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  • Writer's pictureDušan Pavić

How Can I Kickoff Product Discovery Like a Pro? A Step-by-Step Guide

As a Product Manager in the world of IT development, your role is crucial in ensuring that the products your team builds align with customer needs and business objectives. Product discovery is the foundation of creating successful products. It involves understanding your target market, defining user problems, and ideating potential solutions. To help you kick off your product discovery process like a pro, we've created a step-by-step guide with templates to get you started.


dual track agile

Step 1: Define Your Product Discovery Goals


Before diving into product discovery, clarifying your objectives is essential. Define what you aim to achieve during this phase:


  • Understand user needs and pain points - think from your customer's shoes. If you don't have any experience with them or your product is brand new, you need to organize some user research sessions so that you can better understand what problems they face!

  • Identify market opportunities - once you know the pains and needs, you should research how your competitors are fixing this for your target group. There are a few ways to create this overview, but feel free to get in touch if you need help with this.

  • Prioritize feature ideas - once you know the problems, you should think about solutions. But these can be many, so you need to prioritize them. I recommend here the focus on MVP!

  • Validate assumptions - before you begin delivery (implementation of the solution) make sure you validate the assumptions first. It would be risky if your assumptions were not backed by data.

  • Create a shared vision with your team - Martin L. King began talking about his dream with words: I BELIEVE! Put down on mikro-level, you should also make sure that your team believes in your vision as well!


Another very important point, make sure you have arranged all necessary team sessions that will support you in your discovery process. It is recommended to keep the discovery cycle weekly!


Step 2: Assemble Your Cross-Functional Team


Product discovery is a collaborative effort. Gather a cross-functional team consisting of developers, designers, marketing specialists, and other relevant stakeholders. This diversity ensures a well-rounded perspective on the project. My suggestion would be the "Product Trio", as Marty Cagan calls it in his INSPIRED book:

  • Product Manager

  • UX Designer

  • Lead dev

This way you ensure that you have someone who covers the business perspective (PO), the designs and prototypes (UX), and the tech (DEV). The goal is to get the stories ready from all 3 perspectives, after which you can say that it is Ready for Refinement.


If you'd like to learn some real-life examples or seek guidance, reach out to me!


Step 3: Create a Product Discovery Document


A Product Discovery Document (PDD) is your blueprint for the discovery process. It should include the following sections:


### 1. Problem Statement

Describe the problem you intend to solve in one or two concise sentences. This section is used for better understanding the value behind your implemented solution. Also, it serves as a great reminder of "Why" you have implemented certain features. Use a template like:


**Problem Statement Template:**

  • Problem: [Describe the problem]

  • Impact: [Explain the impact of this problem]

  • Our Goal: [State what you want to achieve]


### 2. User Personas

Identify your target user personas. Depending on your industry, product, and needs in general, create a user persona template that includes demographics, goals, pain points, and needs. Here's a basic user persona template:


**User Persona Template:**

  • Name:

  • Job Title:

  • Pain Points:

  • The outcome they seek:


### 3. Competitive Analysis

Research your competitors to understand how they solve similar problems. Use a competitive analysis template to compare features, strengths, and weaknesses.


**Competitive Analysis Template:**

  • Competitor 1:

    • Features:

    • Strengths:

    • Weaknesses:

  • Competitor 2:

    • Features:

    • Strengths:

    • Weaknesses:


### 4. User Journey Mapping

For larger features, visualize the user's journey from problem discovery to solution adoption. This helps in identifying pain points and opportunities for improvement. Also, make sure you update it every now and then. This will serve as a great overview of what is implemented, what for, and for whom.


**User Journey Map Template:**

Example:

user journey









### 5. Hypotheses and Assumptions

List the assumptions and hypotheses you want to test during the discovery phase. Make sure that you do your research before concluding the list because you should make sure that you have also verified it and backed it with data!


**Hypotheses and Assumptions Template:**

  • Assumption/Hypothesis 1: [Describe]

  • Assumption/Hypothesis 2: [Describe]


Step 4: Conduct User Research


To understand your users better, conduct user research. You can use surveys, interviews, or analytics data. There are several methodologies for this but this needs to be covered in a separate blog under the same topic. Nevertheless, you should see this as an ongoing process that will be repeated every now and then.


**User Research Plan Template:**

  • Research Objective:

  • Methodology:

  • Participants:

  • Findings:


Step 5: Ideation and Brainstorming


Once you know the problems you want to solve, get to the brainstorming! Gather your team for an ideation session. Encourage creative thinking and generate potential solutions. This topic is also too big and important to cover here so we will create a separate blog on the subject. In any case, you should use techniques like mind mapping or brainstorming for this.


**Ideation Session Template:**

  • Date:

  • Participants:

  • Ideas Generated:

  • Selected Ideas:


Step 6: Prioritize Features


Use techniques like the MoSCoW method (Must-haves, Should-haves, Could-haves, Won't-haves) or a weighted scoring system to prioritize features based on user needs and business goals. Make sure that you have all relevant stakeholders here attending the prioritization to have their buy-ins. As there are also many technics how to do this, we named only a couple.


**Feature Prioritization Template:**

  • Feature:

  • Priority (MoSCoW):

  • Weighted Score:


Step 7: Create Prototypes and MVP


Design prototypes to visualize the product's potential. For web or mobile apps, you can use tools like Figma or Sketch. If applicable, plan for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to test the most critical features. This will save a lot of time and money in case you need to pivot the idea! Sit down with your team and select the features that are must-haves!


**Prototype and MVP Template:**

  • Prototype Link:

  • MVP Features:

  • MVP Timeline:


Step 8: Validation and Feedback


Share your prototypes and MVP with users (if B2C) or business owners (if B2B) for feedback. Collect their input and make necessary adjustments. Every comment from them counts so take a close look at each one of them. Many new ideas may come out of this phase that you never considered before!


**User Feedback Template:**

  • Feedback Source:

  • Feedback Summary:

  • Actions Taken:


Step 9: Refine the Product Roadmap


Based on user feedback and validation, refine your product roadmap and feature priorities. My favorite agile product roadmap is also the simplest one (see below).


**Product Roadmap Template:**

  • Now

  • Next

  • Later


Step 10: Present Your Findings


Last but not least, share the outcomes of your product discovery process with your team and stakeholders. Highlight key insights, user feedback, and the updated product roadmap. As mentioned above, create the discovery process as a loop that includes a regular repeating session like this one.


And again - remember that product discovery is an ongoing process, and it's essential to remain flexible and adapt to new information and changing market conditions. With the right approach and a collaborative team, you can create products that truly meet user needs and drive business success. Also note that some of these steps might not apply to your business so do not take it for granted, but see what out of it fits your needs.


To get some templates ready to use, check out this blog that we did before!

Also, as mentioned before, happy to directly get in touch and help you on your journey!

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