Olga is a registered PRINCE2 Practitioner and has a master's degree in project management.
What Is DSDM?
Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) is an Agile method incorporating the whole project life-cycle. DSDM philosophy cornerstone is the project alignment with the strategic goals of the organization. The aim of a DSDM project is to meet business needs and deliver real business benefits. DSDM also makes sure that project benefits are clear, the solution is feasible, and solid foundations are in place before a project is started. DSDM is an Agile approach, which allows it to remain flexible and meet changing business requirements. At the same time, it provides the necessary project management and governance mechanisms.
Any project usually has to balance the features and quality requirements with the time and cost constraints of the organization. The traditional project management approach often fixes the features and quality of the project product. In contrast, DSDM methodology fixes the cost, time and quality requirements and instead prioritizes the product features. First, the most important features are developed to an acceptable quality. These are referred to as the Minimal Usable Subset. If time and budget allow, less important features are added to the product. Lastly, the least important features are developed. The prioritization of the features is done using the MoSCoW method, which splits them into four groups: Must haves, Should haves, Could haves and Won't haves. The development process is broken down into fixed duration iterations, called Timeboxes.
Though DSDM is most frequently applied for the software development projects, it is suitable for any industry and any project size. This is because the methodology can be tailored to the organization and implemented in fragments rather than as whole.
There are eight DSDM principles:
- Focus on the business need: To successfully apply this principle to all project decisions, the DSDM team should understand business priorities and commit to deliver at least the Minimum Usable Subset. A valid business case should be created before the project starts, and continuously supported.
- Deliver on time: To make sure that the project is delivered on time, the DSDM team is splitting the work into increments, prioritizing the project requirements and protecting the deadlines. Long-term project goals are delivered on time through the on-time delivery of each increment, or Timebox.
- Collaborate: The DSDM teams improve the performance through successful collaboration with the right stakeholders. To ensure effective work, each team member should be empowered to make decisions within his areas of expertise.
- Never compromise quality: The desired quality of the project products is agreed on in the beginning of the project by defining the acceptance criteria. Continuous testing, reviews and documentation are crucial for ensuring an acceptable quality level.
- Build incrementally from firm foundations: Before significant resources are dedicated to the project delivery, DSDM build a solid understanding of the project requirements and proposed solution. After each project increment, or Timebox, is delivered, the project priorities and viability are re-assessed.
- Develop iteratively: The development process is split into iterations, or Timeboxes. A crucial part of every iteration is results demonstration and business feedback. Such approach allows the DSDM team to adjust to the changes in business needs.
- Communicate continuously and clearly : DSDM methodology encourages informal communication. The communication needs of the project are fulfilled by the daily stand-up meetings and workshops. Solution prototypes are shared with the stakeholders as early as possible to benefit from the feedback.
- Demonstrate control: To make sure that the project remains in control of the project manager, planning and progress tracking are crucial.
The DSDM principles are supported by people, Agile processes, products and best practices.
There are six main phases in the DSDM framework:
- Pre-project: During the Pre-project phase, the organization makes sure that the project is aligned to the strategic goals and has a clearly defined objective.
- Feasibility: During the Feasibility phase, the organization makes sure that the project is technically feasible and cost-effective. In case the project is believed to be not viable, it is stopped at this phase.
- Foundations: During the Foundations phase, a high-level understanding of the project rationale, proposed solution and project delivery is established. The project scope is defined, and the agreement on how, by whom, when and where the project will be carried out is reached. The Foundations phase should not take longer than a few weeks and may be revisited later during the project. For small projects, Feasibility and Foundations phases can be merged into one.
- Evolutionary Development: During the Evolutionary Development phase, the project solution is developed in detail by the Solution Development Team. The work is carried out in Timeboxes.
- Deployment: During the Deployment phase, the project solution is made operational. The solution may be deployed as whole or in parts. The Deployment phase consists of three main activities: Assemble, Review and Deploy. After the last deployment, the project is closed.
- Post-project : During the Post-project phase, the organization evaluates whether the expected project benefits have been delivered. A Benefits Assessment document is created for this purpose.
Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) is an Agile project delivery method, which is built around aligning the project benefits with business needs and strategic goals. It compromises product features to meet time, cost and quality requirements. The features prioritization is carried out using MoSCoW method (Must haves, Should haves, Could haves and Won't haves. ). The development process is broken down into fixed-interval Timeboxes.
The method is guided by eight main principles that are supported by people, processes, products and practices:
- Focus on the business need
- Deliver on time
- Never compromise quality
- Build incrementally from firm foundations
- Develop iteratively
- Communicate continuously and clearly
- Demonstrate control
The DSDM framework consists of six phases:
- Evolutionary Development
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