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The Importance of Discovery Workshops

After joining Acquia, I was introduced to the Professional Services Discovery Workshop offering. In previous roles with other employers, we had meetings with clients to brainstorm or loosely gather requirements before starting work, but the Discovery Workshop proved to be a unique and invaluable part of the web development process here at Acquia. Prior to hosting a workshop, we have our clients complete a questionnaire that allows us to prepare for our time onsite. After the workshop has concluded, we compile a report of all the learning’s onsite to ensure both sides are aligned on the project goals and objectives.

Professional Services at Acquia considers the discovery phase of our projects to be one of the most important. This is an offering we typically incorporate into the timeline for any site build we’re a part of. A Discovery Workshop provides us the opportunity to be onsite with a client for four 8-hour days collaborating with stakeholders. Once a project kicks off, our access to different stakeholders and departments can sometimes be limited. Having this face time upfront to ask and answer questions puts us in a much better starting place prior to beginning development. The purpose of the discovery is to not only define project requirements, but to ensure we understand the way the client’s site currently works, how they would like things to work in the future, and how we can help facilitate that. During discovery we also educate the client on Acquia’s processes, and how we utilize an Agile methodology to deliver the best quality product to them in the most efficient way.

Another portion of the discovery focuses on what is considered the measure of success for the project by the client. Being able to have this dialogue with stakeholders, and understand what KPI’s they are targeting helps us scope and estimate with those factors in mind. Having this exposure to the clients during the discovery also provides us an opportunity to build a strong rapport more quickly. Our Technical Architects, Practice Directors, and Engagement Managers can share their knowledge of Drupal and Acquia’s process over the week and ensure the clients are comfortable knowing they have Subject Matter Experts and resources ready to support them.

Clients and our team are often eager to hit the ground running, but beginning with a Discovery Workshop is a practice many of us in Professional Services will vouch for time and time again. While you might save some time upfront by skipping the weeklong workshop and the budget spent on it, you always end up paying for it one way another; either when you’ve built the wrong thing or a feature doesn’t work as you might have expected. Having to do rework when this occurs always ends up having financial and timeline implications for the project. The benefit of the week spent up front doing the necessary groundwork during discovery far exceeds the delays and budget impacts felt when a mistake is made or a requirement has been missed.

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