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Tandem BA and Designer at the Discovery Phase for a Better Project Start


11 min read

Every software development project can be likened to a journey. The way this journey begins sets the tone for all subsequent events. 

Consider, for instance, going on vacation and finding your hotel room dirty and untidy. It is likely that your mood will be ruined, and the rest of the vacation will not bring the expected joy. However, if your expectations regarding accommodation, service, weather, and prices are met, then the rest of your vacation will be in a great mood and will leave pleasant memories for a lifetime. 

In the case of a software development project, everything works in a similar way. The beginning of a project or discovery phase directly affects how the project will develop further and what results it will bring.

As a Business Analyst (BA), my task is clear: to navigate the labyrinth of client needs and transform them into the blueprint of our next software masterpiece.

But no quest is complete without a trusted companion. Enter the UI/UX Designer, their creative prowess lighting the path ahead. Together, we embark on a journey through the realms of UX discovery, painting a vivid picture of the product’s future.

Through our collaboration, the project transforms. What was once a mere concept now stands as a detailed and client-focused proposal. Our partnership ensures clarity and understanding, laying the foundation for a successful venture between the client and the development team.

Role of a Business Analyst and Designer in a Project

Often, clients who are unfamiliar with the development process lack an understanding of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and may not realize the importance of the discovery phase.

The project discovery phase is needed to collect and analyze information about the client’s project or idea, determine the project scope, create a team composition, select project management techniques, define methodologies of the development process, and determine the budget and terms of the project.

The role of a business analyst during the discovery process is to help the client understand the requirements for the future product and help with project initiation.

In most cases, the client will not be able to clearly formulate software requirements, but will be able to formulate business needs and the expected outcome. Understanding these needs, the BA translates them into project requirements. They do it in a way that the requirements are clear to both the technical project team and non-technical stakeholders.

The role of designer in the discovery phase of project is to refine requirements formulated by BA from the perspective of usability and visual presentation. 

The designer can advise on how to present a particular feature in a more convenient or attractive way. They can also advise on how to modify or replace the feature to improve UX. Additionally, they can propose design elements that simplify user journey within an application or website.

These are some real examples from my experience when a designer optimized discoverability UX patterns and improved the final proposal that we presented to the client: 

  1. On one project, we added a digital wallet to the application. The designer suggested highlighting it with a separate widget that stands out from other services. This immediately drew the user’s attention towards the wallet in the application. They could then watch the tutorial and see the benefits of using an internal wallet. 
  2. On another project, we had to choose between a dark or light theme. The designer provided an example of contrasting colors from the product range. Based on the product’s specifics and the target audience’s preferences, the designer recommended the best option that aligned with the brand and improved the customer journey’s effectiveness.

Key Expectations from a Project Business Analyst During the Discovery Phase

When a client comes to us, they seek not just expertise in software development but also someone they can trust with their ideas. Based on my experience, I can confidently say that walking in the client’s shoes is crucial during the discovery design. A business analyst must turn into an advocate for the client. It’s not just about noting their requirements. It’s about understanding their goals and proposing a solution that can help them achieve those goals.

At the same time, BA should possess an in-depth understanding of a client’s domain and have sufficient technical knowledge to translate business needs into software project requirements. The BA should work closely with a client to understand what they consider good and bad in a specific product and what they expect to get after launching their own product into production. After that, the BA should produce project requirements that align with the client’s business strategy.

Here are the key expectations from a business analyst during the software discovery:

  • Understand customers’ challenges and pain points
  • Determine how the product will address these challenges
  • Familiarize themself with the customer’s surroundings
  • Research similar products of competitors and mark their pros and cons
  • Conduct different types of types of exploratory research to define market trends
  • Evaluate product potential
  • Identify target market
  • Review documents provided by the client (if any)
  • Collect business requirements
  • Formulate project requirements
  • Create team composition
  • Finalize work scope
  • Agree on the development timelines
  • Keep the client informed about the progress of the project
  • Present business analyst documents to the client
    Hire a senior business analyst from DashDevs!

Key Expectations from a UI/UX Designer During the Discovery Phase

The designer in the discovery research is the one who makes the business analyst’s proposals better. Let’s face it - the designer cannot conduct the discovery phase on their own, but they can greatly assist the BA in improving the design requirements. When I work with a designer, I always ask them to put user needs first. And they do. As a result, we get a product that is user-oriented and, therefore, more in demand and successful in the market.

