December 6, 2016

Planning a Project: The Rapid Discovery Phase

Written by Mike Bopp @mwbopp

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First, a little history...

We started Rapid Development Group as a group of people, each previously working at an agency that provided a range of services, from design and print, to technical implementation of a product, website or tool. We each felt this model contained way too much overhead for those simply looking for someone to implement and design a good website or product. And there are a healthy amount of people looking for such services. So our pitch was simple, we are group of developers ready to work directly with you to implement a site, as cleanly and efficiently as possible, cutting out all the unnecessary overhead often found in an agency. The client would pay for our time, and our rates would be comparatively low. Much of our development involves the use of Drupal, an open source content management system we have been involved in since it's infancy. This allows us to streamline the build out the common features of every project, and leverage contributed code of others for implementing common case feature requests.

This plan worked well for us, we gained steady work from those looking for lean means of website implementation. Through referrals we built ourselves an extensive portfolio of web site work ranging from full site implementation to small bug fixes and feature requests.

Scaling our team to meet demand has resulted in a group of ten developers, designers and web site administrators.

What we have learned

There are many small to mid-size projects where solutions have been researched and requirements well defined. Successful projects are usually spear-headed by someone in a project management position with strong technical expertise where results are clear and feasibility is strongly considered. Rapid Development Group’s clean, efficient, agile and lean development practices can lead to a great result and lower costs to the client.

But planning a project isn’t as simple as it may seem at first, and there are considerations, that while may seem trivial, can drastically effect the size and scope of the project. These inefficiencies tend to multiply with project size and can result in higher development costs, and longer project implementation timelines.

Aware of these potential pitfalls, our team has been working to find ways of making every project as successful, efficient and cost effective as possible.

Rapid Discovery Phase

For smaller projects with strict and limited budgets, a planning phase can seem like an unaffordable luxury. For a project that a client has been thoughtfully assembling requirements for, a planning phase can seem unnecessary. We too share this sentiment. But experience has taught us that even smaller projects can save time and money by working with the developer to create a feasible set of expectations.

With the information collected in this phase both parties can be confident in both what is being developed and how much it’s going to cost. Rapid Development Group wants to “get in your head“ and truly understand the goals.

Here is what we aim to accomplish in this phase.

  • Business goals, opportunities, and objectives
  • Project risks
  • Who is involved - Stakeholders
  • Project dependencies (APIs, etc)
  • Technical unknowns and how to solve them
  • Functional “Must Haves”
  • High level designs (wireframes)
  • Collecting example “user stories”, Audience
  • Solution Definition
  • Project Delivery Schedule and Agile sprint schedules depending on project size
  • Cost Proposal

A discovery phase doesn’t have to be a large engagement. For small enhancements the initial meeting may be all that is needed. Just as we always have, we want to cut as much overhead as possible and jumpstart your idea and introduce it to the world.

Discovery Deliverable

You may be wondering what we might provide as a result of this phase. Our goal is to provide you with all of the work, decisions, and comps developed as part of this phase. And while we hope Rapid Development Group will be a part of the next steps taken for this project, we also want to provide you with something you can use regardless of whether we are blessed with that opportunity.

The ultimate goal for any of our projects is to deliver 100 percent satisfaction. The only way to do this is know what the exact target is. A discovery phase is a valuable way for both us and our clients to form one team with one objective, and accomplish this objective as efficiently as possible. One of the best rewards in this industry is being a part of a successful project team. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure success for every one of our projects.

We'd love to chat about your next web or application project!