Whether it is your first digital project or you’ve already launched several of them, you probably will start with the same question. What is the best approach to cover all the aspects of product planning and preparation to a project? To align people with your vision, brainstorm new ideas, and finalize with a clear plan to start, go for a scoping workshop.

Starting a software project discovery
Basically, the project discovery phase is the first step in the new project. It should always come first before any project scope or line of code is written.

During this stage, all stakeholders work together and collect project requirements, determine project scope, create software requirements specification, choose technology stack, define roles, estimate costs and deadlines.

As a result, it will help you avoid costly mistakes in the future e.g. developing unnecessary features, extra costs, etc. The main goal is to create a thorough plan of how the project development will proceed.

What is scoping workshop?
Scoping or ideation workshop is full-day sessions where all the parties discuss the details of the vision and project. It is the best way to clarify what the needs are, uncover areas that haven’t been considered before, define the risks, and work on the project planning requirements.

To help you spent less time on talks and avoid pointless discussions we prepared for you an example scenario of how to run a workshop with your team.

How to plan to scoping workshop?
Invite all members of your team who you think, can actively contribute. For example, it could be CTO, COO, CEO, software architect, project manager, and designer. Before the meeting gather all the materials you have including notes, user flow samples, some drafts – all that will help your team to better understand the main idea.
Remember that the main goal of the workshop is to answer all the “WHAT? WHEN? WHY? WHO? HOW?” questions to coordinate the chaos and brainstorming, where everyone will be trying to put their two cents into the discussion. Example questions:

  • What’s a problem we’d like to solve?
  • Who will be the users and what are their objectives?
  • Who will be helpful to gather the requirements?
  • What’s my team composition, who can help?
  • What’s the project’s timeline?
  • How much can we invest?
  • When do we want to kick off the project?
  • What are the benefits for the users/organization?
  • Do we need a pilot or proof of concept?

That is why prepare a list of questions, related to each of the aspects: objectives, data, end-users, process, flow, current environment, input and output, and expectations from the project. During the meeting ask these questions to the team, discuss and gather the most relative answers. This information allows you to prepare a project scope. In case your project requires specific knowledge and deep analysis you can always refer to the external IT service and technology provider to help you with it.

Example of discovery questions by category:

  1. Strategy and business
    What is the main goal of the project?
    What problems are we trying to solve?
    What is the business model?
    Are there any similar products on the market?
    How our product will differentiate from existing ones?
  2. Product design and development
    What is the main goal of the project?
    What problems are we trying to solve?
    What is the business model?
    Are there any similar products on the market?
    How our product will differentiate from existing ones?1
  3. User experience
    What is the main goal of the project?
    What problems are we trying to solve?
    What is the business model?
    Are there any similar products on the market?
    How our product will differentiate from existing ones?2
  4. Project management
    What is the main goal of the project?
    What problems are we trying to solve?
    What is the business model?
    Are there any similar products on the market?
    How our product will differentiate from existing ones?3
  5. Goals and measurments
    What is the main goal of the project?
    What problems are we trying to solve?
    What is the business model?
    Are there any similar products on the market?
    How our product will differentiate from existing ones?4

Scoping meeting example agenda
You can join on–site or remote scoping workshop, but of course, on-site meetings are more effective. During the meeting, all the essential aspects of the project should be covered: user types and flows, processes, integration interfaces, ideas.
You can start with the business aspects and then move to the technical and execution side. Identify who is responsible for leading each topic to engage all team members. Dedicate and plan time to discuss the following topics:

  • Scoping meeting agenda
  • Business case overview
  • The vision of the project
  • Goals and measurements
  • User segments, flows, and paths
  • User stories
  • List of the main features
  • Risks and issues
  • Project key roles and responsibilities

In order to work in the same direction with a team, and let people understand business reasons and values, it is crucial to set conversion measures and KPIs. During the project execution, it will help make the decision about the directions and track the performance after roll-out to check how the product follows your goals.

What is next?
After brainstorming and understanding your business goals put all the workshop results together and write a scope of work. Define the deliverables, timeline, key milestones of the project to get started.
Once you end up with a well-defined scope of work all you need to do is to define the backlog for the first few sprints/iterations, set up the right team for the project and start the development.