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5 tips to help you run a successful discovery workshop

5 tips to help you run a successful discovery workshop

Here are 5 tips you can follow to make sure it goes smoothly.

Running a discovery workshop can be a daunting task for anyone. You have a bunch of people coming together to identify the project objectives, requirements, and expected outcomes, and you have no idea what they’re going to uncover. Through a discovery workshop, we dive deep and explore new paths to tackle a problem. Usually, these workshops last from 2 to 4 days depending on the project type.

While the process of running a discovery workshop is quite simple at its core, there are a few aspects of it that need to be approached with care. The process can be nerve-wracking for those who are not familiar with it. If you’re unsure of how to run a successful discovery workshop, here are 5 tips you can follow to make sure it goes smoothly.

1) Define the goal of the workshop

Before a discovery workshop, it’s important to have a clear goal in mind. This will help you know what to expect from the workshop and how to take the right steps to achieve it. You could define your goal as having a clear understanding of X or finding out what people want from Y. The goal you set for the discovery workshop will help you stay focused during the session and make sure the information you gather from the attendees is useful for your project.

2) Decide on workshop participants

You can't have an effective discovery workshop without a diverse mix of visions and ideas. The number of participants depends on the scope of the project, but there should always be people who participate in project implementation. The discovery workshop should include:

  • Project manager - leads a discovery workshop and sets the workshop agenda.
  • Clients/company leaders -  discuss their ideas with the project manager and project team, and outline their expectations for the project.
  • Project team members - developers, UI & UX designers, QA testers, and business analysts.
  • Stakeholders (optional) - from a business and customer perspective.

3) Set the workshop agenda

As we mentioned, the project manager is responsible for planning the workshop agenda. Their task is to prepare all the activities and things that need to be discussed during the workshop. The type of workshop plan will vary depending on the type of project and business goals. You can organize workshop activities within these sections:

  • Introduction - take a few minutes to introduce the workshop and attendees.
  • Workshop overview - define project objectives, requirements, and expected outcomes.
  • Getting to know the client - understand clients' business and their specific goals.
  • Risky assumptions - define the desirability, feasibility, and viability of a new product idea.
  • Early financial estimate for development
  • Estimated project timeline - think of what could slow a project down and how to avoid that.
  • User personas - describe who are your users and their goals.
  • User journey mapping - define user scenarios and create a list of pain points and users' intentions.
  • Feature prioritization - identify a list of features that are required for the product to achieve optimal efficiency.
  • Minimum viable product (MVP) - define the basic features that will initially be introduced to customers.

4) Don't rush it

The discovery meeting should flow naturally and should not be rushed. During the discovery meeting, you should spend enough time covering all the topics and make sure the information gathered is useful for your project. If you don’t have enough time to cover all the topics, you can shorten the meeting. However, you should only do so if there is a clear need for it. If not, the information should be expanded.

5) Wrapping up

At the end of the discovery workshop, make sure to wrap up the meeting. This is where you can summarize the meeting and highlight all the important information and conclusions.

You should also make sure to thank the attendees and send a message that closes the end of the meeting. This is also a good time to remind the attendees of the non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), so they can make sure to keep the information they have heard confidential. These tips will help you to avoid common mistakes during the discovery session. It can be challenging to run a successful discovery meeting, but with a little bit of preparation, it will be easier.

Conclusion

Developing a new project shouldn't be a journey that you need to face alone. This is why you should take part in the discovery workshops, which are a huge investment. There are so many benefits of it: reducing cost, minimizing the risk of failure of a product, defining the client's expectations, increasing the production speed, and so on. But, there is more. After the workshops, you'll receive some amazing stuff like:

  • discovery report (so you can remind yourself of everything that we discussed during the workshops)
  • road map of the project
  • defined project timeline and budget
  • an insight into wireframes & designs

For us, the discovery workshop is an integral part when starting a new project. However, you can build digital products without it, but considering all the mentioned benefits, it would be a shame to skip it.

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