Product Discovery Process For Digital Product Companies
Product discovery process is a process to validate your users' problems and needs, before starting development avoiding unnecessary costs.
In this article, we explore some ideas to help you set up your initial product discovery process. This is by no means a one-size-fits-all receipt, but we hope it will provide you with some ideas to design your own product discovery process or at least a basic starting point that you can tweak going forward.
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First of all, if you landed on this article because you were looking for information about Product Discovery, please check some of our previous articles before reading further:
- What is Product Discovery?
- Product Discovery Framework
- FAST Method – for getting started with Product Discovery
- Product Discovery Principles
- Product Discovery Practices
Now, it is time to design your own product discovery process.
Design Your Own Product Discovery Process
To effectively plan and run your product discovery process you must understand the different types of activities it is composed of, their duration, dependencies and required people.
Some exploration activities and validation experiments will require more time than others to prepare and different running times. Some experiments will take longer than a week to prepare and execute, while others might take just a few days.
You must also account for the time required to recruit customers, and users and to block stakeholders’ and management’s agendas.
It doesn’t make much sense to define a specific product discovery process upfront. What really works for us is to have a clear goal and explore and validate as fast as possible.
It is very unlikely that you can define upfront how long is it going to take to explore the problem space, validate the solution space, or if you will have to go back to exploring after initial validation.
So, rather than a time-boxed approach, we recommend a continuous approach with certain checkpoints along the way.
Example of Product Discovery Process
In general, it is good practice to provide some certainty about what is going to happen, especially if this is your first time with Product Discovery.
You must provide clarity about the plan, although you know it will change frequently depending on what you learn along the way, at least you have a starting point.
You might also need to book people’s agendas in advance. So the overall process might be a bit wasteful at the beginning, but this is better than nothing, and as people get used to it you will be able to improve and make it more agile.
In the example below you can see a possible setup of a 7-week product discovery process for a new product idea or big theme in the product roadmap.
We get started by kicking off the product discovery process. Here, we set up the team, align with management and stakeholders, agree on the product discovery goal and draft a plan for the upcoming weeks to make sure everybody is on the same page, agendas are booked and customers/users are recruited for research and validation.
In the second week, we can devote most of our time to investigating the problem space, gathering data, researching the market and preparing interviews, surveys or other research techniques for the upcoming week.
The goal of this week is to identify our research questions. Those riskiest assumptions for which we don’t have any evidence.
During this week of the product discovery process, we spend most of our time with customers and/or users getting answers to our research questions.
We might also launch some research that might take a while to get results from, like a survey or market research.
Assuming we didn’t learn something that forces us to go back to square one, now it is time to run an ideation workshop and select the best ideas for validation.
Time to start prototyping and testing with users.
Here, again, depending on what you want to validate it might take more than a week to prepare and run it. But, if you want a tip to make sure you don’t build big stuff here, is that you focus on your assumptions again.
What are the questions you need answers to?
What is the minimum thing you can build to answer those questions? Are they desirability, usability or feasibility risks?
Another round of validation. Also, perhaps to analyze results from longer tests which begin the previous week.
Last week of the product discovery process. It is time to decide what to do with your insights. Shall you kill, pivot or persevere?
A product discovery process with fixed time-boxing can be hard to implement and counterproductive.
What is important, without a doubt, is to provide visibility, ensure that we incorporate all the necessary feedback, that we analyze the learnings, we correct the course if necessary and that we are all aligned towards the objective of the product discovery process.
So, you should plan for some recurrent meetings. As you can see in the figure we schedule the following meetings, as well as the Daily Planning meeting:
- Weekly Planning
- Weekly Review
- Strategic Review
Kanban for Product Discovery
In order to keep track of all your product discovery process tasks and dependencies, we strongly recommend you manage your work with a proper Kanban System for Product Discovery.
Stakeholders, managers, other teams and your own team members need visibility of the process and the learnings.
Will You Succeed Or Fail As A Leader In Designing Your Digital Product Company?
If you want to know more about your company's digital product development maturity just take this scorecard. It will help you to identify all the different areas that you can improve and build a truly Digital Product Company.