Date adopted: 
June 3, 2019
Last update: 
August 18, 2022

The purpose of Discovery is to help us understand the problems we're setting out to address. We want to challenge our preconceived ideas of what the problem and solution may be. We frame our understanding of the problem and solution around the user's experience.

We want to uncover:

  • what people are trying to do when they encounter your service. For example, wanting to legally catch a fish, not just get a fishing licence;
  • what the current experience is for users; and
  • what their needs are as they interact with the service.

What to do in Discovery

You will work with your eServices delivery manager to determine who will run the Discovery workshop. Project teams can either hire an approved vendor to run the workshop or, depending on availability, an eServices user experience manager.

Discovery workshop outputs

After you complete the Discovery workshop you should have the following.

  • A vision for why the service should exist and what it will do.
  • Identified user needs and how you’re meeting and not meeting them.
  • Identified what the internal process for the current service looks like and what the proposed service could look like.
  • Identified how you might build a technical solution using the government's common platform components given the constraints of your organization’s legacy systems and IT infrastructure.
  • A plan to meet accessibility requirements.
  • Identified current policies and legislation that relate to your service and how they might impact or prevent you from delivering a good service to your users.
  • Identified policy gaps and updates that need to be approved.
  • Identified key performance indicators (KPIs) for the service or website.

How long Discovery takes

Project teams can expect to spend about 2 weeks on Discovery.

Team roles needed for Discovery

Your project team should be consistent through all design and delivery phases. This ensures the successful delivery of your service or website.

Department that owns the service or website

  • Service owner. Responsible for ongoing delivery of the service or website by their department. Will have strategic decision-making authority. This is typically a director. 
  • Subject matter experts (SMEs) from the department. Familiar with the delivery of the existing service or website.
  • Project manager. Responsible for managing the project schedule, scope, and budget.

Some teams may also need:

  • Business analyst. Responsible for analyzing current business process and aiding the service owner when required.


  • eServices delivery manager. Responsible for following the standard, guiding your project through our service delivery process, coordinating required service maturity assessments and managing project-related contracts.
  • User experience manager/Service design manager. Ensuring what gets designed is aligned with the overall eServices strategy and user experience. In some cases responsible for leading the Discovery workshop.
  • Web architect. Responsible for the technical architecture and implementation of the service.

How you know Discovery is completed

Discovery is complete when:

  • your discovery findings support moving on to the Prototype development (Alpha) phase;
  • senior stakeholders understand your plans and want to build the service or website;
  • you have a complete project team in place for prototype development (alpha).
  • you know the broad scope of the service or website;
  • you've identified the must have features for your minimum viable product (MVP);
  • user needs and stories are simple, clear, distinct, and prioritized; and
  • you know what a successful service or website looks like and how you’ll measure success.

How to know if you can move on to Prototype development (Alpha)

Your eServices delivery manager will coordinate the required service maturity assessment with an eServices user experience manager at the end of Discovery. They will complete the assessment and send you a report that outlines work to be completed so you can move on to Prototype development (Alpha).

You should only move on to the Prototype development (Alpha) phase if your Discovery findings demonstrate:

  • you can build a service that better meets user needs compared to what's currently available;
  • the new service will be better value for money;
  • you have funding and staff resources to required to develop the service or website; and
  • there are no significant policy or technology constraints that mean you won’t be able to build the service.

It’s not a failure to stop developing a service after Discovery if your findings indicate it’s the best thing to do.


Go back to: Pre-discovery and planning
Next step: Prototype development (Alpha)