For businesses who need software applications and site design, it comes as no surprise that it’s anything but easy to define.

That’s why here at Making Sense we’ve decided to put a spotlight on the development process.  Our first step was outlining the entire framework and presenting a visual representation of the process.  That can be found here.  

To further clarify what happens once a client has contacted us for a project, we’ll be doing a short series here on our blog.  We’ll cover each aspect of the development framework, from the discovery phase, on through development, going live, and even post-production user feedback and possible future improvements.

About our Framework

The three main phases of the Making Sense Development Framework are:

  1. Discovery
  2. Development
  3. Deployment & Enhancements

Most customers would be surprised to know what actually goes on behind the scenes once they’ve contracted our team for a project.  Within each of the three phases there are multiple steps leading to successful implementation of the final product to their satisfaction.  

Each post in our series will bring those steps into focus, helping bring everyone involved a little closer through understanding of how it all works.  

Today we begin, with the DISCOVERY phase.

What “Discovery” Actually Means in the Software Development Process

The Discovery phase is really all about the client.  It’s designed to help our clients during the early stages of the project, when it’s often unclear as to how they’ll define the scope of the product and the terms of the project.

To smooth the way and make this phase as productive as it can be, we have a multidisciplinary team that takes the reigns with the following:

  • conducting stakeholder interviews
  • analyzing the behaviour of customers & competitors
  • examining the client’s current platform & technology
  • Implementing User Scenarios, Personas Documentation, Sitemaps and User Flows, among others.

Discovery usually takes around two weeks before our team has what it needs to move on to the next step.  With the work done during the Discovery phase, we’re now able to deliver documentation that covers a list of requirements, the size of the team needed, a timesheet and interactive wireframes.

This is a crucial moment in the development framework, since the goal of everything we do in Discovery is to produce a solid estimate for achieving the final product.

We know our clients’ ultimate decision whether to greenlight a project is almost always contingent upon at least some level of cost-benefit analysis.  Without an informed estimate of what the cost will be, decision making becomes a guessing game.

We don’t want our clients to guess, which is why we front-load the development process with a thorough Discovery phase.  Expect us to work towards the following goals:

  • Extracting and clarifying client requirements
  • Developing structural designs and plans
  • Arriving at a consensus on those designs and plans
  • Sketching out a mock-up for top-level user interface design
  • Creating models for hashing out technical issues

We believe custom application development is successful only when a clear understanding of the project is shared by all parties involved.  That means both the development team as well as the customer should have complete and continuing information regarding the goals of the project and how it will satisfy the customer’s needs.

We know there’s often more than one way to fulfill customer goals.  With a well-executed Discovery and great communication at every step of the way, we can help you explore the options and arrive at the best decision for your company.   That’s achieved through collaboration so as to avoid thorny issues and arrive at consensus when it’s time to make decisions that impact cost and time frame of the project.

The result? An exceptional product that makes your business all it can be.

A Checklist for Deliverables in the Discovery Phase

Here’s what you can expect at the end of the Discovery phase:

  • Scope Document.  A list of functional requirements is drawn up, based on the information provided by the client and the analysis of our team.
  • Basic Architecture Diagram. High level architecture diagrams monolithic microservices oriented best suited for your bussines related to a cloud infrastructure recommendation and
  • Low and/or High Fidelity Wireframes.  Our team will create clickable wireframes in order to get a better sense of the information architecture and usability of the app. 
  • Project Schedule & Team Plan. The team and resources needed are calendarized in order to complete the project.
  • Cost Proposal

Next Up in This Series

So far, we’ve talked about what happens after you, the client, contacts Making Sense for a software/site project.  You’ve learned how important it is to us to get the terms right, and how many different factors play a role in setting up the cost estimate and the time frame. As the Discovery phase winds down, our team is ready to start working and diminishing risks.

In the next post in this series, we’ll talk about the Development phase, where things start to take shape on your project.