by Steve Yatson

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series we laid out the purpose and process of Discovery, a phase we implement with every client to prepare their digital transformations. These first steps lead us to a clearly defined Statement of Work (SOW) and the supporting documents needed to finalize decisions and drive the larger project forward. Clients collaborate closely on building those documents and creating the SOW, typically through weekly meetings and regular interactions that include prototype and document demos.

Collaborative strategic and design sessions are at the core of every project. To solidify the vision we typically need to write some exploratory code, create proofs of concept, and create visual artifacts that provide a detailed definition of what the project will deliver.  For clarity of communication we produce large format living documents some of which were shown in Parts 1 and 2.

  • Landscape Diagram  (shown below)
  • Architecture Diagram  (shown in Part 2)
  • User Personas (shown in Part 1)
  • Journey Maps  (shown in Part 2)
  • Project Roadmap (shown in Part 1)
Example of a Landscape Diagram

Based on this knowledge, and our experience with a diverse range of clients over decades of work, we are able to recommend the best tools and frameworks to support the project. There are two important aspects to making these recommendations that I detail in our Guide to Digital Transformation - Off the Shelf vs. Custom blog post. The first is “Build vs. Buy.” Once we’ve identified a technology need, we look to determine if there is an existing product or service that can suffice. For example, we would likely recommend an existing payment service to a client rather than building and maintaining one internally from scratch.  The second is building tools to integrate with existing systems. For example, working with corporate IT to build and integrate a custom solution with an existing HR software.

We thrive on the most difficult challenges and hardest problems of our clients. For a complex application or system process we create a rough concept during the Discovery phase to get an idea of what tools and frameworks would be best suited for the project and to identify any unique and unforeseen aspects.  For example, one particular project we worked on called for a 3D data visualization of insect flight paths requiring multiple viewing angles, path selection, smoothing etc. Each user type required a unique visualization. A rough visualization using existing libraries, such as Matlab’s Quiver or Plotly combined with UX research, gave us the information we needed to estimate costs and timelines.

A 3D flight path visualization for proof of concept - Combining the client organizations scientific domain knowledge and our technical expertise through a collaborative Discovery process gives us a more accurate SOW and project plan.

The true value of working with productOps is having the right questions asked to establish where you are today, to create a vision for the future and a viable path to get there.  The SOW is a mutually reviewed and agreed upon document that defines the scope, plan and resources necessary to deliver the project requirements. For example:

  • Technical approach
  • Assumptions, risks and mitigation
  • Team and roles
  • Cost details
  • Sprint timeline and milestones

We always strive to mitigate risk and take advantage of opportunity. We are agile, which means we’re no strangers to pivots and unforeseen circumstances. The world changes rapidly (as we’ve all recently experienced!) Our expertise and experience allows us to be flexible and prepared, reaching our goals on time and with the highest quality deliverables.

If you’d like to embark on a Discovery with us, it’s a 2- to 8-week, low-risk engagement and costs range from $20k to $200k based on the complexity and expected depth. Contact us today to begin a conversation.

Oftentimes, clients will choose to continue the journey they’ve begun with us during the Discovery phase. Our design and development resources are located onshore in one location and we have many references of mutual success. In Part 4 of this series we’ll begin transitioning from the Discovery phase into a digital transformation implementation partnership.