What is Dual Track in Agile?
Dual Track is an Agile product development methodology that sees cross-functional product teams divide their daily activities into two tracks. These two tracks are:
- The Discovery Track
- The Delivery Track
The discovery track focuses on producing, testing and validating product ideas. Whereas, the delivery track works on turning those ideas into an actual product. Dual Tracks are used to create the best possible product, and we will explore each in more detail in the next section.
Dual Track differs from standard Agile methodologies in which all project members follow the same flow, in that it encourages the team to follow a non-linear flow. This can include independent Sprints of varying lengths. Team members are placed onto either the discovery or the delivery track, where they are given a specific project role with specific responsibilities.
Discovery Track & Delivery Track
As we mentioned, Dual Track consists of two tracks. These two tracks run simultaneously (at the same time) and each has its own set of activities that bring value to a product and ensure the outcome is the best possible product for the end user. Let’s have a closer look at the two different tracks:
- Discovery Track
Dual Track takes a different approach to the product discovery phase. Traditionally, this phase would take place at the start of a project, and once complete, the team would switch to the delivery phase. However, instead of having the product discovery phase as a single phase at the start of a project, Dual Track makes it a continuous activity which acts as a guide for the entire project.
The Discovery Track includes activities such as gathering research, insights and information to create a production roadmap for the product to ensure all customer requirements are met when it is launched.
- Delivery Track
The Delivery Track focuses on using the insights and information gathered in the Discovery Track to deliver a successful and functioning product to the customer. The objective is to gather user feedback, fix any potential issues and continuously tweak and improve the product.
In this track, members of the team collaborate to perfect the final product and ensure all of the features suit the customer’s requirements.
Why Use Dual Track?
Dual Track is built around the philosophy that product development should be iterative and cyclical, as opposed to linear. This is key to fit within the rest of the Agile development methodology which focuses on quick iterations on a product so that teams can continuously provide value to their customers.
Some of the key benefits of using Dual Track in Agile include:
Higher product quality
Dual Track encourages teams to only allow validated product ideas onto the Backlog. This means Agile teams are only working on features that the end-user resonates with and ultimately a better end product. In doing so, this also reduces the risk that features that the end user does not require are developed and included in the product.
More time efficiency
Dividing work into two parallel tracks can result in faster development, release cycles and fewer wasted resources. Having just one track which is devoted to discovery or validating an item before it goes onto the backlog means the team is more likely to get it right and reduce the number of times required to go back and forth. In other words, validating items means that they must be well thought out before work commences on an item.
Lower development costs
Using Dual Track can result in lower overall product development costs. Firstly, only allowing items onto the Product Backlog once they have been validated by market research reduces the likelihood that the team will waste time or budget on tasks that aren’t enhancing the product. In addition, using a parallel track means that cross-functional teams can make progress at the same time. This can help increase the speed at which tasks are completed by the team.
Who is Responsible for Dual Track in Agile?
No single member of the team is responsible for implementing or driving a Dual Track approach. Rather, there should be a whole team approach. This is important for ensuring the successful implementation and practice of this approach. It is also important to note that cross-functional team members should be informed about the progress of both tracks. This will help prevent confusion, and mistakes and minimise the need for any costly rework. Both discovery and delivery should happen together in a continuous loop.
In summary, Dual Track in Agile is a useful method for improving both the quality and the speed of product development. It proves a useful strategy that supports development teams at each step of the way to building an effective product that customers are satisfied with.
As it is driven by the whole team, it is important for every member to understand the approach and how it works in practice.