Before diving into what Disciplined Agile® is, it would make sense to start at defining the concept of Agile. Simply put, Agile describes a collection of principles and values that a team utilises in decision making when developing software. Therefore, when a team is ‘agile’, they adopt practices and make decisions that align with their principles and values. Some popular frameworks that implement agile include Scrum, Kanban and Crystal.

Disciplined Agile® (DA) runs on a slightly different concept, as it is described as a tool kit rather than a framework. According to PMI, who have recently acquired DA, practices outlined in the Agile framework may not be transferable to all contexts whilst DA allows individuals to choose their own way of working and enhance their flexibility. Its tool sets consist of Agile, Lean and traditional methodologies, as it allows teams to build upon their current working practices.

Mindset, people, flow, practices. Do these right and make exceed customers’ expectations

DA outlines four views that can be customized to shape into each team of individuals to add value to the choices they make. These include:

  1. Mindset – enhances the existing agile and lean framework to identify the enterprise realities
  2. People – outline of the roles, responsibilities and team structures that should be implemented
  3. Flow – illustrates the dynamic aspects of processes through diagrams depicting lifecycle and workflow
  4. Practices – details the use of straightforward goal diagrams to pinpoint the techniques and practices that will enhance team effectiveness

What are the main principles of Disciplined Agile? 

To understand the DA mindset, it is divided into principles, promises and guidelines. We will focus on the principles, which serve to “provide a philosophical foundation for business agility” (PMI). The seven principles of DA include:

  1. Delight customers
  2. Be awesome
  3. Context counts
  4. Be pragmatic
  5. Choice is good
  6. Optimize flow
  7. Organize around products/services
  8. Enterprise awareness.

Disciplined agile® made me think about why I was choosing the way of working

Who should use Disciplined Agile®? 

For teams that have previously worked within an Agile framework and are looking to improve their level of flexibility, DA may be a suitable solution. In particular, as work environments continue to adapt around the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that teams maintain business agility. It should also be noted that for a business considering the switch to agile methodology from a traditional methodology, the implementation of DA may have a limited ability to succeed within this environment. This is because compared to other Agile frameworks, there is an absence of a strict set of guidelines in DA, thus this may require a professional consultant to assist in the transition.

Choice is good, allow your team to develop autonomous ways of working

What are the main benefits of using Disciplined Agile®?

DA provides a collection of benefits over other Agile frameworks including:

  • The focus on maximising flexibility and having a goal based strategy. This gives teams the option to select their own strategies, methods and frameworks to cater for their own environment, strengthening the level of engagement.
  • The ability to increase customer satisfaction. Given that one of DA’s principles is to delight the customer, this boosts the market competitiveness of the business as customer loyalty is further ensured.

Disciplined Agile® is a registered trade mark of Project Management Institute

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