When Scrum Isn’t Enough. Major Principles and Benefits of Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD)
Current trends show that Agile is the new norm. Even if you’re not a professional developer, most probably, you’ve heard of it. The 15th Annual State of Agile Report by digital.ai demonstrates that the number of software dev teams adopting Agile has shown a steady growing dynamic last year. It increased from 37% in 2020 to 86% in 2021.
According to the needs of a specific project, you can choose one of the available methods, such as Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming, and many others. However, each of the mentioned Agile techniques has some limitations that don’t allow considering them as one-size-fits-all solutions. Luckily, there are hybrid methodologies allowing dev teams to overcome many challenges by combining different parts of existing Agile methods. One of them, Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD), will be discussed today.
Why Do We Need Yet Another Agile Approach
Nobody doubts that Agile works well for small companies. However, when it’s time to scale, some new challenges may appear. For example, we often hear that Agile is more a mindset than a set of practices. Continuous improvements and delivery of a new product version are the cornerstones of Agile approach that overshadow a more traditional way of thinking. Milestones and requirements become less important, so a team leader has to adjust the management style to ensure that some autonomy required for successful Agile won’t ruin the overall progress during the scaling.
When you work the “old school” way, you can rely on a fixed scope and more or less accurate estimation of how many resources you need to finish a project on time. Agile implies a more flexible scope and emphasis on constant learning and changes. Frequent product delivery, quick feedback, and ability to adjust requirements allow achieving better customer satisfaction but require rethinking approach to project management when it’s time to scale. The need to change the tech stack is also an important challenge to consider.
These and many other potential problems require a solution that lies beyond the possibilities of familiar Agile methodologies. Scrum, for example, doesn’t provide a strict answer on how to increase the efficiency of a digital product delivery. It helps to improve the development process itself, but doesn’t offer any guidelines for delivery teams. Disciplined Agile Delivery helps to bring down the barriers between specialists involved in product creation and simplifies all processes, from design to delivery. Also, it enables a flexible scaling approach that is less prescriptive compared to the Scaled Agile Framework, for example.
Disciplined Agile Delivery Covers Everything, From Inception to Ready to Use Product
Dealing with Disciplined Agile Delivery is as simple as one, two, three. Literally. It implies that every product goes through three main phases: inception, construction, and transition.
The major purpose of the inception phase is to make sure that every person involved is well-prepared for building the project and well-aware of goals to be achieved. During this stage, it’s important to recognize all business challenges and find technical solutions for them. Also, when the product takes its first shape, the team can decide how many specialists they’ll need, what tests to run, and how to plan the releases. As a rule, when you work according to Disciplined Agile Delivery, this first stage shouldn’t take longer than four weeks.
During the construction phase, the team moves from planning to action. According to specifics of a project, a mixture of different Agile methodologies, such as Scrum and Extreme Programming, can be used. The goal is, gradually, step by step, developing the product with a focus on such aspects as architecture, risk management, planning, and deployment. Retrospectives, constant reviews of completed iterations, and demonstration of the current state of the application to the customer are integral parts of this phase.
The last step is to ensure that software is ready for deployment. During the transition phase, according to Disciplined Agile Delivery, the team checks if all tests were successfully passed. Customers must be ready to accept the solution. If we talk about legacy system modernization, for example, some guidance may be required. The way software systems were designed decades ago differs from today’s standards. Technologies have taken a gigantic step forward both in terms of UI attractiveness and user experience. Therefore, to make sure that adopting a new system won’t cause any confusion because of the new interface and functionality, some guidance from developers may be required.
Disciplined Agile Delivery Offers More Than Enough Lifecycle Types
This seemingly simple concept that implies the three-step approach provides access to, no more, no less, six underlying lifecycles. Among them, there’s something for every team. So, you can be assured that no matter what kind of project you work on, there’s a Disciplined Agile Delivery lifecycle that can cover all your needs.
The Agile lifecycle uses the Scrum concepts. This three-step life cycle follows the phases we described in the previous chapter. It is based on iterations and relies on a work item list instead of product backlog. It will suit you pretty well if you, for example, want to shift to Disciplined Agile Delivery from Rational Unified Process.
The Lean lifecycle is based on Kanban and follows some major Lean principles, so it won’t be a problem to start using it. Team members can take new tasks to work on from the pool of work. Lean doesn’t prescribe participation in regular meetings to discuss the results of an iteration and plan the next one, but they’re considered an important part of the project.
The continuous delivery: Agile is next on our list. This Disciplined Agile Delivery lifecycle based on Scrum and each iteration lasts one week or less. By the end of each iteration, developers must implement new features.
The continuous delivery: Lean is a variation of the previous lifecycle that is based on Kanban and can follow a daily, weekly, or monthly model.
The Exploratory lifecycle is based on the Lean Startup method. It can be a good option for those who work with a customer not fully understanding which exact set of features will help to solve the business problem. Here, Disciplined Agile Delivery can become a huge helper in a learning process intended to understand market trends and deliver a minimum viable product as quickly as possible to better address customer’s needs.
Program lifecycle is for those who work on a really extensive project. This approach allows coordinating a team comprising different smaller teams.
How Adopting Disciplined Agile Delivery Can Benefit You
First, it’s important to remember that Disciplined Agile Delivery is, in a manner, the result of the Scrum evolutionary leap. Most companies that provide software development services are well aware of the advantages of Scrum. It helps to define each team member’s responsibility and better adapt to constantly changing requirements. Disciplined Agile Delivery adds focus to such essential aspects as architecture, programming, and deployment, for example.
Disciplined Agile Delivery doesn’t strictly prescribe how you should act in this or that situation. Instead, it provides you with choices that allow you to adapt to specific circumstances effortlessly. Moreover, a plethora of lifecycles to choose from include both Lean and Agile approaches to software development. This feature leaves room for changes if you face some unforeseen obstacles. For example, one of your teams can follow a Lean approach while the others prefer Agile.
DAD can help you solve multiple scaling problems. Its goal based approach gives developers enough space for maneuvers needed to meet the scaling challenges common for Agile teams. Also, Disciplined Agile delivery was designed with DevOps and enterprise awareness kept in mind, which also contributes to an effortless scaling.
Nowadays, Agile is rooted deep in the software development industry. The flexibility it provides compared to more traditional approaches, such as Waterfall, for example, is the very advantage that helps development teams to feel themselves like a fish in water in a rapidly changing market. However, sometimes what Scrum, the most popular Agile framework, provides is not enough to achieve your goals. In such a case, it’s better to have as many aces up your sleeves as possible. Disciplined Agile Delivery enables a hybrid approach. Therefore, it can be considered as a fusion of different Agile techniques that allows solving problems with which each of them individually does not cope so well.
If you’re looking for an experienced team with sufficient expertise in applying different Agile approaches in software development, contact us.