Guidelines for Dual-Track Agile Project Management

Guidelines for Dual-Track Agile Project Management

agile project managementIn our previous blog on Dual-Track Agile, John Parker described the benefits of this emerging concept. Dual-track agile is an approach to agile development in which project teams are constantly working on the discovery and delivery of solutions that will deliver business value and obtain user adoption. By following the principles of dual-track agile, project managers and their teams can eliminate a lot of frustration and costs in agile development. Below are the key guidelines to implementing dual-track agile in your projects.

1. Put together a proficient discovery team with expert capabilities who are able to blend entrepreneurial skills and research gathered from the market. Your team needs to have the following skills so they can thoroughly and effectively understand the problem, recommend the best solution, and align the project with business needs:

  • User Experience/User-Centered Design
  • Business Analysis
  • Pricing and Financial Analysis
  • Customer Discovery
  • Impact/Gap Analysis
  • Focus on Collaboration
  • Experimentation Attitude

2. Have the discovery team working one or more months ahead of the development team. The discovery team should be constantly populating the backlog with validated ideas and user stories.

3. With the help of the discovery team, create an understanding of your customers’ core problem before gathering ideas/features. Do not start putting together a solution until you have a complete understanding of the problem. Use Root Cause Analysis techniques like Fishbone Diagrams or The Five Whys to dig deep into the source of the problem and set the context for the project.

4. Develop a shared vision by hosting a vision planning workshop. Invite the product owner, business stakeholders, technical subject matter experts (SMEs), user-centered designers, and customer representatives. Before the end of the meeting, ensure everyone understands the problem or opportunity and why it is important.

5. Develop a clear set of business objectives for the project to ensure the delivered solution achieves critical business outcomes laid out in the vision. Once ideas or features are documented, business objectives will be referred to for validation. All features must align with business objectives.

6. Do not allow user stories to be defined until ideas/features are fully documented and validated.

7. With the guidance of user-centered design specialists, validate ideas/features to ensure they meet business needs and eliminate low-value features. With the help of business stakeholders, customer representatives, and technical SMEs, validate that each feature is:

  • Accurate
  • Complete
  • Clear
  • Prioritized Correctly
  • Feasible
  • Testable

8. For every validated feature, develop a complete set of user stories. Make sure your user stories consist of  the Three C’s:

  1. Card
  2. Conversations
  3. Confirmations

9. Each user story needs to be written in a consistent format and follow the INVEST model:

  • Independent
  • Negotiable
  • Valuable
  • Estimable
  • Sized Right or Small
  • Testable

10. It’s important for the discovery team to collaborate with each other and provide support to the development team. Use collaboration mechanisms such as feedback elicitation, stand-up meetings, demonstrations, and retrospectives. Discovery teams should have frequent interaction with developers, business stakeholders, and the QA team.

If you’re a PM needing help on implementing these guidelines, Enfocus Solutions Inc. provides a complete solution for dual-track agile development by helping teams focus on discovery to ensure projects deliver value to the business, customers, and users. Download the white paper below or contact us for a consultation to find out how we provide a complete solution for powering business value, reducing waste, and increasing ROI on projects.

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