Discovery Session for an MVP in Your Software Project


So you want to build an MVP

You have an idea, but you don’t know where to begin. Does that sound familiar? You have a spark, a great idea for a startup; you are thrilled to create the next best thing to happen to the IT world. But wait! What should be the first step?

Well, of course, you need to build an MVP. Validate your idea, test the market, that kind of thing. We all heard it, we all know it. But what does it actually entail?

If you have read our previous article about MVP in agile, you know precisely why launching a Minimum Viable Product first is such a crucial step in a development that is not to be neglected. Heck, you will not want to ignore it when you list all the benefits it brings to your project! Saved time, saved money, and real-life insights from actual people using your product. Not just your team’s assumptions and heart desires but real, practical data that will inform all your further development.

Neat, isn’t it? A comforting blanket of certainty in an uncertain and unpredictable world of business. That is what MVP is to your startup.

As an MVP is a start to your software development journey, an MVP has a starting point of its own. That’s where a discovery session comes into play.

What is a discovery session?

A scoping phase, an on-and-on process that generally takes from 2 up to 4 weeks of regular workshops. The main goal of the session is to find definitive answers to such questions as:

  • What is your product?
  • Who is it for?
  • Why is it important?
  • What does it need to be good?

You will understand what to explore and what to test. You will define what you know and what you still need to figure out. Discovery will help draw important conclusions you need to drive your business with conviction.

You will get:

  • A clear idea about a scope.
  • A shared understanding of what you are trying to achieve.
  • You will know what success looks like for you in practice.
  • You will learn how to measure it.

All in all, a discovery session brings clarity and understanding to your project. You will explore all the blind spots. You will transform your idea into an actionable plan. You will have a document detailing exactly what you need to develop your specific product successfully. Step by step, tech and all.

If MVP is your blanket, discovery is understanding what blanket you want and how you will obtain it. Down to all essential details.

Do I need a discovery workshop?

Short answer: yes. That being out of the way, let’s dig into the long one.

So you may think: okay, but I know my project. I have this idea, I am very certain about it. Why would I need a discovery workshop? Can’t I just skip it, save a few thousand dollars and several weeks of development?

See, it’s not that simple. Generally, skipping the discovery phase brings more harm than good in the long run, so far as sabotaging the whole development.

You will stumble upon a roadblock eventually. This is just how life works. When you start a new business project, the question is not if a challenge will arise but rather when it will happen. The most important part will be how prepared you are to face a problem. To negate a risk. To dodge a bullet altogether, in some cases.

Discovery is your planned route, your course of action you can rely on when things become convoluted and confusing. The results you get from discovery will help you decide if a route is viable at all. Whether you should even bother pouring your heart, soul, and investor’s bank accounts into it.

Discovery is also a bridge between your thoughts and your colleagues’ understanding of them. How many things in life fail because of miscommunication? It is crucial to make sure your whole team and your collaborators are all on the same page before proceeding anywhere.

Discovery will help you to:

  • Unify the team.
  • Create a shared understanding of the project.
  • Put everyone on the track to the one shared goal.

Isn’t that the dream?

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What will happen to an MVP without discovery?

Do you want to fail?

Obviously a ridiculous question. Of course, you don’t. On the contrary, you want to succeed clearly, and you are very passionate about it. Why else would you be browsing the Internet, reading articles about discovery sessions, MVPs, and agile development? You’re clearly serious about this.

What you should know is that there are only two good reasons to skip discovery:

  1. You don’t care about the future of your project.
  2. You have already done it.

We can cross the first one out. The second one is still on the table, though.

The real question is can you do it on your own. Can you complete your discovery by yourself? Yes, broadly speaking. Do you need to pay another company to do that with you? Preferably, and preferably the one you will be sticking to continue with the development later.

As much as you don’t need a fisherman to catch a fish for you to buy it fresh on the market, you don’t need other people to guide you through this plan-making stage. But unless you are a skilled fisherman yourself, seeking industry experts is a foolproof way to make the best of your time and money.

How do I validate my idea before discovery?

Several steps you can take before entering the discovery phase in agile. Let’s go one by one.

Customer analysis

What can you do:

  • Conduct in-depth interviews.
  • Collect insights.
  • Determine hidden motives and motivations of your prospects when buying products.

Interviews bring invaluable information to the table that you can’t obtain by simply asking direct questions. You won’t get much from inquiring, “what drives you to buy that,” “what are your pains,” and “what are your barriers.” People may not know themselves. Interviews by specialists get around the surface level to drive more profound conclusions. The ones that will actually help.

