What is Software Discovery & Strategic Planning?

Every Big Fish app development project starts with a Discovery and Strategic Planning phase.

Software Discovery and Planning is similar to creating the blueprint for a new home. Discovery is the information gathering process, and Strategic Planning creates the blueprint.

With the blueprint for your app in hand, our designer and developers (or any developers you choose to hire) are ready to get started. Without this critical step we would be at a full stop.

Why Software Discovery & Strategic Planning is Necessary

Pausing to ensure the team you hire actually knows what you need, and has a plan in place, is a very wise investment of time.

You will save money that would otherwise be spent fixing misunderstandings. You’ll dramatically reduce risks that you would take on if embarking without upfront research, and you set your project up for success.

Because your development team is clear on what is getting built you’ll also have an accurate idea of the time and cost involved. The less they know, the more they must guess. This guesswork results in time and cost overruns, and worse.

If you really think about it – how could a team develop software without taking these steps?

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What Happens During Discovery and Strategic Planning

At Big Fish we collaborate with your team to:

  • Establish your project goals
  • Set a budget
  • Define user profiles
  • Create and prioritize the feature list for version one
  • Determine the technical and other requirements
  • Create the project plan and timeline

Discovery starts with some upfront information gathering by our team via phone and email.

We’ll then spend a half or full day with your team, followed by a few days on our own, developing the technical plans and documentation.

We’ll review the plan together and make needed modifications. When done, we are ready to get started on design and development.

(The smallest applications we develop involve a less time-consuming Discovery and Planning process.)

How Long Does Software Discovery and Strategic Planning Take

For very small projects, this process is done within a week. For typical projects, Discovery and Strategic Planning requires three to four weeks. We will let you know up front.

The Deliverables

The software blueprint we create includes everything needed to start designing and developing your application. We will also provide a quote so you know the cost up front. Depending on how comprehensive the system is that we are creating a blueprint for, it will include most or all of the following:

  • Product vision statement
  • Basic user profiles
  • List of features and functionality
  • System architecture diagram
  • Technical and infrastructure requirements (ex. hosting, database, security)
  • Time estimate in weeks
  • Project fee based on the defined scope
  • Larger projects may include wireframe designs for a couple of the main screens

Discovery & Strategic Planning FAQ

Who, from our company, should attend the Discovery meeting?

You should involve your project leader and any key decision makers who will need to provide input. The last thing you want is “Stakeholder Swoop and Poop” that requires your team to hire us for another round. We also can’t stress enough the importance of having at least one person in the room who will use your app. Leaving users of your software out of the conversation is a recipe for failure. IF this is not possible, the next best option is to include someone who deeply understands, and can represent your users.

Who does Big Fish involve?

In strategic planning, Big Fish involves a project manager, developers and a designer. The discovery meeting will be attended by the project manager and at least one developer.

You charge for this, is that normal?

Yes, a fee for Discovery and Strategic Planning is common practice in the software development industry (and others). The fee varies depending on the complexity of the project and time to complete.

But we might hire you later. Why not do it for free for a chance of future business?

A lot of time and expertise by highly paid engineers and technologists is involved in developing a plan for your software. At the end, we hand over the plan to your team, you can take it and run, if you want. This level of consulting would not be sustainable under a “free” model.

We can hire your team to create the plan, and then walk away without developing it?

Yes, this is a service of its own without a long term contract. We understand that some companies need to go through this information gathering process to validate their idea and secure a formal budget. You might not be ready to proceed with development right away. The Strategic Planning process is also a fantastic way to experience working with Big Fish, without a long term contract.

What are your payment terms?

Software Discovery and Planning is paid upfront before we begin.

Do the deliverables remain the intellectual property of Big Fish, or are rights transferred to our company?

We don’t believe in charging for work and then claiming ownership of that work, or waiving licenses over your head. You pay, we do the job, you own the deliverables free and clear.

We just want a quote to develop our app, if we send you a feature list will you give us a quote?

Your list of features (probably a one-pager, right?) is a grain of sand compared to what our team needs to get a full picture of what we are developing. It would be misleading, expensive and risky to base a quote off your jotted down list of features, without further thought or discussion. If you’d like a ballpark estimate we’d be happy to help. Just visit our get started page to request a no-obligation and, no-charge consultation.

We are in a rush, can we skip this process?

No. Please re-read this article from the beginning.

Ready to Get Started?

If you haven’t already had a consultation with our team please request one here. We will answer your questions and explain the next steps to get your Discovery and Strategic Planning scheduled.

If you’ve already talked to us and are ready to start the Strategic Planning process, please reach out, or send us a message via our contact page.


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Team Big Fish

Team Big Fish

Big Fish is a full service app design and development company in Tampa, Florida. We help innovative companies create technology that sets themselves a part in their industry. Please visit our Get Started page if you’d like more information about working with our team!
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