFSHORE

RATES/DAY

DAYS

TOTAL

 

Week 1

Week 2

       

Client Success Partner 

100%

100%

Offshore

$800

10

$8,000

Technical Architect

100%

100%

Offshore

$350

10

$3,500

Delivery Manager

100%

100%

Offshore

$800

10

$8,000

Business Analyst 

100%

100%

Offshore

$280

10

$2,800

Solution Engineer

100%

100%

Offshore

$350

10

$3,500

UI/UX Engineer

100%

100%

Offshore

$350

10

$3,500

TOTAL

 

$29,300

 

  • Total Cost: $29,300
  • Duration: 2 Weeks
  • Payment Terms: 50% advance and 50% on completion 

Download the FREE Discovery Proposal Template

Bringing It to an End

A discovery phase is all that counts to help you lead a project successfully. You might find it a hassle but bear in mind that it is an investment.

Once the discovery phase gets over and the results and the proposal look propitious, it’ll be time to design your product, build your MVP, and test it. 

However, do run trial operations to test and perfect your proposal seeing what works the best for you.

Srijan clients have first-hand experience with the benefits of the discovery stage. If you are ready to implement your ideas or scale your business, reach out to our team for a free consultation.

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