4 key roles in product discovery

12 min read
May 2, 2023

The bedrock of any successful project is well-executed product discovery.

Product discovery is essential because it gives you an insight into whether or not your idea is even viable and the best ways you can improve it to create a better product.

After the initial discovery is done, you’ll have a clear vision and plan for moving forward with your project.

It’s also important to have a well-balanced team in the right roles for this process.

If product discovery is the foundation of your future product, the team in charge of the discovery process is the foundation of the product discovery itself.

Luckily, here at DECODE we’ve assembled the right team to help guide you through our product discovery process.

Let’s take a look at the team that’ll be working with you and their involvement in every stage of the discovery process.

Product discovery roles at DECODE

Product discovery, at its core, is an intensely collaborative process.

We work closely with stakeholders to provide them with the maximum value possible.

Our product discovery team usually consists of the following team members:

  • Product manager
  • UX/UI designer
  • Solution architect
  • Principal software engineer

Let’s explore their exact responsibilities and how they’ll work with you.

Product manager

The product manager is the person who you’ll likely spend the most time consulting with directly during product discovery.

product manager in product discovery

Product managers operate at the intersection of user needs, business and technology – their task is to balance those three elements in order to create the best possible product.

Centering users’ needs in balance with business and tech constraints is at the heart of product discovery.

The product manager’s job is to determine what your users expect from your product and to tailor the product’s vision to those expectations.

For example, around 80% of product features in a typical cloud software product are never or very rarely used by end users.

That can be avoided by going through with product discovery.

Our product manager’s main responsibilities during the discovery process include:

  • Identifying and solving user pain points
  • Conducting market research
  • Coordinating between the client and other team members
  • Managing the overall vision of the project
  • Keeping the project on-track and on-time

Our product manager will be your go-to person for any questions you might have about specific elements of the discovery process.

UX/UI designer

Every month on average 70,000 apps are released in the Google Play Store and 30,000 are released in the Apple App Store – a yearly average of 840,000 and 360,000 new apps, respectively.

Even accounting for cross-platform apps, that’s a staggering number of new releases.

So, what can you do to increase your chances of success in such a competitive market?

The answer is an intuitive user interface (UI) and excellent user experience (UX).

Your app can be technically exceptional but if your UI isn’t intuitive enough and the UX is poor, it will almost certainly be a flop.

That’s where our UX/UI designer comes in.

Their job is to make sure your app is easy to navigate and your users’ can seamlessly access and use all of its features.

They’ll also help you avoid the most common pitfalls of UX design that others tend to make.

The UX/UI designer leads the discovery workshop and is in charge of designing and creating deliverables which will form the basis of your finished product.

They start by creating wireframes and user flows which are the first concrete steps in turning your idea from just an idea to a fully functional product.


These then form the basis of prototypes and mockups we’ll use to validate your product idea.

Their responsibilities in our product discovery process include:

  • Creating wireframes and user flows
  • Mapping out the user persona
  • Leading discovery workshops
  • Conducting user testing

In short, their job is to make your users the focus of your product and making sure their needs are met – that’s one of the main benefits of product discovery in general and will increase your product’s chances of success.

Solution architect

We’ve discussed why UX and tailoring your product to your users’ needs is important.

This doesn’t diminish the importance of the technical side, however.

Our solution architect is there to ensure you make the right technical decisions to fulfill your vision and avoid mistakes.

A product with well-designed UX but with shoddy, buggy programming is just as likely to fail as an excellently programmed product with poor UX, if not even more likely.

Our solution architect’s job is to ensure your product is made with a holistic approach to design and excels at both.

As a senior developer, they’re there to provide technical expertise and synergize the technical and business aspects of product discovery.

solution architecture

To use an analogy, if you were opening a bakery they would be in charge of securing top-of-the-line equipment and high-quality ingredients.

Their main responsibilities include:

  • Deciding if your idea is technically viable
  • Determining which tech stack to use
  • Predicting technical risks
  • Offering solutions to mitigate those risks

They’ll be your first point of contact if you have any questions about the technical side of your product and its features.

Principal software engineer

The final team member involved in our product discovery process is the principal software engineer.

In the past, engineers had very little involvement, if any, in the discovery phase of product development.

That paradigm is shifting, however.

Usually, engineers are preoccupied with answering the question “how should we develop this product?” while product discovery answers the question “why should we develop this product?”

Understanding why a product is developed by participating in discovery makes our engineers’ job easier in the long run.

product discovery

Learn more about our discovery process →

App development starts with product discovery…

That’s why we involve our principal software engineer in our discovery process.

They also assist our UX/UI designer in creating prototypes and mockups that are technically feasible as well as advising about the technical feasibility of your idea in conjunction with our solution architect.

Their main duties in our discovery process are:

  • Planning the team for the project
  • Planning out the project roadmap
  • Making a backlog for future sprints
  • Conveying decisions to the engineering team
  • Providing technical expertise when necessary

If you decide to continue product development with us after discovery, they’ll be in charge of turning your idea into a minimum viable product (MVP).

What the team does during our discovery process

We’ve just discussed who does what in our product discovery process but what does our process look like?

Our product discovery process is done in 4 stages:

  • Discovery
  • Ideation
  • Validation
  • Definition

We’ll also describe how our team members are involved in every stage of the process.