You can use this data to develop your brand’s position. Precise positioning will help your clients make up their minds about your product. It’s a good place to begin.

To conduct client analysis, you have to perform quantitative analysis to gather information about your users. This information will bring answers to crucial questions about the future development of your business:

  • The volume of the market’s segments and their main characteristics.
  • Data about customer’s profile and description of role models.
  • The list of competitors according to your customers.
  • Understanding who are those competitors that operate in the same segment and the same market as you.
  • The level of satisfaction from your solutions among the target audience.
  • Potential areas of improvement.

Market analysis

This step entails collecting, analyzing, and interpreting information about:

  • The brand.
  • The market.
  • The niche.

The basis for this research consists of:

  • Cabinet research.
  • Data from international panels.
  • Your primary research.

Marketing strategy

That’s where you create the Big Plan for your business, brand, and company. The steps to take towards it include:

  • Developing a marketing strategy for the company’s development.
  • Formulating a vision and a mission by the company’s shareholders.
  • Determining the business’s goals for the next 3-5 years.
  • Immersing into the business environment.
  • Analyzing current business indicators.
  • Studying the customer’s profile.
  • Analyzing the received data and further refining the company’s position.
  • Refining functional and creative platforms.
  • Mediastrategy 360.

Discovery session for an MVP: what does it include?

There are several major parts to what make the quality discovery session. A big part of it is involving the right professionals that will help you structure the process and lend their expertise.

Discovery sessions involve:

  • The meeting you will have as a client with the team you’re working with. This can be in person or done via Zoom or any software alike. The number of calls depends solely on the complexity of your project and how much you need to figure out.
  • Business Analyst consultation.
  • Senior designer’s assessment of the scope.
  • The work on the backend by a solution architect, frontend work, plus QA tester assessment.
  • Project Manager work on process organization, management, and such.

What’s the process like?

As mentioned, the discovery session takes 2-3 weeks on average. Exceptions are possible, of course. It might take up to 4 weeks for a bigger project or just a few days for a small one. Generally, 10 days is a good middle-ground you can count on for reference.

It all starts with a kick-off meeting. You, a client, get set up with a video call with the representatives of a company you want to potentially work with. Think of it like an introduction, or an interview.

The first meeting, as all first meetings go, meant for you to get to know each other. You describe what you generally have in mind with your project. Your future partner

talks about their approach to the process, provides examples of complete work if possible. It's the perfect time to inquire more information on both sides.

Throughout next calls you discuss separate topics in more detail. By the end of the session you will receive a complete document with technical specifications for your project. If a company you work with provides services you require, it's a good idea to proceed with the development, as they will already be deeply familiar with your project.

What will I get on my hands after Discovery’s over?

A document.

Not just any document but a concrete plan to proceed into development. It will include:

  • Technical specifications.
  • A list of features.
  • The logic of your software.
  • Defined user roles.
  • Development steps and requirements.

And so on. The papers the experts compile for you by the end of discovery are your game plan. You will give this document to your developers, and they will know exactly what to do to get the results you inquire about.

Since you will determine all the parts of your project, an estimation of a budget will be more precise. It is possible to calculate expenses more accurately when you know exactly what features you will need to develop. This will give you a figure much closer to reality than an average price range of the type of development you seek.

You know what they say: one man’s average is another man’s going horribly over budget. Discovery will help you avoid such horrors.

You can ask for more details

To be clear, there is no universal standard for how discovery results should be presented. Different companies go about it differently. The task is finding the right one for you.

Some might provide more details than others. If a company can provide examples of finished projects, that’s ideal.

Of course, no decent company will disclose private information about their clients. Discovery does involve exactly this, after all. What they can show you, however, are:

  • Finished projects that are public/live and can be accessed online freely.
  • Templates for their deliverables. Is it a Word document, a Google table sheet, or a Notion page? How will the information be documented?
  • In what form will their workings be presented to you? What do their “sketches” look like? Will it be a Miro mindmap? A table sheet? Combined? Something else?
  • How do their UX prototypes look? There are different approaches, and no one, in particular, is the right one. It just might be a good idea to take a look if they are offering. See if it will resonate with you. As well as the way they explain their processes.
  • If they estimate the pricing, how detailed will the assessment be? There is something you can potentially hear and see that will help you form an opinion on the people you want to hire.

If unsure where to start, consider starting with one or some of these questions. Don’t overthink it, though. You will meet with someone interested in filling you in as much as you are interested in getting the gist of it.

