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Product Discovery workshops in practice. What are the benefits for the client and their business?

Przemysław Urbaniak

We’re taking a closer look into Product Discovery Workshops – the beginning of a successful journey from an idea to a final product.

9 out of 10 startups fail. Three-quarters of venture-backed companies never return cash to investors. The list of different failure rates for new businesses is long. The question is: *why?*

According to a post-mortem study of 80+ failed startups, the most common reasons for startup failure include lack of product-market fit, marketing problems, suboptimal team composition, finance, technical and operational difficulties.

These are the risks. Being aware of them is the first step in creating a strong product development plan. That’s why, we start product development with a discovery phase – a stepping stone to deliver products that people need, use, love, and pay for.

Today, we’re taking a closer look into Product Discovery Workshops and how they really benefit the business. Let’s start!

What are Product Discovery Workshops?

Simply put, Product Discovery Workshops are a bridge between a theoretical concept of the product – your idea – and its technical execution.

The workshops are a structured 1-2-day event that brings together the whole product team and focuses them on understanding the client’s needs. A common worry for entrepreneurs is that they don’t have the tools and resources to handle all the aspects of building their business, especially tech-wise. Our team at iRonin has experts specializing in all the different facets of digital product development – from UX and UI design, through software development, to project management – who can supplement your team both in the decision making, and execution.

During the Product Discovery Workshop you decide which features to build, how to prioritize them, how to allocate the resources, and handle the technical aspects, in order to prepare a single source of knowledge regarding your business idea, including a solid product delivery plan.

Having access to such complex expertise at an early stage, creating a structured roadmap and clear requirements, and getting the whole team working to a common goal, set your product up for success.

Who needs Product Discovery Workshops?

The discovery phase is essential for all software development, but if we were to indicate the most important use case, they would be:

1. Early-stage startups, especially those who need an MVP to pitch to investors

2. Organizations facing digitalization or digital expansion, planning to launch new digital products or services

3. Entrepreneurs and companies looking for external funding.

Product Discovery Workshops in practice

Now, once you know the theory behind this method, we would like to shed some light on what the workshops really look like. Starting here, we’re talking about how we approach Product Discovery Workshops at iRonin.

For us, the workshops are a chance to supply our clients with the best advice on the development process (security, data storage, backend exchange of information, user journey, and more) for both web and mobile apps. But discovery isn’t all about the code and tech stack, we also focus on the design aspect, including a thorough analysis of current wireframes, pointing to the best practices based on user psychology and behavior, and a showcase of what is crucial for effective UX/UI design.

Product Discovery Workshops – deliverables

After the workshop, our team compiles the learnings into a set of deliverables that will help the client’s team make decisions and prioritize work during the product development process. In most cases, clients who participate in Product Discovery Workshops, continue working with us during the development phase. It gave us a chance to adjust the way we prepare the deliverables according to the feedback from the product teams.

The deliverables of a Product Discovery Workshop include:

1. A road map for the entire project:

1. Scope of work for the MVP

2. Prioritized features of the final product (to capture your goals and requirements, we use the MoSCoW prioritization technique during the workshops)

2. A list of key functionalities with information about the optimal tech solutions and the business goals they should accomplish

3. User journey map

4. Wireframes based on user flows.

Product Discovery Workshops – agenda

1\. Introductions and expectations

The first part is all about getting to know each other and understanding the different expectations we have from the workshop. We don’t only focus on the expected outcomes, but also topics that people want to cover, aspects that will be important for their further work on the project, etc.

2\. Product vision

During the second part, we explore in more detail the client‘s needs and the exact problems that they are trying to solve with their product. We also take a closer look at the end-user, to ensure a product-market fit. Active listening, we found, is essential at this stage of the workshop. It allows us to explore the topic without jumping to conclusions or swaying the conversation and enables us to identify the ultimate goals of the client.

Together we discuss and define the product/service vision: customer segments, buyer personas, market positioning, competitors, expectations towards the product/service evolution in the long term, etc.

3\. Technical overview

At this point, we need to choose the best tech solutions for this particular case. We tackle:

  • Non-functional requirements
  • Tech stack
  • Integrations
  • Content management
  • Performance
  • Admin
  • Compliance
  • User journey map

Mapping the high-level features identified on the user journeys sets the ground for a later step which is determining what an MVP should include.

4\. User stories

User stories are short, simple descriptions of features told from the perspective of end-users. User stories put end-users front and center, and ensure that the team understands not only what they’re building, but also why and what value it provides.

*As an \[actor\] I want \[action\] so that \[achievement\]*.

The actor is a type of user.

The action is what they want to do using your product.

The achievement is why they want to do it — the benefit they’ll get.

5\. MVP - Prioritise User Stories

With a complete list of user stories, we prioritize them to determine which of them should be included in the MVP. We use the MoSCoW method to divide the features into four groups:

  • Must-have
  • Should-have
  • Could-have
  • Won’t-have (at all or right now)

We also analyze the complexity, cost, and risk of every feature. With all this information in mind, together we create a list of core functionalities needed to create an MVP.

6\. Wireframes

The last step is to turn the most important user flows into a series of wireframes. Wireframes are simple illustrations of a layout of a page or a screen. It shows key interface elements and how the users will interact with them.

Wireframes provide a basic visual understanding of the product early in a project. It’s a cost-effective way to make decisions about navigation and interactions, and gain approval from the stakeholders, users, and team members.

Do you need Product Discovery Workshops?

Product Discovery Workshops are an integral part of the planning process. It’s then when you capture information that will help you run your product development effectively and deliver a better product for your end-users. Although it’s possible to start working on a project without such workshops, it’s a risky decision with the failure rates of digital projects being so high.

Taking part in workshops with iRonin is an opportunity to learn on your own terms. Depending on the scope of your project, your workshop team will include an experienced senior developer in relevant technology, project manager, and UX/UI designer. After the workshops, you decide whether you want to continue cooperating with us.

If it seems like Product Discovery Workshops might be something for your business – let’s get in touch!

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