Let’s dive in! 


Not to be confused with the product discovery process as a whole, discovery is what we also call the first stage of our overall discovery process.

This is where we lay the foundation of the work we’ll do in the next stages and of the project in general.

We’ll start with an introductory interview with you and other stakeholders to determine the project goals.

We then start doing market research and a technical evaluation of your idea in order to see where you stand and what our next steps will be. 

market research process

Activities in this phase include:

  • Kickoff meeting
  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Project goals
  • Technical evaluation
  • Competition and market analysis
  • User interviews
  • Problem framing

And this is how our team members are involved in this stage of discovery:

Here’s an overview of who’ll be involved and to what extent.

High involvement

Product manager– they’ll be charged with conducting market research and competitor analysis, shaping the project’s goals and interviewing stakeholders

UX/UI designer – they’ll start the planning process for the UX/UI design of your product based on the goals set in this phase as well as conducting user interviews

Low involvement

Solution architect – at this stage, they’ll evaluate the technical feasibility of your idea and discuss risks and pitfalls you might encounter and propose solutions to mitigate them.

Principal software engineer – they’ll assist our solution architect in their technical evaluation of your product and act as a bridge between our development team and other stakeholders in the discovery process.


After initial discovery, we’ll move on to the ideation phase of product discovery.

This is the most intensely collaborative phase in our discovery process.

We’ll run workshops with you and our team where we’ll brainstorm ideas and start sketching them out to see how they’ll look in the final product.


We’ll also create the first low-fidelity deliverables which we’ll test in the next phase.

This phase is at the heart of the discovery process and arguably its most important part – this is when we begin to transform your idea and project goals into an actual product. 

In this phase we’ll do the following:

  • Workshops
  • Affinity mapping
  • Creating user personas
  • Functionality prioritization
  • User journeys and flows
  • Process mapping
  • Wireframing
  • Technical solution proposition

Our team’s involvement at this stage of discovery is:

High involvement

Product manager– they’ll set up our discovery workshops, start affinity and process mapping, create user personas, and harmonize the brainstorming sessions.

UX/UI designer – this is when they’ll do most of their work by leading the discovery workshops, creating user journeys and flows and creating wireframes for your product

Solution architect – they’ll take the lead on proposing technical solutions and prioritizing functionalities and solve any technical difficulties that may arise.

Principal software engineer – they’ll assist our solution architect in their work and coordinate with our UX/UI designer in creating technically feasible mockups and prototypes for the next phase.

Low involvement

At this point in the product discovery process, every team member is fully engaged.


After brainstorming during the ideation phase, we’ll have some concrete deliverables we can use for further testing. 

In this phase we’ll validate the initial designs that we developed earlier.

Validation isn’t about finding ways to confirm our initial assumptions and designs are right – on the contrary, we try to prove they aren’t.

This way we avoid confirmation bias and find out what works and what doesn’t.

The analysis at this stage is thorough and ruthless and any faults in the design are corrected.

We use mockups and prototypes to test how the basic design will look and feel to your users.

mockup vs. prototype

Mockup vs Prototype

Through this process we also learn how they will use your product in the future.

What we’ll be doing in this phase:

  • User acceptance testing
  • Usability testing
  • Prototyping
  • Mockups

Our team’s involvement in this stage of discovery is:

High involvement

UX/UI designer– They’ll create prototypes and mockups based on the wireframes and user flows and journeys from the ideation phase as well as conducting usability and user acceptance testing.

Solution architect will consult with the UX/UI designer to make sure their designs are feasible and can be developed later.

Low involvement

Product manager – they’ll oversee this process and keep you in the loop about the progress.

Principal software engineer – they’ll consult on technical matters, if necessary.


The final phase of our product discovery process is definition.

During this phase we’ll use everything we’ve learnt in the previous three phases and crystallize it into concrete numbers.

This is when we decide on the particular details of the project going forward.

We’ll determine how long the project will take and how much it will cost.

You’ll also get a full project roadmap so you’ll know the projected timeline and scope of the full project.

Gant table

Gant table

Activities in this phase include:

  • Deciding on project scope
  • Project roadmapping
  • Budget estimation
  • Summary and key findings presentation

Our team’s involvement in this stage of discovery is:

High involvement

Solution architect – they’ll harmonize business and technical requirements and estimate costs based on tech stack used and other technical considerations.

Principal software engineer – They’ll plan out the project roadmap, pick the team for the project and create a backlog for future sprints.

Low involvement

UX/UI designer – they’ll collate their findings for use in the summary presentation.

Product manager -they’ll coordinate with other team members to create a summary and key findings presentation. 


So, which team members participate in product discovery and what does our process look like?

Let’s quickly summarize.

The product discovery roles at DECODE are:

  • Product manager
  • UX/UI designer
  • Solution architect
  • Principal software engineer

Our product discovery is done in 4 stages:

  • Discovery
  • Ideation
  • Validation
  • Definition

While every team member has a distinct role, they all collectively contribute to the overall success of our product discovery process.

Product discovery at its core is an inherently collaborative process where team members are encouraged to contribute even if it falls outside of their purview.

If you’re interested in learning more about our product discovery process, feel free to contact us or read some of our other blogs on the topic.

Written by

Karlo Mihanovic

Tech Advisor

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