What is a Business Discovery Phase?

April 18, 2019 Teresa Traub

Two children gazing at the stars with a telescope

A discovery phase (Phase 0) is easier and more valuable than you think. 

But some clients find this out the hard way. They skip over this critical phase and go straight into implementation. This often derails the success of their projects and causes them to miss opportunities. 

Why do a discovery phase? 

At Appirio, we believe in planning, because a goal without a plan is wishful thinking. We help our clients set up their CRM strategy and transform their businesses - ultimately, saving them time and money.

Planning is everything, but companies who race to execution miss the mark on delivering amazing digital experiences. The numbers back this up: 

43% of businesses that utilize CRM are failing to use even half of their CRM systems correctly” -  Salesforce study

At Appirio, we believe four pillars support a successful project: 

  • Implementation Success - Delivering on time, on budget, and with the right solution and ongoing access to information.
  • User Success - Driving user adoption through positive experiences and providing support to make the new platform the standard for all users. 
  • Operational Success - Improving efficiency and streamlining key processes to help employees work smarter and be more agile. 
  • Financial Success - Implementing technologies, strategies, and solutions that increase ROI and lead to financial wins. 

Focusing on just one or not considering all of these pillars will create a gap between your expected outcomes and actual results. To avoid this common pitfall and maximize our clients’ success, we encourage them all to start with Phase 0 before implementation. This critical discovery stage is where we work together to understand our clients’ goals and devise a strategy with tangible action items and deliverables. 

Seamlessly transition into implementation 

We’ve categorized the deliverables into five key activities. Which activities we’ll leverage for you will depend on the scope and goals of your project. The five key activities are: 

VISION MAP - A customer experience best practice. Creating a vision map aligns different stakeholder groups, assesses your organization’s current strategy, and establishes a new cross-functional strategic vision. 

PERSONAS/ JOURNEY MAPS - A deep dive into the customer perspective relative to actions, emotions, decision points, and engagement methods. This exercise highlights process and technology opportunities that can have a dramatic effect on the customer experience at any and all points of the customer lifecycle.

ART OF THE POSSIBLE - With the guidance of Appirio Digital experts, turn your ‘art-of-the-possible’ customer experience ideas into reality. Art of the Possible is a rapid approach to visualizing future state “blue sky” thinking that can help shape and guide your digital strategy. This key step focuses on business process, design, and technology, creating a blueprint for business and technical solution recommendations, epic development, and application design.

CAPABILITIES - Our customer and employee journeys help us determine what capabilities our clients need to create better experiences. Capabilities can include technology, process, data, engagement channels, and even people or personalities.

EXECUTION ROADMAP - A structured prioritization effort applying experiential, financial, and other measures to the future state customer experience recommendations. The effort is determined by technical and/or organizational dependencies and developing an actionable roadmap to drive downstream project work. This effort includes matching the technology and change management work to the delivery method -- such as crowdsourcing, remote, or traditional project models -- that best fits.

Discovery phase benefits

  • Accelerate future implementation projects 
  • Achieve business alignment and engagement, early in the program
  • Create accountability for success through key stakeholder involvement from Day 1
  • Present an experience vision for employees and customers that guides technology investment and effort
  • Provide a clear understanding of the scope and effort:
    • Data Migration & Integrations
    • Change Enablement & Training
    • Process Standardization
  • Identify and mitigate risks early
  • Identify key needs upfront for successful user adoption
  • Identify and account for technical challenges, opportunities, and dependencies 

A discovery phase helps business leaders define their goals and how they’re going to achieve them. An objective third party can facilitate communications, overcome obstacles, and encourage stakeholders to collaborate and prioritize work based on budget. Just like you can’t build a house without a blueprint, you can’t successfully implement new technologies and inspire adoption without a long-term vision and roadmap. 

About the Author

Teresa Traub

Teresa (Tere) Traub joined Appirio after 20+ years of building and scaling global businesses. In her most recent role, she helped the University of Texas System develop an educational marketplace on the Salesforce platform. Before that, she managed B2B and International Outreach and Admissions groups and was also part of the EdTech Innovation Group at Kaplan University.

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