Disciplined Agile Delivery (DaD): an IBM-inspired framework for scaling agile

Society, customer needs and expectations are constantly changing. Quality and safety requirements become more stringent, laws and regulations are harmonized, and technological developments follow each other in rapid succession. At the same time, the quantity, speed and complexity of changes are increasing.

In order to respond to these changes in time, various agile delivery models have been developed in recent years, including Scrum, Nexus, Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and Disciplined Agile Delivery (DaD). The models and methods are based on the Agile Manifesto and all aim to realize targeted, iterative, incrementally working products, solutions and software that meet the wishes of the customer.

In addition, the models try to provide organizations with tools to make the transition to a mature, effective agile organization that is capable of responding timely to changing market conditions and can implement changes efficiently and effectively.

Which model best suits an organization depends on the type, governance and maturity level of the organization, but the practice has now sufficiently demonstrated that the agile principles and frameworks work. In this article, we take a closer look at the Disciplined Agile Delivery framework.

The Disciplined Agile Delivery (DaD) framework

The development of the Disciplined Agile Delivery framework was started in 2009 by IBM under the direction of Scott Ambler and Mark Lines. The framework is intended for organizations that want to work lean-agile on a large scale. DaD differs from LeSS and SAFe by the process-oriented approach to delivery, the focus on a workable solution, a significantly different team composition and a strong focus on the environment.

The framework is a lean-agile hybrid model and is based on the Agile Manifesto that the inventors have sharpened and translated into the Disciplined Agile Manifesto consisting of 15 simple starting points in which the focus is on realizing workable solutions for stakeholders instead of products for the customer.

Clearly, influences from Scrum, Extreme Programming, XP, Kanban, ITIL, SAFe and Agile Modeling can be found in the framework. Above all, DaD is a process-oriented framework with a clear focus on the interaction between people and the wide environment of an organization.

Products, solutions and software are realized on the basis of clear objectives in accordance with a fixed delivery process. DaD’s basic Delivery Lifecycle consists of 5 phases: concept, inception, construction, transition and production phase. In the concept and inception phase, the vision, roadmap and target architecture are set up that give direction to the realization of the solution. Subsequently, the construction phase starts with the realization of the solution that is deployed in the transition phase and put into use in the production phase by the stakeholders for whom the solution is realized.

During this process, the DaD team, as well as a traditional Scrum Team, is jointly responsible for the realization of the solution. However, the composition of the team differs considerably from the composition of traditional Scrum Teams. Within the team, a distinction is made between primary and secondary roles. A DaD team consists of a Team Lead, Product Owner, Architecture Owner, team members and often stakeholders are also part of the team. In addition, the team is supplemented with secondary roles, including process, system and technical experts, testers and integrators. According to the framework, all are necessary to realize a workable solution and to ensure that the interaction between the team and the environment is successful.

At the start of the realization, an Iteration Planning is organized by the team in accordance with the Scrum principles, which determines which solutions will be started. The progress is discussed in the daily Coordination Planning. At the end of the sprint, the Iteration Review shows the solution to the environment and ends with a Retrospective in which the sprint is evaluated.

More information on the Disciplined Agile Delivery framework can be found in the book “Disciplined Agile Delivery: A Practitioner’s Guide to Agile Software Delivery in the Enterprise” by IBM Press, 2012.