Draw a bicycle on a piece of paper. Does it look exactly like the one I’ve drawn below?
Please, forgive me. I am a writer, not a designer.
I bet it doesn’t. We’re two different people, so naturally, we imagine bicycles differently.
The same happens when it comes to software development, since you and your tech partner have different understanding of the product you want to develop. This is why it is important to communicate your requirements and expectations to ensure that you get precisely what you have in mind. In fact, 56% of projects are at risk of failure due to poor communication.
And there is no better way to communicate what kind of product you want than running a product discovery workshop. The JatApp team has been developing software products for businesses since 2015, and we would like to share with you our own vision of how to run a product discovery workshop.
Unraveling product discovery workshop
The term “product discovery workshop” seems to have a very obscure meaning for many people. So, to play safe, let’s start with a clear definition.
A product discovery workshop is a collaborative process in which a project team works together to define, explore, and prioritize product ideas. The workshop typically involves representatives from various functional areas of the organization, including product management, engineering, design, marketing, and customer support.
During a product discovery workshop, the team may engage in a variety of activities designed to generate and refine product ideas. This may include brainstorming sessions, user research, market analysis, and prototype testing. The goal is to identify potential product opportunities, evaluate their feasibility, and determine which ones are worth pursuing.
A product discovery workshop has two major purposes: product idea validation and expectations management. Let’s get them into a sharp focus.
Product idea validation
Building a minimum viable product (MVP) is the most common way to validate a product idea, but it requires resources you need to spend upfront. A product discovery workshop, on the other hand, helps to understand whether a product idea is feasible without spending resources on the app development, testing, and deployment.
A well-known music streaming service Spotify used a product discovery workshop to validate and implement the idea of Discover Weekly feature, which has become a true banger. The workshop brought together a cross-functional team from different departments, including product development, data science, and engineering.
The workshop began with a brainstorming session, during which team members shared their ideas for a new music discovery feature. They then created prototypes of their ideas and tested them with a small group of users to get feedback. Based on the feedback, they refined their prototypes and tested them again with a larger user group.
During the testing phase, the team used machine learning algorithms to analyze user data and identify patterns in the music that users were listening to. This data was later used to generate personalized playlists for each user.
The final product, Discover Weekly, was a playlist of 30 songs that was updated every Monday with new songs based on the user’s listening history and the listening histories of users with similar tastes. The playlist quickly became popular among Spotify users and helped to drive user engagement and retention.
Remember we talked about bicycles in the beginning? A product discovery workshop aims at drawing one and the same bicycle in the minds of a customer and a software development vendor. A product discovery workshop will shed light on potential barriers and ways of improvement for your software solution, thereby making your expectations more objective and realistic.
Maryna, JatApp’s business analyst, comments on the role of a product discovery workshop in expectations management: “The better outcomes of a workshop we have, the more accurate time and money estimates will be. We don’t have to stop and make corrections on the go to make a product look like what the customer expected from us”.
What happens during a product discovery workshop run by JatApp
A product discovery workshop isn’t a ceremonial magic of an ancient cult, but a sequence of activities that bring fantastic results. As an example, let’s consider the case of a pharmaceutical company that was one of JatApp’s clients and wanted to build a digital product for their supply chain management. When the JatApp engages in a product discovery workshop with a client, the following happens:
- Kick-off meeting. At this meeting we get to know you better, and our business analysts ask basic questions about your business, product vision, and any specific nuances you would like us to bear in mind from a very start. In the case with our client, they explained that they wanted to develop a product for internal supply chain management and described the main processes the solution needed to automate. This conversation gave our development team a direction for further actions.
- User flows planning and project estimation. Once we have a clear understanding of the primary goal of your upcoming product, we brainstorm user flows that enable users to accomplish their tasks. Based on the flows and user stories we specified, we give time and money estimates for the product development. Speaking about our client, we studied all processes within the company’s supply chain management to propose user flows that significantly simplify and automate operations related to shipment, storage, and transportation of pharmaceutical products.
- User journey map preparation and architecture design. Once the user flows are defined, it’s time to map a user’s journey to make each flow as short and convenient as possible. According to the user’s journey map, we discuss with you a product’s architecture to ensure that we don’t omit anything and all processes will be well-structured within your app. During the development of the product architecture for our client, it came to their attention that some processes conflicted with each other, which could affect the logic of the entire system. So we had to move backwards and rewrite flows for types of the app’s users directly involved in these operations.
- Design prototyping. Our user interface/user experience (UI/UX) designer starts drawing basic clickable prototypes to show how your app will look like at this stage. Though it’s just a model of your future product, you’ll be able to understand how user flows work in practice and how users will interact with the app. You won’t believe it, but the UX prototyping for our client’s supply chain management app helped us simplify and automate the processes within the system even further. Since simplification and automation of the supply chain management was the purpose of the app, the customer agreed to review user flows and software requirements specification (SRS) once again. As a result, a huge 30-page SRS was reduced to 10 pages, but the product was still able to meet its initial purposes.
An example of a UX prototype
- Backlog/product roadmap/timeline record. In case you plan to scale your product in future, we create a product’s backlog with the functionality scopes for new releases. Very often, businesses prefer to have a long-term vision of their product, which means we need to discuss a product roadmap: a plan according to which your product will grow and achieve your business goals. If you don’t have any future plans, we will provide you with an estimated project timeline , so you can know when you will have your solution ready to go.
- Budget planning. That’s purely business talk. You are ready to spend a particular amount of money on development of your product, which is why we need to discuss how we can do this in the most optimal way possible. You won’t deny that such a discussion is vitally necessary.
- Development of monetization strategy (if applicable). If you plan to earn money directly from your application, we can help you with finding the most effective monetization strategy. We brainstorm different strategies like subscriptions, pricing models, and so on for you to decide what option is the most acceptable to your users, as well as promising to your wallet.
A product discovery workshop will get all your business ducks in a row
Even though a product discovery workshop may look like an unnecessary fuss, running one will save you much time and money once the actual development starts, as you’ll have a clear and detailed plan of bringing your solution to life. But you should be confident that you run a product discovery workshop properly, otherwise this “wow” effect won’t be as powerful as you expected it to be.
If you feel that you need someone who will assist you during this process, you can count on JatApp. Our company has handled more than 200 product discovery workshops, amongst which are such great cases as powerbank rental platform, building energy management system, or SaaS facility management app.
Don’t let your ideas go to waste — share them with us today and let’s start building something amazing together!