Dual Track Agile: A Game-Changer for Digital Product Teams
by Seven Peaks on Sep 21, 2023 10:37:52 AM
In the fast-paced world of software development, Agile methodologies have become the go-to for teams looking to improve productivity, collaboration and customer satisfaction. However, as the needs of consumers and the industry continue to evolve, product teams need a more robust approach to build successful digital products.
As demands shift, Dual Track Agile has arisen as an approach to software development.
This article dives into this software development process, including its benefits, and how to effectively implement it in your digital product journey.
Understanding the Dual Track Agile process
The concept of Dual Track Agile originated in the early 2010s as a response to the challenges faced by product teams in rapidly evolving markets. Marty Cagan, a renowned product management consultant, was among the early proponents of this approach.
This particular methodology aimed to eliminate a linear approach where teams would only start building digital products after lengthy discovery phases.
Dual Track Agile is an advanced product development framework that aligns the aspects of product discovery and delivery into two parallel tracks.
1. The Discovery Track
The Discovery Track focuses on understanding customers, their needs, validating assumptions, and defining product requirements.
The primary purpose of the Discovery Track is to understand users, identify and validate ideas before any coding begins. Activities include customer reviews, competitive analysis, prototype creation, and usability testing.
How does this coexist with the Delivery Track? Insights from the Discovery Track help formulate a well-informed backlog of features that are technically feasible and genuinely address customer needs. These features are then fed into the Delivery Track.
2. The Delivery Track
On the other hand, the Delivery Track is all about execution, dealing largely with the digital product’s design, development, testing, release and analysis. Key activities include sprint planning, coding, deployments, and delivery of product increments, as well as post-release analysis.
So, how does the Delivery Track incorporate insights from the Discovery Track? The Delivery Track uses the insights and validated assumptions from the Discovery Track to build features that are aligned with customer needs.
This ensures that the entire development effort is focused on high-impact features, resulting in a digital product which responds to the demands of all stakeholders.
Balancing Discovery and Delivery in software development
Running Discovery and Delivery tracks simultaneously ensures a continuous feedback loop in product development. This is crucial, because it ensures that there is always a validated backlog of features, which reduces downtime and improves efficiency.
Furthermore, balancing resources between the two tracks is vital. Teams need to allocate enough resources to the Discovery Track to ensure a steady flow of validated features. On the other hand, the Delivery Track must also be adequately staffed to execute on these features.
Why convert to Dual Track Agile?
There are several benefits to adopting the Dual Track Agile process when developing software for your digital products. These include:
- Continuous understanding, validation and alignment with users, ensuring that the product you develop is aligned with your users’ needs. This also improves the overall user experience, ensuring a simple and intuitive experience using the product.
- Efficient resource allocation. By separating Discovery from Delivery, teams can allocate resources more efficiently and ensure that developers are not waiting for work, or, conversely, overloaded with tasks.
- Risk mitigation. By validating ideas before development, you minimize the risk of building the wrong feature or product.
- Prioritization of high-impact features. The Dual Track Agile framework allows your teams to focus on features that will have the most significant impact on the customer and the business.
Challenges in shifting to Dual Track Agile
Shifting over to the Dual Track Agile process can have its obstacles, but each can be overcome with the right approach. Here are a few ways teams can tackle these difficulties:
- Manage resource allocation issues between the two tracks by using cross-functional teams and flexible staffing models.
- Adequate planning and Agile estimation techniques can help reduce the strain on timelines that comes with running two tracks simultaneously.
- Ensure effective communication with regular standups, and align objectives for both tracks to keep them running smoothly in parallel.
- Use the right tools to facilitate easy backlog management and a seamless flow of information between tracks. This will make it easier to integrate findings from the Discovery Track into the Delivery Track.
Examples of successful Dual Track Agile processes
The music streaming giant, Spotify, has successfully implemented Dual Track Agile to continuously innovate and stay ahead of the market. They employ squads, tribes, chapters, and guilds to ensure that discovery and delivery processes are continuously aligned.
Netflix employs a dual-track agile approach by maintaining parallel discovery and delivery tracks. In their discovery track, they extensively utilize A/B testing, data-driven decision-making, and user research to explore new features and enhancements.
Simultaneously, in the delivery track, they leverage their continuous deployment culture and microservices architecture to swiftly implement and iterate upon these findings, fostering a dynamic product development process.
As a digital product design platform, InVision leverages Dual Track Agile to bring cutting-edge features to market rapidly. The engine that drives their success is collaboration between product managers, designers and engineers, ensuring full integration between tracks.
Dual Track Agile offers a powerful and effective approach for digital product teams aiming to ensure their software development moves efficiently. When performed right, and when both tracks are integrated seamlessly, they can be the driving force behind your business’s success.
To learn more about how our digital product development team utilizes Dual Track Agile methodology, reach out to us today.
Tormod Baustad Benonisen, Head of Product at Seven Peaks
Strategic innovator and digital product development leader with 8+ years of experience working in the intersection between business, technology and design. Developed 20+ products and services with 15M+ USD in documentable benefits.