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Dual-track development

Dual-track development is a development and delivery approach that helps you determine the right thing to build, as you build it. It splits projects up into two distinct tracks — discovery and delivery.


The discovery track looks at customer and user needs and requests, quickly turning them into validated product requirements. The delivery team works through that backlog continuously, never having to stop to reevaluate or prioritize requirements.

What is it?

A way of managing development that splits discovery and delivery into separate teams that work in tandem to deliver fast, effective results.

What’s in it for you?

More consistent product and service delivery and greater confidence that the projects you’re focusing on are the right ones.

What are the trade-offs?

Managing dual-track takes a lot of expertise and commitment. It’s not always easy to keep the two teams working in tandem.

How is it being used?

It’s helping teams in many industries choose and prioritize projects more intelligently, without slowing down development or delivery.

What is it?


Dual-track development is an approach to software development that splits the process into two separate tracks: discovery and delivery.


In one track, the discovery team generates, evaluates and validates requirements. Meanwhile, the delivery team builds and fulfills those requirements. By operating in separate tracks, the two teams never have to stop what they’re doing to wait for the other. Using this approach, projects can be delivered quickly, costly bottlenecks are avoided and products and services are much more likely to meet the real needs and demands of customers and users.


The approach is based on the idea that effective development and delivery requires two very different kinds of thinking — problem solving and need identification, and technical thinking to turn those problems and solutions into digital capabilities. The dual-track approach gives teams the chance to focus on one type of thinking at a time, without slowing project or product delivery.

What’s in it for you?


Businesses usually have far more ideas to drive value than their development resources can accommodate. Dual-track can help them prioritize those ideas, understand which have the greatest potential, and bring them to life quickly. It supports effective innovation by helping teams move quickly, while also scrutinizing ideas to understand which are worth pursuing.


Dual-track also helps teams deliver effective solutions more consistently. It removes any potential for misunderstanding the problems developers are solving, and helps eliminate re-work (or complete project abandonment) when deliverables don’t meet the needs of users.


While difficult to master, when it’s done right, dual-track can help organizations deliver new solutions faster. Development and delivery teams don’t need to waste time validating requirements — they can simply focus on bringing them to life as quickly as possible.

What are the trade offs?


Dual-track is a valuable approach for the development of any new product or service. But, to be effective, it requires experienced people, careful management and discipline.


Managers and planners have to strike a delicate balance between maintaining communication and coordination between the two teams and enabling them to function separately from one another. They also need to keep the volume of people in each team balanced as workloads and requirements shift.

How is it being used?


Dual-track can be applied to virtually any product or digital project, but it’s particularly valuable for organizations that:


  • Struggle to maintain a long-term strategic vision for what they’re creating, and focus only on the next couple of features to be added

  • Frequently find serious issues with software after it’s released

  • Waste a lot of time and effort on rework because ideas haven’t been validated rigorously enough before entering production

  • Don’t let go of enough ideas, or fail too slowly


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