21 Jun 2023
Digital Products
7 min read

Discovery sprints: how they help you get the right digital product



Marketing Manager

When you approach a digital studio to work on a new project, the first questions of many questions you’ll likely be asked is “have you got a brief?” (if you haven’t supplied one already). A brief is an incredibly useful starting point for a digital product or website – it tells your potential or current digital partner all about your requirements, your expectations, your existing setup and challenges.

But in a robust digital project process, the brief is just the beginning. And it’s by no means the font of all knowledge in the initial stages.

That’s where discovery sprints come in as an invaluable tool in shaping the perfect digital product brief.

What is a discovery sprint?

A discovery sprint is a focused period of research and discussion that sets up a digital project. It’s an accelerated process where you and your digital partner will jointly challenge the assumptions you have about your current digital strategy, and the proposed direction. You’ll discuss the objectives for the project, and the wider business, as well as your key users, and tasks they need to be able to complete.

Product management coach Tim Herbig describes product discovery as “the iterative process of reducing uncertainty around a problem or idea to make sure that the right product gets built for the right audience”.


When you’re working for an organisation day-in, day-out, your view of the world will become narrower. It’s only natural. You’ll develop a lot of assumptions about who your key users are, how they view and interact with you. You may also not be aware of the full scope of digital tools and solutions that are available to you, and how they could be brought together.

A discovery sprint will be executed with a dedicated team who’s job it is to understand how digital experiences shape user behaviour. Because this dedicated team is separate from your department, or from your whole company, they’ll have a broader view of your digital strategy and understanding of the tools at your disposal. A fresh pair of eyes, so to speak.

With a discovery sprint, you can make sure you get the right digital experience, built in the right way. 

Let’s dig a bit more into how discovery sprints can help you prepare a brief.

How a discovery sprint helps you develop a brief

A discovery sprint is an invaluable way to establish the foundation of your project, whether you already have a brief or not. If you already have a brief, it can help to improve it to ensure you get the right end product. If you don’t have a brief, the discovery process will essentially write one for you.

Defining, refining and expanding your brief

Having a detailed website or digital product brief is a really helpful starting point for any project, but it’s not essential to have going into a discovery sprint. Briefs, RFPs, ITQs – whatever you want to call them – come in all shapes and sizes, with varying levels of detail on background, technical specification. It’s not uncommon for an external partner who is provisionally developing the product to support with writing one.

A discovery sprint can help you shape this brief, or equally, challenge the assumptions and any specifications in an existing brief to ensure you’re looking to build the right product in the right way. You’ll either test and validate an existing brief, or you’ll use collective insight and discussion to scope one out. Either way, you get a clearer idea of what it is you need and how you’ll get there.

Challenging assumptions and perceptions

As mentioned, you and internal stakeholders will naturally have preconceived notions and assumptions about your business, your audience, and the digital tools you need. It’s important to go through a process of challenging these assumptions. It protects you from wasting valuable time, budget and resources on an end product which isn’t right and isn’t built in the right way. Challenging your thinking in this way can be difficult – that’s likely a contributing factor as to why around 49% of digital projects end up suffering from scope creep. Managing this is important, but starting with ensuring you’re embarking on building exactly the right thing also helps – and that’s where a discovery sprint comes in.

Bringing knowledge and expertise to the table

In our experience, people leading on projects client-side have varying levels of technical knowledge and experience. Some project leaders have a background in development or digital, so they can frame the project in this way, whereas others are coming at it from a more strategic perspective. Depending on your experience, you may frame a digital project and the brief in a different way.

Engaging in a discovery sprint with a digital studio gives you access to a deeper pool of knowledge and experience. You get the right blend of experience, knowledge and capabilities across strategy, design and engineering. You’ll no doubt be working with a product team who spend all day everyday working with the latest technology and approaches. Things you may not have thought possible, or weren’t sure you could achieve, may now be on the table. You may be able to find a more effective and efficient way to do something you previously thought would be a mammoth task. You may be able to automate something you thought would be manual. Having these conversations helps you cover off the second half of the digital product mantra – building the thing in the right way.


We’ve covered some of the benefits of using discovery to shape your digital product or website brief in the early stages. What’s actually involved in a discovery sprint, and what do you need to bring to the process?

What to bring to a discovery sprint workshop

An existing website or digital product brief is very helpful in shaping discussions and providing a starting point. But as we’ve said a few times, it’s not essential for a discovery sprint. Through discovery, a digital product studio can help you refine an existing brief or shape one from the ground up. This key research phase gives you an opportunity to get everything on the table – who your users are, what they need to get from your digital product (or products) and how all this aligns with your wider business objectives. If you don’t have this information, or need some help to tease it out and turn this into actions, then that’s where partnering with the right digital studio comes in. They can help you to define all this within a proven process that directly informs a brief and a wider strategy.

The key thing to bring to a discovery sprint workshop as a client is honesty, openness and a willingness to challenge some key assumptions about your organisation. A digital product team will work with you to dig right into the how, what and why to ensure you get exactly what you need to set the right starting point.

What happens post discovery sprint?

At the end of your discovery sprint, you’ll have a clear direction that sets out the digital product roadmap that’s right for your organisation and your users. You’ll usually end up with a strategy document, statement of work and project plan. These documents can then supplement or inform your brief. Put simply, this piece of work supercharges your digital strategy and ensures that your digital project starts off on the right foot.


We start each and every digital project with a discovery sprint. It helps us to explore all of the possibilities and client challenges in an accelerated timescale and set out the right digital product and the right approach for building it. Wherever you are on your journey with starting a new digital project, we can help you set off in the right direction.


Need some guidance with your digital strategy?
Start a discovery sprint