Version 1.0An essential part of any service development project
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Designing a service is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. Before beginning the discovery phase, it is important to go through a pre-discovery phase to ensure the project is viable and that the objectives are well defined, stakeholders are identified and engaged, and the right team with the right skills is assembled.
Understand the policy intent
Before beginning the project, understand the overall policy intent of the service. This includes understanding the problem that the service is trying to solve and the goals that the organization hopes to achieve.
Define the scope of the project and objectives
Defining the scope and objectives of the project involves outlining the specific goals and deliverables of the service, as well as identifying any constraints, limitations and risks that may impact the project. This step helps to establish that all involved stakeholders have clear expectations and a shared understanding of what the service is intended to accomplish. It, therefore, needs to be very clear at a high level.
Identify and map out the stakeholders and decision-makers involved in the project. This includes identifying the internal stakeholders, external stakeholders, and IT suppliers.
Ensure that budgets are secured and that the project stays on track.
Engage stakeholders, including IT suppliers, to make sure that the service meets the needs of all stakeholders and that any issues can be quickly addressed. Also, assign a single point of contact with the service owner for the communication to be streamlined and any issues to be quickly addressed.
Form a project team and assign roles
Form a project team and assign roles and responsibilities to identify the personnel required for the service’s successful delivery and figure out their precise responsibilities. As a result, the team will have all relevant talents and expertise represented and everyone will know exactly what is expected of them.
Support, performance, and maintenance of the service
Determine who will be responsible for supporting, maintaining, and measuring the performance of the service once it has been launched, to address any issues that may arise.
Sign a memorandum of understanding
Signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) is a key step to ensure that all stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities and that the project stays on track.
Why the Discovery phase is important
The discovery phase is the initial stage of any service development and a crucial step in the design process; it allows for a deeper understanding of the problem that the service aims to solve, as well as the needs and expectations of the users who will be using it. This phase could last up to 8 weeks. The duration can vary depending on the complexity and novelty of the problem.
It is essential to make informed decisions and to ensure that the service is well-designed and successful.
Define the problem
Define the problem that needs to be solved and gather the necessary information and insights to set the foundation for the rest of the project. This is critical for the service being developed to be effective in addressing the problem and meeting the users’ needs.
During the discovery phase, the focus should be on gathering information, through user research, or interviews with business users and other stakeholders, to understand the problem. This may include:
- creating a user journey map of the as-is process
- talking to other departments and organizations
- identifying constraints (legislation, existing data systems, existing processes)
- understanding accessibility requirements
- considering the costs and benefits of solving the problem
- identifying potential risks, and challenges
Defining the users
Define the users to understand the problem and identify potential solutions. This includes identifying the demographics, goals, and pain points they may have with existing solutions, as well as gathering feedback and insights from them through methods such as user research, surveys, and usability test. By clearly defining the users, you can ensure that the service is tailored to meet their needs and provides a positive user experience.
Map Risks and Assumptions
Conduct user research and gather feedback from stakeholders to map out potential risks and assumptions, such as technical limitations or user adoption, to help make informed design decisions and mitigate issues before they arise. Assumptions, such as user needs or the potential impact of the service, should also be clearly defined and validated.
By mapping out risks and assumptions early on, the team can make informed decisions and build a stronger foundation for the service. On the other hand, making unjustified assumptions can lead to the development of unnecessary features or the absence of important ones, resulting in wasted resources. Furthermore, assumptions can lead to misunderstanding users’ needs, pain points, and context, which can result in a bad user experience for the targeted users. To make sure that the service is meeting user needs, assumptions must be tested through user research.
Set a SMART Goal
Setting a clear goal makes sure that the discovery phase is focused and effective. This goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). This will help keep the team on track and gather the information that is relevant and useful for the next steps of the project.
Avoid Design and Development
It is important to note that the discovery phase should not involve building or designing the service. Instead, the focus should be on gathering information and understanding the problem. This will ensure that the team is not prematurely committed to a solution and that the information gathered can inform the design and development of the service. Designing and developing prematurely based on assumptions could result in wasted resources or resources that are not allocated effectively.
Move Forward to the Design Phase
The Discovery phase is finished when the team has:
- gathered enough information and insights to make informed decisions about the design and development of the service
- a deep understanding of the problem that the service aims to solve and the specific needs of the target users
- clearly defined the Service’s scope, goals, features, and user experience
- assessed the technical feasibility of the service, including any limitations or constraints that may impact the design or development
- a detailed roadmap outlining the steps required to design, develop, and launch the service
- outlined a minimum viable product (MVP) that can be used to validate the concept with potential users, gather feedback, and make adjustments as needed
The Discovery phase is an iterative process, and it may require multiple rounds of research and validation before decisions are made.
The Discovery phase in a nutshell
The discovery phase is the first, and an important, stage of any service development, and is a crucial step in the design process to ensure that the service is well-designed and successful.
It allows for a deeper understanding of the problem that the service aims to solve, as well as the needs and expectations of the users who will be using it.
The phase could last up to 8 weeks, but the duration can vary depending on the complexity and novelty of the problem.
It defines the problem that needs to be solved and gathers the necessary information and insights to set the foundation for the rest of the project.
Additionally, defining the users, mapping out risks and assumptions, contacting user research setting a SMART goal, and avoiding design and development during the discovery phase, help to ensure that the team makes informed decisions and builds a strong foundation for the service.
The discovery phase is finished when the team has gathered enough information and insights to move forward to the design phase.