Regarding the work type that a designer does during the phase discovery, this is the development of discoverability UX examples and creation of a prototype. The discoverability UX examples focus on how users find and access features or information within the system. The prototype shows what the future product will look like and helps the client evaluate the project’s complexity.

Here are the key expectations from a UI/UX designer during the software discovery:

  • Understand the target audience
  • Use generative research methods like interviews and surveys to understand user needs
  • Collaborate with BA to align design with project requirements
  • Create user personas
  • Develop user flow diagrams
  • Create initial wireframes and mockups
  • Ensure consistency in design elements and user experience
  • Consider accessibility and inclusivity in design
  • Document design concept
  • Create interactive prototype 
  • Present design concept and prototype to the client

BA and UI/UX designer roles

Steps of the Discovery Phase and What the BA and Designer Do at Each of Them

The discovery phase typically lasts 2-4 weeks. During this time, the BA and designer work closely to provide the client with clear project requirements and intuitive interfaces. Here are the main stages of the project discovery process:

Step 1. Client interview. It can be conducted in person or via video call. The project business analyst prepares questions and interviews the client. In addition to the business analyst, the discovery research UX group includes a designer and a technical expert. The designer takes notes about client requirements, and the technical expert advises whether the project is feasible from a technical point of view. 

Here are some questions that I usually ask the client (the questionnaire, however, is compiled individually for each project):

  • What are the goals for this project?
  • Can you describe the typical user of the product?
  • What are the main pain points you aim to address with this solution?
  • Are there any specific functionalities you want to include?
  • What is the desired timeline for the project?
  • Do you have any preferences or constraints regarding technology or platforms?
  • How do you imagine the user journey within the app?
  • Are there any existing systems that your product needs to integrate with?
  • Can you provide examples of designs that you like and dislike?
  • What is the project budget?
  • Are there any regulatory requirements that the product needs to meet?

Step 2. Documenting requirements. After gathering insights, the business analyst begins documenting the requirements. At this stage, they specify the functional and non-functional requirements, third-party integrations, cloud services, and software platforms. The role of BA here involves describing the future product in detail. Based on my experience, I would like to add that it is very important to present the requirements so that they are understandable to both technical and non-technical people.

Step 3. Prototyping. While the business analyst documents the requirements, the designer creates a prototype. This includes creating wireframes, user interface (UI) designs, and interactive mockups. The final prototype clearly demonstrates the product’s layout, features, and user flow.

At DashDevs discovery design projects, requirements and prototype development occur in parallel. However, this does not mean that the designer and I work in isolation from each other. In fact, we actively communicate during the process and share our vision of how the product should function and how the user should interact with it.

Step 4. Comparing project requirements and the prototype. Some autonomy is still present for both the BA and the UI/UX designer during the UX discovery phase. This is necessary to maintain fresh perspectives, explore various solutions to a single problem, and arrive at the most optimal solution.

Once I complete the requirement document and the designer finishes the prototype, we compare our work and make necessary corrections. This approach allows us to formulate the best possible vision of the future product. By combining our expertise in business and UI/UX design, we create a proposition that brings true value for the client.

Step 5. Presenting prototype to the client. Typically, we present 2-3 prototypes to the client and discuss them in terms of functionality and user-friendliness. Together with the client, we select the final prototype. This prototype will be used as the basis for the final product.

Step 6. Detailing requirements for developers. Once project requirements and the prototype are agreed with the client, the BA details the requirements for the development team. The developers use the provided requirements to create the final product.

Steps of the discovery phase of a software project

Deliverables from the BA and UI/UX Designer Post-Discovery Phase of a Project

Upon completion of the phase discovery, we provide the client with the following artifacts:

Work Breakdown Structure

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a hierarchical decomposition of the total scope of work to be carried out by the project team.

WBS includes:

  • Tasks and Sub-tasks: Clearly defined tasks broken down into smaller, manageable pieces.
  • Responsibilities: Assignment of tasks to specific team members or roles.
  • Timelines: Estimated start and end dates for each task and sub-task.
  • Dependencies: Relationships and dependencies between tasks.
  • Resource allocation: Indication of resources (human, technological, etc.) required for each task.

Main flow use cases

Main flow use cases are detailed scenarios that describe how users interact with the software in different situations to achieve specific goals.

Main flow use cases describe:

  • Actor: The primary user or system interacting within the use case.
  • Preconditions: Conditions that should be met before the use case can be initiated.
  • Main flow: The sequence of actions the actor takes to accomplish the task.
  • Alternative flows: Optional paths the user might take within the use case.
  • Postconditions: States of the software system after executing specific use cases


A prototype is a tangible representation of the final product. It demonstrates the software functionality, user interface, and user experience.

