According to Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, over 30,000 new products are introduced to the market annually, out of which 95% fail. Product development is undeniably challenging, but is there a way to prevent your product from becoming part of this bitter statistic?
Fortunately, yes, and it involves creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). While it might seem daunting at first, taking part in a discovery workshop will make creating an MVP a lot easier.
Let us take a look at what MVP stands for.
What is an MVP
According to Techopedia, "A minimum viable product (MVP) is a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product's initial users."
Do you have a product idea that you want to validate in the early stages? Then conducting a discovery workshop to figure out what your MVP should include is your best bet.
What is a Discovery Workshop?
The initial definition and planning phase of creating a new digital product and dispensing it to the users for testing purposes is known as a discovery workshop. These workshops greatly benefit entrepreneurs who might be struggling to launch a valuable product and do not know how to set the ball rolling. Its main aim is to determine a complete scope of the project, goals, and aspirations. Everyone involved in the workshop can also come forward with their expectations and ideas and put them up for discussion.
You might now be wondering – is a discovery workshop truly necessary? Each project needs to be fully scoped and defined before going into production, whether it is proprietary software, a mobile application, or any other digital service. While every product starts with a vision, you need to validate your idea and define your service's technical and business aspects at some point in the process. A discovery workshop will provide a ready-to-use backlog of tickets that you'll need to develop the MVP.
Let us now discuss the benefits and various ways in which a discovery workshop expedites the MVP process:
Solution and product idea validation
An MVP workshop involves a team of experts with whom you collaborate and who help you evaluate ideas. They also support you in solution/product idea validation. By the end of the workshop, you should be able to gauge whether your idea is market worthy and if your potential product can stand tall against the competition.
An MVP workshop enables your designers to provide a quick prototype of your product's prioritized features. That gives you the ability to test your product concept with potential users even before writing a single line of code!
Reduction of time & production costs
Launching your product and discovering loopholes at a later stage can cost you a multiplier of time and money in the long run. However, with a discovery workshop, the development is focused on the features needed for the MVP only. Crafting a quick-to-market solution reduces downtime, mitigates future issues, and, best of all, results in the reduction of time for and production costs.
Production plan refinement, roadmap, and functional specifications
The MVP workshop will steer your product vision in the right direction. By the end of the workshop, you will have an initial backlog of MVP and post-MVP features that will help you decide what to focus on in the product roadmap.
Improvement of the entire product development process
Insights, deep-dive analysis, and know-how from an MVP workshop will pave the way for the rest of the product development lifecycle. You will have a chance to boost business plans and level up your product.
The newfound awareness of both technical and business risks or dependencies will expedite product execution with fewer hiccups. The quick access to proven know-how will also save you time resulting in an improvement of the entire product development process.
Now that we know the gist of a discovery workshop and its benefits, you might be wondering what it looks like. Let us peek into this next.
What Does a Discovery Workshop Look Like?
At DO OK, each discovery workshop is customized based on the client's needs. Therefore, the components, schedules, and results also vary. We discuss all requirements, expected outcomes, and terms of cooperation beforehand with our clients.
Let us now look at the various steps and elements involved in the discovery workshop.
A brainstorming session usually begins approximately three to four working days before the actual workshop starts. It includes a swap of ideas and analysis of the solution delivered by the client. We're focused on an overview of the available documentation or pre-existing work, such as older versions of the solution, design or mockups, backlog, and technology review (if exists).
After the brainstorming sessions are completed, it is time to pick the final team members that will be part and parcel of the discovery workshop. Here is an example of how a team can be composed:
The following individuals and teams make the core of the discovery workshop and need to take part in a successful outcome:
• Workshop Lead
The workshop lead should be an expert at both business and user experience. At DO OK, the workshop is usually attended by a business analyst and/or a product designer.
• Business Model & Project Management Office
The client’s main stakeholders, project managers, CEOs, and sales directors should take part in these workshops as they are the ones who know precisely how the product will be monetized.
• Experienced developer
A competent developer who is not just good at estimating tasks, but can also define the technical requirements and limitations of a project chosen as part of the workshop team.
• Product Owner
The Product Owner is the person who will be responsible for overseeing project development on the client-side. They are the ones who keep the vision of the product, while cooperating with the development team.
• Other relevant roles for both parties
Optionally, technical experts who understand your current systems and can help expand on your future technical setup should also be on board. If possible, the workshops should also be attended by customer experts who understand the clients’ real-life pains and needs.
After the final team composition is confirmed and set up a more detailed schedule for the rest of the process, it is time to work on the deliverables.
Deliverables come in different shapes and sizes. They are part of the workshop's documented results and serve as a to-do list for the project.
We start by making early assumptions to provide a bigger picture. This initial plan will eventually evolve, along with a more detailed list.
Here's a breakdown of the activities that may be included during your workshop:
• Analyzing your business model and its impact on the product itself (i.e., creating a Lean Canvas)
● A review of existing business processes that may affect the product (if applicable)
● Mapping key user journeys to understand how users interact with the product
● Creating the MVP scope (Minimum Viable Product)
● Identifying key hypotheses and metrics to ensure the product-market fit
● Creating a more detailed product backlog and a list of technical assumptions to facilitate cost & time estimates
● Create a few essential mockups to visualize the solution (the more innovative the app, the more important this might be)
● Identifying risks and strategies to mitigate them.
Your workshop's exact scope will be customized to suit your needs and established in the pre-workshop phase.
After the workshop is completed, we outline the risks and create an overview of mitigation strategies. We also:
● Discuss a high-level architecture for building and running the MVP
● Propose an early MVP estimate (cost, schedule, workload)
● We confirm the project plan, the team, and the optimal competencies and composition.
The length of the workshop is fully customized. Its duration will depend on the scope of the project and our clients' preferences and time availability. The more complex the product and the more hypotheses that need to be verified, the longer the workshop might be.
The discovery workshop is an excellent way of testing your product idea, figuring out what to include in your MVP, and verifying how your target audience will respond to it. These findings will significantly help shape the scope of your product development and your business strategy. Besides idea validation, an MVP workshop maximizes the return from funds to build a working product and foster it in the right direction.
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