Agile development has become a key method for countless teams, and dual-track agile is an extension of this methodology. Put simply: in dual-track agile, the aim is to validate ideas for products as quickly and cost-effectively as a team possibly can.
As a result, product teams channel their everyday efforts into two distinct tracks — discovery and delivery.
The discovery track is the key for creating validated ideas for products in a backlog, whilst the delivery track is dedicated to transforming these ideas into quality, market-ready software.
Undertaking discovery-focused tasks, alongside those related to delivery, is important to make sure a team’s product backlog is validated through prototyping and research. This, in turn, minimizes the amount of time and money risked, increasing the success of product ideas.
As with agile development overall, dual-track agile is inherently collaborative, requiring teams to work together. Team members will interact with users, as well as professionals in different areas, to gain insights into user needs and product requirements.
Reworking products, trying new approaches, and reviewing potential improvements takes time. And the more time this all takes, the longer the delay in bringing products to market will be.
To ensure the product is out there for users as quickly as it can be, the number of iterations in product development should be as low as possible. When backlog items require change after change because of poor planning, resources and time are wasted when they don’t have to be.
This is where the dual-track agile method works so well.
Discovery and delivery tracks equip the product development team with essential information, empowering them with the insights they need to reduce the number of iterations. This, as a result, keeps both the expense and time required minimal.
Releasing products with unnecessary features and design elements is a waste of everyone’s time. Users will get no benefit from them if they’re not needed, and the development team will waste precious hours that could’ve been channelled elsewhere to greater effect.
With dual-track agile, development teams can focus on the overall user experience and confirm that there’s a genuine need for each feature. Thinking like the user lets teams identify the most and least useful elements. As a result, they can remove any unnecessary features at an early stage and stop putting time into fruitless tasks, allowing for a more productive development phase overall.
Products will be better and more satisfying to users. Companies may build better reputations, increase customer retention, and learn valuable lessons for even stronger releases in the future, too.
Technology trends, requirements, and user tastes can change rapidly. Dual-track agile helps businesses stay connected to users, product needs, and other vital factors. They can adapt to changes with greater ease, leading them to create products that offer real value.
Keeping users happy is the key to successful software development. With dual-track agile, the discovery team has the details they need to build prototypes tailored to current trends, while the delivery team implements user responses into the final product.
Because of this, dual-track agile creates better opportunities to satisfy users in the long term, and in turn, boosts the success of a software release.
The discovery track typically consists of multiple steps. Revolving around ongoing research, team-members work to gather information and glean insights to define how a product can meet requirements at launch.
The key to this process is speaking to stakeholders to identify their own goals and criteria. This input is vital to creating validated product ideas for the delivery team to bring to users.
Stakeholders should be fully aware of market opportunities, competing products, and user expectations. The better informed they are, the more value they offer during the discovery track.
Interacting with users is essential, too. Software is built for them, after all, and to be successful, products’ features, functions, and designs must align with their requirements and expectations.
In-depth user research equips teams with product ideas that matter. Teams can gather information through interviews, studies, surveys, and by face-to-face discussions.
As part of this, the discovery track may include conversations with people using a competitor’s product, to identify flaws and opportunities.
Another useful step in the discovery track is developing product personas based on user pain points and requirements. Talking through the actions a user takes with their software each day and exploring the different issues they face, for example, can help to generate new features and new ideas.
In the delivery track, the team takes information and knowledge gathered through the discovery track, ultimately responding to it to create the best product it’s capable of.
Rapid prototyping is one common element of this process.
In short, this provides teams with a chance to put a functioning test product in users’ hands to see how it performs, and whether fundamental changes are required. This is less expensive and less damaging to reputations than fixing issues after the release.
At this stage, product development teams, managers, and users will all interact to shape the final product.
Even when all the crucial features and functions have been implemented, fine-tuning is a must to maximize a product’s appeal. Everything from color schemes and user interfaces to sounds should be looked at carefully before final delivery.
The dual-track agile method is ideal for companies of different sizes that create software products for varied markets.
Startups, in particular, may want to keep their development cycles short, successful and risk-avoiding.
Whilst large businesses might have the resources to make bold and risky decisions, startup companies would be benefitted from the focused approach to software development that dual-track agile offers.
It ensures a streamlined path to success and helps to eliminate a lot of the risk associated with launching a product to the market.
And whilst implementing a dual-track agile might sound quite challenging, it’s actually a fairly straightforward process that will quickly help to improve product concepts, development cycles, team morale and the quality of products themselves.
So, if you’re looking for a new way to develop market-ready software: dual-track agile is definitely worth a thought.