The prototype includes:

  • Interactive elements: Clickable buttons, links, and menus that simulate user interactions.
  • User Interface (UI) elements: Visual design components, such as colors, typography, icons, etc.
  • User flow visualization: A visual representation of how the user navigates through the software product
  • Annotations: Notes explaining specific design choices.
  • Transitions and animations: Visual cues that simulate transitions between different screens or states.
  • Feedback mechanisms: Interactive areas where users can provide feedback or receive instructions.
  • Responsive design views: Different screen sizes to demonstrate adaptability and responsiveness.
    Start with a discovery phase to clarify project scope and timelines

Benefits of BA and Designer Collaboration at the Project Discovery Phase

An experienced BA and UI/UX designer complement each other’s work at the project discovery stage. By combining their expertise in business analysis and user experience, they provide the client with the complete picture of the future product. This includes not only technical and non-technical requirements but also visually appealing interfaces and intuitive user flows.

The key benefits that a client receives by collaborating with a BA and UI/UX designer include:

Complex approach. The client receives detailed project requirements and the interface of the future product. They can evaluate both the functionality and appearance of the software and make adjustments as needed.

Greater efficiency and accuracy. Efficient collaboration between business analysts and designers minimizes the risk of misinterpretation of client requirements. As a result, the client receives a more effective outcome. Based on discovery research deliverables they can make more informed decisions about the next steps of the development process.

In-depth project understanding. The UI/UX designer significantly enhances the value of the proposal that is sent to the client. Thanks to the designer, the client receives not just a list of project requirements and estimates, but a real look-and-feel of the future product. This allows them to better assess what will be developed and how it will be developed and make the necessary adjustments before the project begins.

Customer-orientation. While a project business analyst is more focused on the technical side of implementation, a designer takes care of the customer needs. The main goal of the UI/UX designer is to present the requirements listed by BA with maximum benefit to the user. As a result, the client is set to develop a more intuitive and user-friendly software solution.

Where to Hire Expert BA and Designer to Conduct Discovery Phase of Project

The experience of the team that conducts the project discovery phase is very important. The lower the level of specialists, the worse the business discovery result.

On average, the phase discovery lasts from two weeks to a month.

If your designer is a junior, it will be difficult for them to create a prototype during this short time.

As for a business analyst, if they have little experience, they will ask the wrong questions and solve the wrong problems. When a business analyst has a lot of discoveries and projects under their belt, they already know what to ask and when.

So, look for senior experts to conduct the discovery phase of project.

At DashDevs, we’ve been providing IT development and consulting services for 12 years. We perform business analysis, develop project plans, and create UI/UX prototypes during the discovery period and beyond. Our team includes more than 200 in-house specialists, including senior business analysts, designers, and tech experts.

If you want to start a software project but are not sure what technologies to choose, what team to hire, and how to calculate budget, contact us. Our professional BA and designers will set clear requirements for your project so you know where to move next.

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Table of contents
What are the deliverables from the discovery phase?
The deliverables from the phase discovery are Work Breakdown Structure, Main flow use cases, and a product prototype.
What is the role of a Business Analyst in the discovery phase?
The role of a business analyst at the discovery phase is to understand business requirements and translate them into the project requirements. The business analyst should list functional and non-functional requirements of the product, create project timelines, and provide project estimates. Additionally they should ensure that the future product will be competitive in the target market.
Who is involved in discovery phase?
The key specialists conducting the discovery phase are business analysts, UI/UX designer, and technical expert.
What is the discovery phase in design?
The discovery phase in design is an initial stage where designers and stakeholders collaborate to understand project requirements, user needs, and business objectives. It sets the foundation for the design process by identifying goals, constraints, and the scope of the project.
What are the steps in the discovery phase?
The steps of the discovery phase include interview, documenting requirements, prototyping, comparing project requirements and a prototype, presenting the prototype to the client, detailing requirements for developers.
What happens during the discovery phase?
During the project discovery phase, the business analyst interviews the client, researches market and competitors, and explores relevant technologies. Working in tandem with a UI/UX designer, the BA then translates client requirements into project requirements. At the end of the discovery phase, the client receives work breakdown structure, main user flows, and product prototype.
What is the discovery phase?
The discovery phase is the initial analytical stage that determines the main goals, objectives and requirements for the future software product. At this stage, BA, UI/UX designer and tech expert collect business requirements and turn them into project requirements.