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Agile principles in the DSDM Agile Project Framework

Netmind - Agile principles in the DSDM Agile Project Framework    Article | Agile ProjectsSubArea
Miquel Rodríguez | 09/01/18

In a previous article we presented the DSDM Agile Project Framework Handbook published by the Agile Business Consortium in 1994, as one of the oldest frameworks of agile work.


The framework is mainly made up of:

  • Principles (behaviour)
  • People (roles and responsibilities)
  • Process (the ciclo de vida)
  • Products (what we produce and when)
  • Practices (timeboxing, modelling, iterative development, prioritisation and facilitated workshops).

In this way it covers the different elements of an agile project in a single framework.


In this article I would like to examine the principles of the framework, comparing it with the Agile Manifesto.


The 8 principles of the DSDM Agile PF are as follows:

  1. Focus on the Business Need
  2. Deliver on Time
  3. Collaborate
  4. Never Compromise Quality
  5. Build Incrementally from Firm Foundations
  6. Develop Iteratively
  7. Communicate Continuously and Clearly
  8. Demonstrate Control


Agile principles in the DSDM Agile Project Framework 0


One by one:

  1. Focus on the Business Need. All decisions in the project must be aligned with the objectives of the project, and resolving the needs of the business. Adequately prioritising is a key factor. The first principle of the Agile Manifesto tells us “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.” Satisfying the client, focusing on their needs.
  2. Deliver on Time. Delivering on time as agreed is important; the time-to-market in an IT environment is crucial. We cannot miss deadlines. The 3rd principle of the Manifesto is to “Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.” Frequent delivery, through timebox or short iterations, is therefore common to both.
  3. Collaborate. Teams which work in collaboration will be more productive, more efficient, and will deliver greater value. Here the Manifesto insists on several points, from one of its values “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation”, to the principle “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project”, collaboration is a focus for both.
  4. Never Compromise Quality. The level of quality to be delivered must be agreed at the start, and we cannot lower the level to meet deadlines, which is unfortunately common in traditional projects. Here the Manifesto is also very clear, saying “Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.”
  5. Build incrementally from Firm Foundations. One of the differentiating factors of DSDM in Agile is the concept of establishing good foundations for the project before committing and initiating a more costly development. Finding a balance between understanding the scope of the problem and the solution, without falling into analysis paralysis.
  6. Develop Iteratively. The concept of iteration is a foundation of DSDM. Frequent delivery, review and feedback form part of the approach to developing the solution. The Manifesto says “Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.” and “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly”, both fully aligned with this principle and the practices proposed by the framework.
  7. Communicate Continuously and Clearly. Poor communication is considered one of the main reasons for failure of projects. The practices proposed in DSDM (workshops, daily meetings, etc.) are focused on alleviating this problem, and the Manifesto states “The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  8. Demonstrate Control. We need to know and convey that the project is going as planned, showing the progress in the form of value delivered and with transparency. As stated in one of the principles of the Manifesto, “Working software is the primary measure of progress.


After this analysis, we can clearly see how DSDM Agile Project Framework is fully aligned with the Agile Manifesto. These 8 principles were published in 1994, 7 years before the creation of the Manifesto. The presence of DSDM in the Manifesto was represented by Arie Van Bennekum, one of the main authors of the framework. As we noted in the previous article, it is no coincidence that the Manifesto also has principles, something which it certainly inherited from DSDM.


In following articles we will continue to examine this framework, increasingly used by companies which are applying a more agile approach to their IT projects.


Finally, don’t hesitate to learn more about our courses and certifications on AgilePM and AgileBA.


Miquel Rodríguez

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