Introduction to Disciplined Agile (DA)

The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit provides straightforward guidance to help organizations streamline their processes in a context-sensitive manner, providing a solid foundation for business agility. It does this by showing how the various activities such as Finance, Portfolio Management, Solution Delivery (software development), IT Operations, Enterprise Architecture, Vendor Management and many others work together. DA also describes what these activities should address, provides a range of options for doing so, and describes the trade-offs associated with each option.

Our fundamental advice is to start where you are, do the best that you can given the situation that you face, and always strive to get better.

On this page:

    The Scope of Disciplined Agile

    The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit is organized into four layers:

    1. Foundation
    2. Disciplined DevOps
    3. Value Streams
    4. Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE)

    The following diagram depicts the scope of the DA tool kit.

    Figure 1. The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit

    Onion diagram of the Disciplined Agile tool kit

    Layer 1: Foundation

    The Foundation layer provides the conceptual underpinnings of the DA tool kit.  This includes the principles, promises, and guidelines of the DA mindset; fundamental concepts from both agile and lean; fundamental concepts from serial/traditional approaches; roles and team structures; and the fundamentals of choosing your way of working (WoW).

    Figure 2. Disciplined Agile’s Foundation layer.

    Diagram of the Disciplined Agile foundation

    Layer 2: Disciplined DevOps

    DevOps is the streamlining of software development and IT operations activities, and is typically presented as you see in Figure 3. This is a great start, and in Disciplined DevOps we extend this to take an enterprise-class approach that integrates Security and Data Management so as to provide more effective outcomes for your organization.  We also recognize that for organizations with hundreds, and sometimes thousands of systems in production that Support (Help Desk) and Release Management activities need to be robust. The workflow for Disciplined DevOps is shown in Figure 4.

    Figure 3. The classic DevOps workflow.

    Diagram of classic DevOps workflow

    Figure 4. The workflow of Disciplined DevOps.

    Diagram of the Disciplined DevOps workflow

    Layer 3: Value Streams

    The Value Stream layer is based on FLEX, the workflow of which is shown in Figure 5. FLEX is the glue that ties an organization’s strategies in that it visualizes what an effective value stream looks like, enabling you to make decisions for improving each part of the organization within the context of the whole.  It’s not enough to be innovative, you also need to increase value realization – this layer shows you how to do exactly that in the environment that you face.

    Figure 5. The DA FLEX workflow.

    Diagram of the Disciplined Agile FLEX workflow

    Layer 4: Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE)

    A Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE) is able to sense and respond swiftly to changes in the marketplace.  It does this through an organizational culture and structure that facilitates change within the context of the situation that it faces.  Such organizations require a learning mindset in the mainstream business and underlying lean and agile processes to drive innovation. The DAE layer focuses on the rest of the enterprise activities that support your organization’s value streams.

    The History of Disciplined Agile

    To date there have been several major release tiers of this framework:

    1. Disciplined Agile Delivery 0.x. DAD was originally developed at IBM Rational from early 2009 to June 2012. The IBM team worked closely with business partners, including Mark Lines, and was led by Scott Ambler. IBM Rational Method Composer (RMC) currently supports an early, 0.5 version of DAD.

    2. Disciplined Agile Delivery 1.x. The DAD 1.0 release occurred in June 2012 with publication of the first DAD book, Disciplined Agile Delivery. Evolution and publication of DAD continued at this site starting in August 2012. Ownership of DAD intellectual property effectively passed over to the Disciplined Agile Consortium in October 2012, a fact which was legally recognized by IBM in June 2014.

    3. Disciplined Agile 2.x. This is the first real version of the tool kit, which was initially released in August 2015. As we described earlier, the focus was on describing a flexible, context-sensitive approach to DevOps and the IT process.

    4. Disciplined Agile 3.x. This version of the tool kit was released in August 2017. The focus of this release is to extend DA to address the full needs of a Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE).

    5. Disciplined Agile 5.x. This version of the tool kit was released in May 2020 with an update of the book Choose Your WoW! and corresponding updates to this site.

    Having said that, we’re still evolving Disciplined Agile to better support your process improvement needs.

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