Disciplined Agile

DAD Provides a Foundation to Scale Agile Tactically

Disciplined Agile® Delivery (DAD) provides a pragmatic approach from which to tailor a solution-delivery process for the context faced by a team. It also provides a foundation which to scale agile strategies tactically. DAD explicitly addresses the issues faced by enterprise agile teams that many agile methodologies prefer to gloss over. This includes how to successfully initiate agile teams in a streamlined manner, how architecture fits into the agile life cycle, how to address documentation effectively, how to address quality issues in an enterprise environment, how agile analysis techniques are applied to address the myriad of stakeholder concerns, and many more.

Figure 1 overviews the basic strategy for how DAD tactically scales agile software development. The fundamental observation was that many organizations were struggling with how to scale agile methods, in particular Scrum. We feel that the first step was to identify how to successfully develop a solution from end-to-end. Although mainstream agile methods clearly provide a lot of great strategies, there really isn’t any sort of glue beyond consultantware (e.g. hire me and I’ll show you how to do it) to put it all together. This is where the DA™ tool kit comes in, but that’s only a start as you also need to tailor your approach to reflect the context in which you find yourself.

Tactical Agility at scale

Figure 1. Scaling agile tactically.

DAD provides a better foundation for tactically scaling agile in several ways:

  1. DAD promotes a risk-value life cycle. The riskier work early in an endeavour in order to help eliminate some or all of the risk, thereby increasing chance of project success. Some people like to refer to this as an aspect of “failing fast” although we like to put it in terms of succeeding early or learning fast.
  2. DAD promotes self organization enhanced with effective governance. This is based on the observation that agile project teams work within the scope and constraints of a larger, organizational ecosystem. As a result DAD recommends that you adopt an effective governance strategy that guides and enables agile teams.
  3. DAD promotes the delivery of consumable solutions over just the construction of working software. In addition to producing software DAD teams also create supporting documentation, they need to upgrade and/or redeploy the hardware the software runs on, they potentially change the business process around the usage of the system, and may even affect changes to the organization structure of the people using the system.
  4. DAD promotes enterprise awareness over team awareness. Please see the earlier section on enterprise awareness.
  5. DAD is context-sensitive and goal-driven , not prescriptive. One process size does not fit all, and effective teams tailor their strategy to reflect the situation they find themselves in. One of the DA principles is that Choice is Good – DAD enables choice through it’s goal driven approach and through supporting multiple life cycles.

Now let’s examine what it means to scale agile. When many people hear “scaling” they often think about large teams that may be geographically distributed in some way. This clearly happens, and people are clearly succeeding at applying agile in these sorts of situations (see some of the more evidence we’ve gathered that agile scales , as well as some of the older evidence ), but there’s often more to scaling than this. Organizations are also applying agile in compliance situations, either regulatory compliance that is imposed upon them or self selected compliance (such as CMMI and ISO). They are also applying agile in a range of problem and solution complexities, and even when multiple organizations are involved (as in outsourcing). Figure 2 summarizes the potential scaling factors that you need to consider when tailoring your agile strategy.

SCF Complexity Factors

Figure 2. Tactical scaling factors