The value of the Discovery workshops: What are the main benefits for the client? part 1

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Most of the time, before starting the project, clients don't see the point in taking part in the Discovery workshops, assuming that the most important things are included in the brief. However, as the name suggests, the brief is only a general description that shows more or less what the whole process would look like; it doesn't give us further context on the topic being discussed. At Inwedo, most of the projects we're involved in are mission-critical, such as key business processes, so it's important for both the client and our team to fully understand the situation and prepare tailored insights for the road ahead.

Contents:

  1. The value of the Discovery workshops: What are the main benefits for both the client and the team?

    1. Context in design thinking
    2. Workshops help to create a friendly atmosphere
    3. Mutual responsibility for actions taken
    4. Why? Look at an idea from a different point of view and perspective
    5. Success criteria
    6. Visualization
    7. Planning
  2. What topics are explored during the workshop? What would the whole process look like?

    1. The workshops allow you to define the starting point
    2. Combination of context and knowledge
    3. Stages of work
    4. Building relationships
  3. What aspects of design thinking methodology did we incorporate into our Discovery workshops?

    1. Beginning of the workshops
    2. After the workshops
    3. What is ideation for?
    4. Conclusions

The workshops also allow the client time and space to take a deeper dive into the project, without any daily distractions such as social media or tasks that need to be done. Additionally, creating and developing a new project shouldn’t be a journey that you need to face alone. During the Discovery workshops, both the client and our team members come up with new perspectives and ideas that may turn out to save time and money further down the line. The workshop proves to be not only the initial stage of the project, but also a huge investment in its future development.

Context in design thinking

During the workshops, our team has enough time to see and understand the project through the client’s eyes. It’s crucial to not only fully understand the project itself, but also the idea behind it, as well as the industry in which the client operates. All these things are beneficial for both sides, since they will help us to design a solution, rather than software which is only a tool.

chris-karolczak-inwedo-explain-how-important-is-to-understand-the-project-the-idea-and-the-clients-industry
Krzysztof Karolczak, COO

Workshops help to create a friendly atmosphere

This is one of the most important things for us at Inwedo. We strongly believe that building a friendly relationship is vital, since it puts you at ease during workshop sessions and also while building a thriving partnership. Mutual empathy and the confidence to freely express your feelings and ideas without hesitation is the most important thing in terms of our future communication.

Mutual responsibility for actions taken

Through understanding the client’s perspective, the world in which they operate, the subtleties of the industry, and specialized vocabulary, one team is formed – everyone involved is a part of it. This understanding creates mutual empathy and the ability to take responsibility for solving a specific problem, instead of just building a tool to solve it. It also gives us the courage to share ideas, even if they are unconventional. All this affects the quality of the end solution.

Why? Look at an idea from a different point of view and perspective

At Inwedo, we believe that the first and most important thing to do is to focus on understanding what the real problem is and the idea behind the whole project. By combining business, industry, and technical perspectives, we discover solutions that were hidden at the beginning – resulting in simpler and sometimes more effective actions. It’s often difficult to go beyond the original idea, because you want to get into the details as soon as possible. The workshop is a safe space for exploring this, even if it comes full circle back to the original idea.
– Krzysztof

Success criteria

If everyone understands this “Why?” on a deeper level, it becomes possible to ask the main question behind the whole project, which is: “How will we know that we have achieved success?” What will be the impact of our actions now or in the future? What will change, and what will remain the same? Which criteria are we going to measure during the project? This reduces the risk and gives everyone an easy way to see if we’re going in the right direction during the project.

Visualization 

Most of us are visual learners, so visualizing the solution in the form of models or clickable mock-ups allows us to reach an even deeper level of understanding and detail about what we want to do. It is precisely the knowledge and understanding developed during the workshop that makes it possible to draw key mock-ups within 14 days after the workshop. For the artist, there’s nothing better than seeing their own idea on paper.

Planning 

Software development is an iterative process; therefore, the starting point is very important. During the workshop, or even before the first line of code is written, you can discuss all the basic assumptions: 

  • time-consuming external dependencies (e.g. integrations); 
  • materials that are worth preparing and which, if missing, may slow down the work, resulting in unknown risks;
  • the first plan implementations; etc. 

The starting point is important to us, so these talks are a great introduction to begin the whole process.

design-thinking

What topics are explored during the workshop? What would the whole process look like?

If you’re still not convinced whether it’s worth attending the workshop, or you’d like to know how the whole process will look, don’t worry: we know how important it is to prepare a precise plan that will be executed step by step. Below, you’ll see what the whole process will look like, and which aspects we will focus on during the workshop.

The workshops allow you to define the starting point 

Define the place you want to start from, but also the place that you want to reach in the process. A suboptimal starting point means an additional cost for the client. Sometimes it turns out that the product idea is unworkable from a business perspective, unverified, or too big. Good questions reveal the blind spots in a project.

Discovery Workshops help Clients organize their thoughts and expectations around their project. When initial ideas take shape through first mockups, features are prioritized and reflected on a roadmap – the end goal becomes more tangible. Additionally, a clear vision of what will be waiting at the end of the development journey results in a better understanding of the project budget. That’s why planning further product growth becomes much more predictable. In one sentence: a detailed project outline paired with a team equipped with the right context helps increase Clients’ awareness not only of the development journey ahead but the whole buying process in general.

