When and how can Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) help you spread agility throughout the enterprise?

Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) presents itself as a Process Decision Framework for Enterprise I.T. Scott Ambler (Scott Ambler + Associates) developed the framework, now distributed through the Disciplined Agile Consortium. It’s non-proprietary, free, and non-prescriptive. Ambler previously worked with IBM Rational and Ambysoft.

“The Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) process decision framework  is a people-first, learning-oriented hybrid agile approach to IT solution delivery. It has a risk-value delivery lifecycle, is goal-driven, is enterprise aware, and is scalable.”

At a glance

  • Goal-driven
  • Enterprise aware
  • Work closely with enterprise professionals, such as enterprise architects and portfolio managers.
  • Adopt and follow enterprise guidance.
  • Leverage enterprise assets, including existing systems and data sources.
  • Enhance your organizational ecosystem via refactoring enterprise assets.
  • Adopt a DevOps Culture.
  • Share learnings with other teams.
  • Adopt appropriate governance strategies, such as the ones described here, including open and honest monitoring.
  • Risk and value driven
  • Focus on consumable solutions instead of just working software

Interesting aspects

DAD is a hybrid approach which extends Scrum with proven strategies from Agile Modeling, eXtreme Programming (XP), Unified Process (UP), Kanban, Lean Software Development, Outside In Development (OID) and several other methods. DAD extends the construction-focused lifecycle of Scrum to address the full, end-to-end delivery lifecycle from project initiation all the way to delivering the solution to its end users.

It also supports lean and continuous delivery versions of the lifecycle: unlike other agile methods, DAD doesn’t prescribe a single lifecycle because it recognizes that one process size does not fit all.  Instead of the prescriptive approach seen in other agile methods, including Scrum, the DAD framework takes a goals-driven approach.

In doing so DAD provides contextual advice regarding viable alternatives and their trade-offs, enabling you to tailor DAD to effectively address the situation in which you find yourself. By describing what works, what doesn’t work, and more importantly why, DAD helps you to increase your chance of adopting strategies that will work for you.

The Disciplined Agile Manifesto

The original Agile Manifesto (2001) was extended for DAD. The rationale is the broader picture. So no focus anymore on software or development teams.

We value:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Consumable solutions over comprehensive documentation
  • Stakeholder collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, disciplined agilists value the items on the left more.

The Principles Behind the Disciplined Agile Manifesto

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the stakeholder through an early and continuous delivery of valuable solutions.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in the solution delivery lifecycle. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver consumable solutions frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Stakeholders and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build teams around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a delivery team is a face-to-face conversation.
  7. Consumable solutions are the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable delivery. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done – is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
  13. Leverage and evolve the assets within your organizational ecosystem, and collaborate with the people responsible for those assets to do so.
  14. Visualize workflow to help achieve a smooth flow of delivery while keeping work in progress to a minimum.
  15. The organizational ecosystem must evolve to reflect and enhance the efforts of agile teams, yet be sufficiently flexible to still support non-agile or hybrid teams.

More roles than in Scrum or XP…not simply an extension of Scrum

It brings architecture, product management, and portfolio management together. Combined with the competencies of IT staff, Retrospective results (Lessons learned), and IT intelligence (metrics) input is given to the DevOps, in which – strangely enough, processes for IT delivery / Change, and IT maintenance / Run still have their own processes.

DAD has a work item stack instead of a product backlog, a more detailed view on possible techniques to be used for changing requirements while constructing. DAD has its own terminology, so it’s not simply an extension of Scrum. It presents several possible workflows.

Here is how DAD moves beyond Scrum:

  • Deliverables: Scrum delivery concentrates on “working software,” while DAD deliverables focus on a “complete, end-to-end solution.”
  • Style: Scrum is more prescriptive; DAD is pragmatic and thus easily tailored.
  • Phases: Scrum focuses on the construction phase, but DAD focuses on the inception to construction through to transition.
  • Scalability: Scrum targets moving from a single team to multiple teams; DAD is scalable from a single team to the enterprise. DAD talks about Lean development in its scaling method; the system can be optimized as a whole by eliminating non-value-added activities and building quality from within.

DAD also adopts a visualization of the Kanban workflow to measure and manage the flow of work by limiting work in progress. DAD focuses on Scrum in the construction phase, as iterative and incremental delivery can be measured with Scrum rules, disciplines, and practices.

DAD also brings XP engineering practices into the construction phase to reduce the feedback cycle and get the code cleaned up faster.


The certification levels reflect a Shuhari philosophy and are comprised of Disciplined Agilist, Certified Disciplined Agilist, Certified Disciplined Agile Practitioner and Certified Disciplined Agile Coach. The certification roadmap page overviews the complete strategy.

Supporting tools

Tools supporting Disciplined Agile Delivery: