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What is product discovery?

Definition: Product discovery is the process of identifying and evaluating potential new product ideas, and determining which ideas have the greatest potential to meet the needs and wants of the target market. 

Product discovery is an early stage and the foundation of the product development process because it answers “what to build and why.” 

This “make or break” project discovery process decides if the project should go ahead, saving resources such as money, time, and effort in the developing phase.

Product discovery process

The product discovery process has 4 stages:

1. Understand what your customers need but don’t have

The most desirable product or feature is the one that solves a burning problem efficiently. Therefore, product discovery starts with understanding and defining your customers' high-priority needs and problems.

 Conducting research through competition analysis, data analysis, surveys, etc., is the best way to get in customers' shoes.

 After spotting the problem, the team can easily define the need with this formula:

“X needs Y, so Z”

An example: “Project managers need a solution that will help them save time on organizing and prioritizing their daily tasks.”

The problem/need must be a big deal for customers. 

To double check, the team conducts a SWOT analysis or asks these questions: 

  • Is this problem a major pain point? 
  • How much value will we bring if we solve it? 

2. Ideate potential solutions for their biggest problems/needs

Bringing members of the team with different specialties (designer and developer) can help brainstorm and find various solutions to the problems/needs defined beforehand.

The team can define user-friendly and straightforward solutions with this formula:

“ If X had Y, they could Z”

An example: “If project managers had a to-do list sent to them every day, they could save time on organizing their day.”

3. Prioritize

In this stage, the team decides on the most efficient solution and proposes a way to incorporate it into a feature/product.

An example, “For project managers to spend less time in the morning organizing their daily tasks and meetings, we need to introduce a “daily update” feature.

The team then needs to specify what the feature should look like

For example, the project manager will receive a daily update from Mindmesh on how many cards they have in the inbox and how many meetings they have in their calendar in the morning. They’ll start their day knowing what to do.

4. Test & create a roadmap

The last step is testing the feature/product through A/B testing, customer interviews, etc., to get feedback directly from the customers. 

Once the team has completed the testing phase, they create a roadmap (definition of key features, resources, milestones, timetable) for the development.

Who participates in the product discovery process

The participants in the product discovery process are:

Working together on every stage of the discovery and development process saves time and decreasing the risk for future errors.

The results are ideas from different angles through cross-collaboration and iterations.

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Article FAQs

What is the difference between product discovery and scrum product discovery?
Traditional product discovery includes just the development team, while scrum product discovery includes various teams and relies on self-organization, cross-collaboration, etc.
What is the difference between product discovery and product strategy?
A product strategy comes after product discovery. While product discovery focuses on finding the right product, a product strategy is a plan for developing, marketing, and fitting the project into the overall business strategy.
What is the difference between product discovery and product roadmaps?
A product roadmap is the outcome of product discovery. It presents everything stakeholders, and PMs should know about the latest product, for example, implementation, USP, and competition analysis.
Who is in charge of the product discovery process?
The product team and manager make the final decision before development, but it’s a team effort to get there.

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