Dual Track Agile

Product Development

What is Dual-Track Agile?

The Dual Track Agile Process (aka Dual-Track Agile) was popularized by Marty Cagan, founder of SVPG, who often gives credit to Jeff Patton for coining the term. 

Dual Track Scrum has two tracks of parallel activity – Discovery and Delivery (also known as development). They work simultaneously for efficiency and speed. The Discovery track is all about figuring out the right features to build and uses techniques such as research, prototyping and customer interviews to validate and size opportunity.  The Delivery track focuses on building, testing and deploying the product to the market. The delivery team usually consists of developers and testers. 

Scrum is a popular process of Agile that generally practices 2-week iterations.  The scrum team works efficiently by picking up new work every two weeks. Ideally, during this cycle, the Product Manager/Product Owner works alongside the scrum team and iterates as the scrum team works on discovery. The goal is for the PM/PO to be looking ahead by 2-3 cycles. However, one cycle ahead will suffice to validate the discovery work that is being done before it is handed to the team to work on delivery. 

Continuous Discovery

Dual-track agile validates the product during the development phase with the discovery process before delivery. This process helps to avoid time and resources from being spent on a failed product. The dual-track agile process determines which products are likely to fail during the discovery phase. If a product shows a lack of desirability or usefulness amongst users, the product is scrapped and the process of discovery begins again until a product proves to be useful and viable, at which point it is moved into the backlog for the delivery team.

Dual Track Agile Manifesto

Referring to the Dual Track Agile Manifesto will help to keep you and your team aligned:

  • Experimentation over Requirements
  • Outcome over Output
  • Speed over Perfection
  • Discovery over Roadmaps
  • Learning over Right and Wrong
  • Data over Opinions
  • Collaboration over Consensus
  • Customers over Competitors
  • Culture over Process

Discovery in Dual-Track Agile

The discovery process helps the team to determine how and why people might use the product that’s being developed. The goal for the discovery team is to discover an opportunity in the marketplace for the product. While working in the discovery track you’ll want to do an opportunity assessment by asking if there’s a problem to be solved, who you might be solving the problem for and is your product the right product to solve this problem. 

To identify the potential opportunity for your product during the discovery process you can do various testing like doing story mapping with your team, prototyping, and product demand testing. These exercises will help you to determine the following:

  • Will users buy or use this product?
  • Is it viable for our team to build this product
  • If we build this product, can they use it?

After going through the discovery process with the scrum team you will then create user stories that go into the backlog for later use in the delivery phase. The discovery team typically consists of lead designers and developers.

Timeboxing in Dual-Track Agile

Timeboxing is used to keep open-ended discovery from chasing decreasing marginal value. It forces the team to present concrete output at the end of each timebox. The sooner you can determine the potential of a product during the discovery phase or inspect a deliverable, the sooner you can implement it. Using timeboxing encourages the team to work quickly and efficiently within concrete timeframes.

Dual-Track Backlog

In a typical scrum backlog, the team takes the highest priority item from the scrum backlog and moves it into the sprint where they work on the designs, define technical solutions, build the code and test the product before the sprint is complete. The dual-scrum backlog is unique in that it alleviates the time crunch by identifying the items as mature or immature. The immature items are ideas that have not been tried and tested by the Discovery team, and the mature items have been vetted and are determined to be valuable to users and viable for the team to build. Once the Discovery team confirms the viability of an idea they are considered mature and are then scheduled in the delivery teams’ backlog. 

Product Managers & Dual-Track Agile

As previously discussed the discovery track and the delivery track have two different roles and two different teams working simultaneously. The Product Managers role, however, is to oversee and work with both the discovery and the delivery teams. The role of the Product Manager in dual-track scrum is to oversee the process from beginning to end and to facilitate the workflow. Often PM/PO’s can get pulled into working with one of the teams at various times throughout the process to keep things moving as scheduled. Keeping the PM/PO in the role of enabling the team to complete each task is ideal as it will help to keep the team inspired an on target to meet their goals.


By implementing the Dual Track Agile process into your workflow, you shift the business from thinking about output to thinking about the outcome. This process puts more focus on the value that your team is creating for the end-users and increases the probability of success for the final product.

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