Product management glosary

Disciplined Agile (DA)

What is Disciplined Agile (DA)?

Disciplined Agile (DA) is a process decision framework that enables organizations to make informed choices for their way of working (WoW) in a context-sensitive manner. It provides a solid foundation for business agility by showing how the various activities such as Solution Delivery, IT Operations, Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Security, Finance, and many others work together. DA is a hybrid approach that leverages strategies from various agile and lean approaches such as Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), Agile Modeling, and others, providing a more comprehensive and adaptable framework for organizations.

History of Disciplined Agile

Disciplined Agile was developed by Scott Ambler and Mark Lines in 2012. They created DA in response to the challenges faced by organizations that were trying to scale agile methodologies beyond small teams and projects. The goal was to provide a more disciplined and structured approach to agile, addressing the needs of larger organizations and complex projects. Since its inception, DA has evolved to become a comprehensive framework that covers various aspects of organizational agility, including software development, IT operations, and enterprise architecture.

Key Principles of Disciplined Agile

Disciplined Agile is based on several key principles that guide its application in organizations. These principles include:

  • Context counts: DA recognizes that every organization is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the context in which an organization operates and making decisions based on that context.
  • Choice is good: DA provides a range of options and strategies for organizations to choose from, allowing them to tailor their approach to best suit their needs and context.
  • Optimize flow: DA focuses on optimizing the flow of work through the organization, ensuring that value is delivered to customers as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Enterprise awareness: DA encourages organizations to consider the bigger picture and understand how their decisions impact the entire enterprise, not just their immediate team or project.
  • Continuous improvement: DA promotes a culture of continuous learning and improvement, encouraging organizations to regularly reflect on their performance and make adjustments as needed.

Disciplined Agile Toolkit

The Disciplined Agile toolkit is a collection of resources and practices that organizations can use to implement DA. The toolkit includes:

  • Process goals: DA defines a set of process goals that guide organizations in making decisions about their WoW. These goals cover various aspects of the software development lifecycle, such as planning, analysis, design, construction, testing, and deployment.
  • Process blades: DA organizes the various activities within an organization into a set of process blades, each representing a specific area of focus. Examples of process blades include Solution Delivery, IT Operations, Enterprise Architecture, and Portfolio Management.
  • Guidance: DA provides guidance on how to apply the various practices and strategies within the toolkit, helping organizations make informed decisions about their WoW.
  • Roles and responsibilities: DA defines a set of roles and responsibilities for team members, ensuring that everyone understands their part in the overall process.

Benefits of Disciplined Agile

Implementing Disciplined Agile can provide several benefits to organizations, including:

  • Improved adaptability: DA enables organizations to adapt their WoW to suit their unique context, ensuring that they can respond effectively to changing circumstances and requirements.
  • Increased efficiency: By optimizing the flow of work through the organization, DA helps to reduce waste and improve overall efficiency.
  • Better alignment: DA promotes enterprise awareness, ensuring that decisions made at the team or project level are aligned with the organization's overall goals and objectives.
  • Continuous improvement: DA fosters a culture of learning and improvement, helping organizations to continually refine their processes and practices for better results.

In conclusion, Disciplined Agile is a comprehensive and adaptable framework that enables organizations to make informed decisions about their way of working. By providing a range of options and strategies, DA allows organizations to tailor their approach to best suit their unique context and needs. With its focus on continuous improvement and enterprise awareness, DA can help organizations achieve greater agility and better results.