Meet with several companies. Look into the projects they finished by yourself. Talk to their previous clients.

You know the drill. Trust your gut.

How do low-code solutions help to validate an idea?

Your idea must stick. This much is clear. To make sure you aim in the right direction, you will need field testing. Low-code approach proves to be highly instrumental in such a task.

There are a list of benefits to using low-code, after all:

  • Available out-of-the-box solutions.
  • Open for custom integrations.
  • Increased time of development.
  • Lower cost of development.
  • Compatible with an agile approach.
  • Project will still be incremental.
  • Changes are easily incorporated.
  • Native cloud architecture of a platform you use.
  • Convenient maintenance even with no tech experience.

You know what this means: it’s a great tool to build your new MVP. Not only will it take significantly less time than involving yourself into a high-code project right from the start, MVPs built with low-code require less budget, as this approach saves on time and efforts of developers.

Everyone wins, basically.

Discovery session examples

Enough theory. Time for practice! Let’s dive into two examples from the Warmdevs team experience:

  • the project for Kortreist Ved, a Norwegian retail company;
  • the work for Acheteur, a real estate business based in Switzerland.

Both projects are described in full in our Case Study section. Feel free to check out the live websites, too. In this article, we will focus specifically on the discovery part and our team’s experience with both clients.

For Kortreist Ved, our team traveled all the way from Chernivtsi, Ukraine to the client's headquarters in Oslo, Norway for a kick-off meeting. This was a unique case, as usually we talk to clients through video calls. This was a complex project required to be finished in 12 months.

The client described in detail their vision. We made sure to gather input data vital for the project as well as general technical requirements. We defined the main goal:

creating an innovative, digitalized, and multipurpose platform for the ongoing and future projects. The website the client was using before was severely outdated, being built in an old Angular environment with an old tech stack. The client had an ambitious goal in mind. We made sure to pinpoint their needs.

Our team works by the scrum method. It's a great system that helps us stay on top of everything and involve a client in the process. Here, we divided the vision into epics. Epics were divided into user stories. The workflow itself — into 2 week sprints.

With Acheteur we had to work with limited resources. What was important was to help the client to allocate their budget wisely, and strategically divide the workload to keep the expenditure within the limits acceptable for them.

All meetings were held online, through Zoom, as we usually do. We were consulting the client on functionality of the website they wanted to build. We were gathering information about their project. We defined their vision. Our consultant helps the client to prioritize the features. We created a plan for development that included the goals for the first round of iterations as well for future prospects.


“Things are achieved when they are well begun,” as George Eliot said. Discovery is your start to a complex endeavor of bringing your project to life. At the end of the day, what the discovery session does for you is:

  • Transforms your ideas from abstract theories into concrete steps.
  • Provides you with a plan of action for the whole development process.
  • Gets everyone on the team on the same page.
  • Helps you plan your budget better.
  • Risk management.
  • Saves you time and money in the long run.
  • Gives you an idea of “what’s next?”

The purpose of discovery is to make your start solid. And it’s a new beginning that is the most challenging part at times, as you well know. Start strong, and good luck on the journey!


What is the discovery phase in agile?

The discovery phase in agile refers to the initial stage of a project where the team gathers and analyzes information to define the problem, goals, and requirements. During this phase, the team identifies the user needs and creates a product roadmap that outlines the key features and milestones of the project. The discovery phase sets the foundation for the rest of the project and helps ensure the team is working towards a shared understanding of the project's objectives.

What happens in the discovery phase?

During the discovery phase in agile, the team conducts research, analyzes user needs, and identifies project goals and requirements. They create a product vision and roadmap, which outlines key features and milestones. The discovery phase sets the direction and scope of the project and helps the team align on the goals and objectives before moving forward with development.

What should the discovery phase include?

The discovery phase in agile should include user research, market analysis, and stakeholder interviews to identify project goals and requirements. The team should create a product vision and roadmap, outline key features and milestones, and prioritize the backlog of user stories. It's important to involve stakeholders and team members in the discovery phase to ensure alignment and buy-in for the project's direction.

What should the discovery phase include?
What should the discovery phase include?
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The discovery phase in agile should include user research, market analysis, and stakeholder interviews to identify project goals and requirements. The team should create a product vision and roadmap, outline key features and milestones, and prioritize the backlog of user stories. It's important to involve stakeholders and team members in the discovery phase to ensure alignment and buy-in for the project's direction.

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