Discovery as a door opener for new Project

When a new project is started, everyone is usually full of anticipation and motivated to get started right away in order to "really get things done" and be successful. This enthusiasm is absolutely good and important, but above all it is important to maintain it throughout the entire project.

As an agency, we accompany many projects in parallel, some of them even from the very beginning. Again and again we notice: One of the biggest sticking points is the preparation and work prior to the actual start of the project. If there is a lack of understanding, coordination and information here, this can be felt for a long time during the project and can make the work more difficult. Therefore, we at undpaul have developed a method with our Discovery Workshop, which helps to ensure a good and coordinated start to every new project.

Discovery vs. Discovery

There are a lot of meanings and definitions for the term "Discovery". In our understanding, we divide Discovery into the Discovery Workshop and the Discovery Phase. Both have in common that they take place prior to the actual development and project work. The main difference is the time frame and therefore the depth and scope in which the content is elaborated.

During the Discovery Workshop as the first step into a project, the focus is on getting to know the participants and the project, a common understanding of the goals and framework conditions as well as the general basis for the upcoming collaboration. In the second step (depending on the size of the project), the requirements are formulated more concretely in a Discovery Phase and the user experience of the site as well as the target group (analysis) are taken into consideration.

What do I get out of a Discovery Workshop?

Especially at the beginning of new partnerships, we often have to convince our customers to do a Discovery Workshop. Again and again we hear arguments like:

  • "We already have our requirements written down."
  • "This costs a lot of money and we don't have a website (or a product) in the end."
  • "Our project manager is already doing this / has all the information available."
  • "Our requirements are described by us down to the smallest detail."

So why is a Discovery Workshop so useful and important? Simply put, to reduce risk, build trust, and develop a common goal or understanding of goals.

Let's make it a little more specific with some examples:

  • Only a reasonable solution will be successful and also make the project successful. But this requires a project team that fully understands the goals and requirements. This means on the one hand to have the same understanding of the goals and on the other hand to see the requirements in context in order to bring in the best solutions and alternatives at any time.
  • If the goals are clear and unambiguous for the entire project team, the team has "Purpose & Direction", so to speak, then decisions can be made much faster and also better in everyday work.
  • In addition, we like to recommend our clients to see the Discovery Workshop as a way of getting to know the agency. With the smaller own project, the cooperation and sympathy can already be tested in the real "working world".

Hands-On: Content and tools

For a Discovery Workshop, we have come up with a question collection that applies well in most projects. Basically, we divide the question collection into three areas:

  1. The area from the client's point of view mainly deals with the overall goals.
  2. The project area includes everything that concerns the project or product itself. From this the requirements result later.
  3. The framework area covers the basic framework, e.g. technical requirements but also time and budget plan.
Questions for a Discovery Workshop (German only)

Most of our Discovery Workshops take place remotely - also totally unrelated to the current Corona situation. We use a video conference in combination with a collaborative meeting tool. Where we have found no relevant difference between the different videoconferencing tools for our Discovery Workshop, we currently prefer to use Miro for the collaborative creative process and documentation.

Example agenda of a Discovery Workshop in Miro (German only)


The main thing is to do it!

There is something new to learn in every Discovery Workshop. However, as with many workshops and preparatory work, there is no "right or wrong" in methods and execution. The very most important point is: do a Discovery when starting a new project! The time you put into preparation so often makes the work go more smoothly and successfully as the project progresses.

Simone Oppermann
  • Scrum-Masterin
  • Account-Managerin

Simone gehört seit 2020 zum festen undpaul-Team. Bereits 2012 war sie als Studentin bei uns und hat für ihre Masterarbeit eine responsive Drupal-Seite gebaut.

Neue Dinge kennenlernen macht Spaß, sagt sie. So hat Simone u. a. Zertifizierungen als Scrum Masterin und Eventmanagerin.

Wenn Zeit und Budget es zulassen, ist sie auf Reisen irgendwo in der Welt zu finden.