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 – 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 by no means the font of all knowledge in the initial stages.
A discovery sprint is a focused period of research and discussion that sets up a digital project. Whether you have an existing brief or not, a discovery sprint is a highly valuable way to ensure you get the right digital product foundations built in the right way for you and your users.
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”.
Let’s dig a little bit more into how discovery sprints can inform digital product briefs, and vice versa.
Defining, refining and expanding your brief
Having a detailed website or digital product brief is a really helpful starting point for any project, but as we’ll get on to later on this post, it’s not essential to have an extensive brief document going into a discovery sprint. These documents come in all shapes and sizes, with varying levels of detail on background, technical specification and it’s not uncommon for the partner who is provisionally developing the product to support with writing it. 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.
Challenging assumptions and perceptions
You and any stakeholders involved with your business or the project will naturally have preconceived notions and assumptions about your business, your audience, and even the kind of digital product you need. It’s important to go through a process of challenging these assumptions – to protect yourself from wasting valuable time, budget and resources on a 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 discovery 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 marketing managers have a background in development, so they can frame the project in this way, whereas others are from a more strategic, creative, or content-led background. 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 in-depth research, experience and technical knowledge/capabilities – 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.
So, now 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, 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 mentioned, it’s not essential for a discovery process. 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 work closely with an external team 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?
Once you’ve completed a discovery sprint, you’ll have a clear direction, strategy and roadmap that sets out the digital product roadmap that’s right for your organisation and your users. This work can then act as a brief for a digital product – usually consisting of a strategy document, statement of work and project plan. 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 with us.