 Agata-Solnica-comments-on-the-customers-costs-related-to-the-purchase-of-a-service-in-a-software-house
Agata Solnica, Head of Growth

Combination of context and knowledge 

We can learn about the ins and outs of the industries we’re working with, which are normally beyond the scope of our knowledge. We participate in many different projects, from many different industries: alarm systems at nuclear power plants, soil remediation, and even film production. Each industry has its own language and challenges that need to be understood first. The workshops are an opportunity to get to know the industry, paving the way for a better solution.

Stages of work

  1. Ideation – This is the time when we dive deep into the idea behind the whole project. During the process, we’re able to build a broader picture due to our focus on brainstorming and design thinking methodology, which we use on a daily basis.
  2. Validation – This is one of the most important elements, because here we schedule the whole project. However, we try to break it down into the smallest steps possible, e.g. 3-month periods.
  3. Creation – This is the time when we begin work on the project, by preparing all the necessary materials.

Building relationships 

As you already know, at Inwedo, we focus mainly on empathy and the client’s trust. This is why, during the workshops, we’ll have the chance to get to know each other. Before the pandemic, workshops normally lasted for 2-3 working days, but during these difficult times, we have had to adapt to the situation.

We organize online workshops using the available tools (Zoom/Miro/Google Docs/Figma/others). There are dozens of online tools that definitely facilitate online collaboration and file sharing.

During the first year of the pandemic, we organized 8 remote workshops, so we have quite a lot of experience with this. We understand that remote meetings present certain challenges, so we’ve managed to prepare shorter sessions (e.g. 4-hour meetings instead of 8-hour ones). As a result, everyone will stay focused for a longer period of time. However, if you found yourself getting tired and didn’t manage to take in everything you need, don’t worry – our sessions are recorded, so you can come back to them any time you want.

The whole schedule is carefully planned, so everyone knows what’s happening right now and when others will join the project.

Finally, after the workshops, we’ll present you with some example models and mock-ups, so you can see how the project would look. For a client, it’s one of the best (if not the best) moments of the workshops, because you can finally see the main “body” of your project.

What aspects of design thinking methodology did we incorporate into our Discovery workshops?

discovery-workshops-the-process

Undoubtedly, the design thinking method has plenty of advantages, but you may be wondering: What are the main rules that we use during our Discovery workshops? Here are just a few of them:

Beginning of the workshops:

  1. We try to understand as many things as possible: the industry, process, idea, project, our potential customers, and the reason we got to this point. The more we know at the start, the better our results will be. Knowledge is power!
  2. Define the main user journey: We try to focus as much as possible on the emotions and feelings that our potential customer would experience when using our design.
  3. Process mapping or story mapping: If we have a little more time, we can also prepare a map which will visualize the whole process. Process maps show a series of events that produce an end result. It’s good to plan everything on paper, but it’s even better to visualize it.
  4. Business goals and priorities: This is also an important thing to do, since it will assure you that the end product will work, even if its scale increases 10-fold. Strategic goals are very important, but prioritizing them demands cooperation and critical thinking. During our workshops, we will be able to help you prioritize which tasks should be done ASAP, and which can be scheduled for later stages of the project. 
  5. Definition of success: Defining your success is a key part in the design thinking method, since it will show you whether you’re going in the right direction.

After the workshops:

  1. You will receive a report just two weeks after the workshops. This will remind you of everything that we discussed during the workshops, because time is money, right?
  2. Road map + timeline: You will be able to see your project laid out on a timeline. We will also give you a budget for the whole project. The road map is a great strategic plan that will allow you to see each milestone on the way to achieving our common goal. Each workshop culminates in a timeline as well, so you can quickly check when a particular part of the project will be finished. 
  3. Wireframes & designs: screen drawings or pictures and mock-ups to accurately represent the actual look.
  4. Technology recommendations: The best programs, programming languages, and many, many more.

What is ideation for?

It’s good to hear the original story, so we can truly immerse ourselves in your project. As we stated earlier on, the more knowledge we have at the start, the better our results will be, so don’t worry about telling us your story. Even the craziest ones deserve to be heard!

If you’re still not convinced, here are some words from our Swedish client:

It was fun, interesting, and a good start in Lodz – happy that they came to Lodz before the pandemic started! Over the 3 days, we managed to leave no stone unturned and have all the necessary discussions. The team really understood what the project is all about.

The ideation stage also covers the following key elements:

  1. Analysis of non-ideal situations: This will help us to prepare for the problems that we might face during the whole process, so that from the beginning we expect the unexpected.
  2. Monetization models – Before we start a project, it would be good to know which monetization models you would prefer to use in order to generate revenue. Whether it be in-app advertising, CPC or banner/video ads, there are multiple models that you can use, so make sure that you already know more or less which ones you would like to use. 

Conclusions

So there you have it! We hope you’ll find plenty of useful things in this article about design thinking in the IT industry. To sum up, we highly encourage you to try our Discovery workshops, and please don’t forget to check out our other articles that you may find useful.