Product Discovery Process: How we guide our clients from idea to tangible product specification.
by
Pavel Samčenko
19.9.2022

Getting your ideas out of your head, either on paper or to someone else's head, can be a struggle. Especially if your ideas are complex and your vision for how to achieve them is very specific. When you are a company, this problem might even be two-fold. First, you need to communicate the ideas within the company. This is the easier part because people in the same company are used to working together and understanding what your colleagues are trying to say. The second instance is trying to transmit the idea to your business partner – say, a tech company like NETVOR. 

Some of our clients have told us that, when working with companies in the past to develop digital products, it was often a struggle to ensure their vision was imprinted on what was actually developed. We have learned from previous experiences as well, and today we work with our clients within a framework that has been refined over time and many iterations. We call it the Product Discovery Process.

What is the Product Discovery Process about?

Simply put, the Product Discovery Process is designed to get us from broad ideas about a digital product to a perfectly defined scope. The process is split into incremental steps that go deeper and further into how everything should function. During the process, a client incorporates his vision, entrepreneurship, and know-how, and NETVOR adds the work's technical, visual, and organizational aspects. Thanks to this process, NETVOR and the client are one hundred percent aligned on what is being delivered, when, and what the investment will be. The process helps to eliminate any misunderstandings and aims to internalize all aspects of the project. 

Let's set up common ground.

It all starts with a workshop where we meet with you and talk broadly about your ideas. We want to know what market and audience you are targeting and at what scale. We try to dig into the problem you are trying to solve. We must understand the business side of things as we need to be working with the same mindset as you do. We also ask many tricky questions to be sure you have a hold of what you are trying to solve. No worries, if we discover blindspots in your business case, we will help you resolve them.

A big part of the workshop is about the technical and architectural points of view. Many of our clients approach us with a clear vision of the platforms and technologies they want to use. We try to assess every technical case critically to provide the client with the best outcome for their future upscaling, pivoting, and general maintenance.

Last but not least, we talk about timing and investment. It is essential to fit into a client's needs when it comes to time and money. Understanding the funding and timeframe helps us to streamline the value we try to deliver.

Your ideas are embodied and quantified for the first time.

The workshop is over. Now it's NETVOR's turn to combine everything and create a raw scope specification. The sole purpose of the specification document is to have one verified source of information for the product we are creating that is confirmed by both sides. This specification will outline the various parts of the software, the basic architecture, as well as all the features that the software is intended to contain – in enough detail to eliminate the possibility of misinterpreting implicit requirements. This specification does not necessarily provide all the details of each feature, but clearly and positively declares the scope of the planned work. 

We work closely with the client to ensure every detail is interpreted in a manner that both parties understand and agree upon. The result is a document that will help us to create initial estimates and budgets. Apart from that, the document will be the basis for much more detailed development specifications, wireframes, and user interface. 

Our initial estimates are based solely on the raw scope specification and hence are not precise since we do not have established designs or details for development at this stage. These estimates exist to give the client a reference for the expected funding needed for the project.

Once both parties agree that the scope is covered and budget expectations are met, we move forward – into greater detail. 

Blueprints. 

The next stage consists of activities such as wireframe creation, prototyping, writing up development specifications, setting up the visual style, and creating the user interface. It is key that the wireframe creation and creation of development specifications occur at the same time. Thanks to this, the client understands how his ideas are being implemented, and we at NETVOR know precisely how everything will function while considering all the project constraints. We iterate on wireframes, prototypes, and development specifications until the client is satisfied with the outcome. Once these deliverables are confirmed, we move on to the design part. 

At a certain moment, everything is ready, and we move on to the final budget estimation. We create a new estimate based on each function, user story, or user flow specified within the development specification. The client can see a detailed breakdown of time and development costs for each specific part of the project. 

Tweak here, trim there. 

If the budget estimate is too high or the project is just too big for the current purpose, that's okay. Clients can review the final estimate and essentially cut out the features that are simply not worth the investment or are not currently necessary. This also applies to time – the bigger the project, the more time is needed to deliver. Sometimes, the deadline is key. You, as a client, have the power to adjust the scope of work so it will fit into the timeframe you need. 

Let us do what we do best. Develop.

Everything is signed off; designs are ready, the timeline is set, the team is onboarded, and it is time to start developing. Next stop: release candidate. See you there!