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Why use a discovery project and how it can help?

There are times when you might not yet be able to articulate defined outcomes for your project. Or some of the information and artefacts you need to address a problem statement might be missing.

When this happens, it’s always good to have some extra support. That’s why you want to find a provider that offers a “Discovery” service, so that together you can work to develop your project’s outcomes and ambitions.

“So how can discovery help me,” you might be wondering?

The key to a discovery project is that it provides an answer to your problem statement.

For example, a discovery project can be used to create the scope for a much larger project or programme.  The deliverables agreed for the discovery element can include a range of outcomes from high-level estimates for a piece of work through to the production of a business case or the creation of the baseline artefacts for a project. 

What is your problem statement?

Your problem statement is the reason why you require a discovery project to begin with. To get it right, you must ensure that the activity delivered by the discovery project provides the answer to your problem statement.

For example, if your problem statement is ‘I need to confirm any additional resourcing requirements for the 5 projects I have agreed to deliver by a week next Friday’ then the discovery project should deliver a high-level estimate of the effort and skillsets required so that you can use this to assess whether that can be met by your current resource pool.  You must ensure that you do not add additional scope that falls outside of this remit. For instance, to answer this question, there is no requirement to produce draft project plans, RAIDs etc – even though this may contain useful information – and if you attempt to get deliverables produced that are not required, it may provide little to no value.

How quickly does the problem statement need to be answered?

Answering this question will help you to ensure that you agree deliverables that are useful. For example, if you need a response within one week, then a requirement to produce a detailed plan for a complex programme of work will not be achievable, but a high-level estimate of the time / cost to deliver a piece of work could be.

What is your budget for a discovery project?

The budget you have will determine what type of resources can deliver the work and will also inform the timeframe in which it can be delivered and the amount / level of detail for the deliverables. 

For example, you may be required to use your own team members to deliver the work if you cannot take on any additional resource costs either through internal cost charges or from third parties.

Assessing the budget will also determine the rates (either internal or third party) that you can pay for different resources, the number of days effort that can be expended and whether any hardware / software / licensing costs can be incurred.

What will a Discovery Project provide you with?

Depending on the precise outcomes that are agreed for delivery, a Discovery can provide:

Scope definition

What are the objectives / goals and what tasks are required to deliver these?

Risks / Challenges / Opportunities

Capture of this should enable action to mitigate / optimise and inform decisions

Timelines / Milestones

How long will the work take to be delivered and what milestones are required to assure delivery / track progress


The resourcing, hardware, software, licensing, and third-party costs should be detailed to create the project budget

Communication / collaboration

The stakeholders should be identified, enabling you to implement an appropriate communication strategy and to identify when their input / approval is required

How to measure success

The Discovery Project should identify how successful delivery will be measured.


In summary, a Discovery Project can provide you with information and artefacts you need to address a problem statement whilst providing clarity on the time, effort, and costs of delivery. Fundamentally, it is designed to help our clients to improve their planning and to prioritise the most critical initiatives.


Need any help to articulate defined outcomes for your project? If yes, we’re happy to help. Please fill out the form below to request a call back.