Product discovery is a critical part of agile methodologies, as its aim is to ensure that products customers love are built. Product discovery involves learning through a raft of methods, including design thinking, lean start-up, and A/B testing to name a few. Dual Track Agile is an agile methodology containing two separate tracks: the “discovery” track and the “delivery” track.
Understanding Dual Track Agile
Many assume that the most important part of lean and agile methodologies is delivery velocity.
However, product discovery is equally as important in ensuring that only products customers love are built. Product discovery involves learning through a raft of methods, including design thinking, lean start-up, and A/B testing to name a few.
These somewhat traditional methods of product discovery occur as a phase. Insights are handed over to delivery teams after weeks or sometimes months of product research. During this time, user feedback can become messy as details are lost or simply incorrect. Indeed, users may not understand what they are asking for or worse still, what they actually need.
Uncovering these insights takes time and effort, which many product managers aren’t willing to commit. This leads to assumptions being made which ultimately threaten the integrity of the product.
Dual Track Agile aims to validate product ideas as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. In other words, to increase learning velocity to complement the delivery velocity characteristic of the agile approach.
The two-tracks of Dual Track Agile
As noted, Dual Track Agile incorporates two tracks:
- The discovery track (team) – who gather insights, feedback, product ideas, and develop product personas based on stakeholder goals. Discoveries must be assessed in the context of market opportunities, competitor products, and user expectations.
- The delivery track (team) – encompassing the process many practitioners call agile development. Taking the insights provided by the discovery track, the delivery track builds and releases as many useful features as possible in a given sprint.
To be effective, the discovery and delivery track must work concurrently with high collaboration between each team. There is no requirement for the discovery team to fully define all product backlog items before the delivery team can begin development.
The Dual Track Agile process is non-linear and involves the key members of each team (managers, designers, and developers) working together throughout. Ultimately, it is a balanced approach that allows the delivery team to work on one set of features while the discover team simultaneously determines what the next features should be.
Benefits of Dual Track Agile
- Higher quality products. During the Dual Track agile approach, only validated product ideas are allowed onto backlogs. This increases the odds that the user base will resonate with a given product feature if it is built.
- Lower development costs. When the discovery and delivery team work in unison, development velocity increases which reduces cost. In other words, Dual Track Agile avoids the scenario where one team is sitting idle while it waits for the other team to complete a task. This creates a streamlined and cost-effective development cycle where both teams work to well-informed and detailed plans.
- Adaptability. Increasing delivery velocity helps businesses adapt to fluctuating consumer trends or improvements in technology. The rapid creation of prototypes shows customers that the business is attuned to their needs and has a desire to meet those needs long term.
- Dual Track Agile is a concurrent software development methodology with an aim to validating ideas as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
- Dual Track Agile incorporates two tracks, one is occupied by the delivery team and the other by the discovery team. Both teams work simultaneously in a non-linear fashion. Key members of each team must maintain a high degree of collaboration to avoid project downtime.
- Dual Track Agile increases the odds of higher quality products that address real customer needs. It also lowers development costs and makes the organization more adaptable to changing market conditions.
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