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The Discovery Phase: A Vital Element in Automation Projects

Learn how the discovery phase can unlock efficiency, reduce risk, and lead to effective automation.
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In today’s progressive digital business landscape, organizations of all sizes seek ways to improve efficiency and productivity. Automation offers a powerful solution, enabling businesses to streamline repetitive tasks, reduce errors, and free up valuable resources for more strategic endeavors. However, for many businesses, the outcome of any automation project hinges on a vital first step: the discovery phase.

While automation can deliver significant benefits, poorly planned projects can lead to costly mistakes and missed opportunities. A thorough discovery phase acts as a safeguard, mitigating risks and setting the stage for an effective automation journey.

What Is the Discovery Phase?

The discovery phase is an initial step in an automation project. It involves a deep dive into the current processes targeted for automation. This phase is crucial for gathering information, understanding pain points, and reviewing whether the chosen automation solution aligns with your overall business goals. By investing time and resources upfront, you can significantly increase the chances of an effective automation solution.

Benefits of a Robust Discovery Phase

A thorough discovery phase can lead to a multitude of advantages, including:

  • Reduced risk: By uncovering potential roadblocks and challenges early on, you can avoid costly rework and delays down the line.
  • Desired results: The discovery phase helps align your automation project with business objectives and desired outcomes.
  • Improved user adoption: Involving end users in the discovery process helps identify their needs and concerns, often leading to a smoother transition and higher adoption rates for the automated solution.
  • Clear project scope: A well-defined project scope established during discovery can help prevent scope creep, keeping the project on track and within budget.

What Happens During the Discovery Phase?

A typical discovery phase involves several key activities:

  • Stakeholder interviews: It is essential to engage with key stakeholders from critical teams such as IT and operations. These interviews can help identify process pain points, desired outcomes, and critical factors for the automation project.
  • Process mapping: Documenting the current manual process is also crucial. This involves mapping out each step, decision point, and data flow to clearly understand how the work is currently being done.
  • Feasibility assessment: If you’ve already conducted an initial feasibility assessment, that’s great. During discovery, you may want to revisit your initial assessment if the stakeholder interviews reveal new information that should be considered. This may include reevaluating the complexity of the process, existing IT infrastructure, and various costs associated with automation.
  • Tool selection: For the Insights & Automation team at Forvis Mazars, this is one of the most fun parts. Identifying effective, right-sized automation tools is essential. The discovery phase helps determine the most suitable tools based on the specific needs of the process and your organization’s technical needs and capabilities.

Key Considerations for a Productive Discovery Phase

To complete a productive discovery phase, review these tips:

  • Dedicated project management: Appointing a dedicated project manager or project champion helps keep the project on track and key stakeholders informed.
  • Cross-functional team: Assemble a team with end users, IT, and operations to gain well-rounded perspectives.
  • Open communication: Foster open communication and collaboration among all stakeholders to keep everyone aligned on project goals.
  • Thorough documentation: Document discovery phase findings meticulously. These notes can serve as valuable reference points throughout the project.


By setting up an inclusive discovery phase, you lay the groundwork for a productive automation project. This crucial step helps mitigate risks, aligns business objectives, and works toward completing an effective automation project.

Ready to unlock the efficiency potential of automation for your organization? Connect with us today to discuss your specific needs and how we can help you achieve your automation goals. Insights & Automation at Forvis Mazars can assist with:

  • Advisory engagements
  • Power Platform assessments
  • Power Platform automations
  • App-to-app integrations
  • Outsourced citizen developer services

We have certified experience with Microsoft Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agents, Dataverse, Azure, and Solver. We are an award-winning Microsoft Partner and partner of Solver Global, corporate performance management software.

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