The start of a project is always the exciting part. There is lots of enthusiasm and energy, ideas are flying, and everyone’s jazzed to be getting started (plus, the realities of the project have not set in yet!)
It’s a good time to be you.
And it’s also a good time to run a product discovery workshop.
Today, we’re going to cover exactly what a product discovery workshop is, and the top 5 benefits for why you should consider running one.
Here we go!
What is a product discovery workshop?
A product discovery workshop is a step in the early planning phase of designing and developing a new digital product. This is an opportunity to outline all the core elements of your digital product. At the end of a product discovery workshop, you should have defined your:
- Business goals: what high-level business goal/initiative are you trying to impact?
- Product purpose: what’s the point of this specific product?
- Function and technology needed: what does this product have to do, and what technology are you going to use to do it?
- Target audience: who is this product for?
- User persona(s): who’s going to use this product?
- Success indicators/goals: how will you know if you’re successful?
Collectively, these six things should be defined before you start building because a change in any one of them can have a big impact on scope, timeline, and functionality. That’s why it’s worth taking the time to run a product discovery workshop early in the process.
Now that we have a clearer picture of what a product discovery workshop is, let’s dive into why the top 5 reasons to do one.
1. Deliver a better product
When you plan your product out carefully with a product discovery workshop, you’re a lot more likely to deliver a better project.
First, you’re thinking consciously about what the product needs to do. That tends to happen less as you get ensorcelled in the actual product delivery.
Second, you have everyone in the room early. This might be external parties, internal project, and product owners, lines of business heads, and even end-users. That’s a rarity as product development continues.
And third, you haven’t invested heavily in a direction yet, making you a lot less susceptible to the sunk cost fallacy that you will be later. A product discovery workshop gives you space early to think about what you need to build.
2. Reduce cost
Well-planned, intentional products cost less to build. There are fewer products, fewer tweaks, and last-minute changes, and fewer hours spent building something that is not fit for purpose.
Collectively, this makes the product faster to deliver (more on that in a second) and less expensive to build.
Here are just a few ways that a product discovery workshop can reduce cost:
- Reduce scope creep with a well-defined technology and function requirements.
- Better feature alignment and definition zeros product scope in on the features end-users care about, meaning you have to build less and thus, spend less.
- Team alignment prevents rework and changes — both of which can blow out the budget in a big way.
3. Get a product out the door faster
This will come as no surprise, but the old adage slow is smooth and smooth is fast applies here in a big way.
When you are under pressure, a product discovery workshop can feel like a waste of time. After all, you know what you are building! Why bother with this exercise?
In reality, though, you do not know what you are building. A product discovery workshop will help you get a product shipped sooner by:
- Identifying rabbit holes early and learning to avoid them.
- Clarifying what you’re building and why.
- Allow for rapid iteration early before the product team invests time and effort going in the wrong direction.
By taking the time to understand the product requirements early, you’ll inevitably save time later (even if it feels slow on the day).
4. Reduce product risk
Product risk is a major challenge. Big digital products can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention the substantial political capital and opportunity cost associated with their construction.
At the same time though, digital products have an alarming failure rate, costing organizations and people big time.
By running a product discovery workshop, you maximize the chances of that investment paying dividends and reduce the risk of your product tanking.
5. Increase the chances of building something your audience wants
We mentioned earlier that a lot of products fail. Do you know the number one problem?
The product does not work for the end-user to achieve the business goals.
There are very few examples of digital products that end-users do not like but end up successful anyways (Salesforce might be the exception).
For the vast majority of products, you need your end-user to actually want to use the product to make their lives easier, and by using the product, they drive towards achieving your overarching business objective.
That’s where the product discovery workshop comes in. By including end-users early on, creating that end-user persona early, and mapping out the functionality of the end-user, the product discovery workshop makes it a lot more likely that the end-user will actually get a product that works for them. And if you can drive end-user adoption, then your product is a lot more likely to be successful.
A product discovery workshop isn’t necessary. You can build incredible products without them. But here’s what we do know. When you DO run a product discovery workshop, you capture truly invaluable information. Information that will help you run your product development more effectively, reduce cost, reduce timelines, reduce risk, and help you build a better product for your end-users.
For us, the product discovery workshop is an integral part of the planning process.
The only question is: can you afford to skip yours?