Home > Articles > Software Development & Management > Agile

Disciplined Agile Delivery in a Nutshell

Scott Ambler and Mark Lines explain that mainstream agile methods—including Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), and Agile Modeling (AM)—each provide only a part of the overall picture for IT solution delivery. Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) is a hybrid process framework that pulls together common practices and strategies from these methods and supplements these with others, such as Agile Data and Kanban, to address the full delivery lifecycle.
This chapter is from the book
  • For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.
  • —H L Mencken

The agile software development paradigm burst onto the scene in the spring of 2001 with the publication of the Agile Manifesto (www.agilemanifesto.org). The 17 authors of the manifesto captured strategies, in the form of four value statements and twelve supporting principles, which they had seen work in practice. These strategies promote close collaboration between developers and their stakeholders; evolutionary and regular creation of software that adds value to the organization; remaining steadfastly focused on quality; adopting practices that provide high value and avoiding those which provide little value (e.g., work smarter, not harder); and striving to improve your approach to development throughout the lifecycle. For anyone with experience on successful software development teams, these strategies likely sound familiar.

Make no mistake, agile is not a fad. When mainstream agile methods such as Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP) were introduced, the ideas contained in them were not new, nor were they even revolutionary at the time. In fact, many of them have been described in-depth in other methods such as Rapid Application Development (RAD), Evo, and various instantiations of the Unified Process, not to mention classic books such as Frederick Brooks’ The Mythical Man Month. It should not be surprising that working together closely in collocated teams and collaborating in a unified manner toward a goal of producing working software produces results superior to those working in specialized silos concerned with individual rather than team performance. It should also come as no surprise that reducing documentation and administrative bureaucracy saves money and speeds up delivery.

While agile was once considered viable only for small, collocated teams, improvements in product quality, team efficiency, and on-time delivery have motivated larger teams to take a closer look at adopting agile principles in their environments. In fact, IBM has teams of several hundred people, often distributed around the globe, that are working on complex products who are applying agile techniques—and have been doing so successfully for years. A recent study conducted by the Agile Journal determined that 88% of companies, many with more than 10,000 employees, are using or evaluating agile practices on their projects. Agile is becoming the dominant software development paradigm. This trend is also echoed in other industry studies, including one conducted by Dr. Dobb’s Journal (DDJ), which found a 76% adoption rate of agile techniques, and within those organizations doing agile, 44% of the project teams on average are applying agile techniques in some way.

Unfortunately, we need to take adoption rate survey results with a grain of salt: A subsequent Ambysoft survey found that only 53% of people claiming to be on “agile teams” actually were. It is clear that agile methods have been overly hyped by various media over the years, leading to abuse and misuse; in fact, the received message regarding agile appears to have justified using little or no process at all. For too many project teams this resulted in anarchy and chaos, leading to project failures and a backlash from the information technology (IT) and systems engineering communities that prefer more traditional approaches.

Properly executed, agile is not an excuse to be undisciplined. The execution of mainstream agile methods such as XP for example have always demanded a disciplined approach, certainly more than traditional approaches such as waterfall methods. Don’t mistake the high ceremony of many traditional methods to be a sign of discipline, rather it’s a sign of rampant and often out-of-control bureaucracy. However, mainstream agile methods don’t provide enough guidance for typical enterprises. Mature implementations of agile recognize a basic need in enterprises for a level of rigor that core agile methods dismiss as not required such as governance, architectural planning, and modeling. Most mainstream agile methods admit that their strategies require significant additions and adjustments to scale beyond teams of about eight people who are working together in close proximity. Furthermore, most Fortune 1000 enterprises and government agencies have larger solution delivery teams that are often distributed, so the required tailoring efforts can prove both expensive and risky. The time is now for a new generation of agile process framework.

Figure 1.1 shows a mind map of the structure of this chapter. We describe each of the topics in the map in clockwise order, beginning at the top right.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1. Outline of this chapter

Context Counts—The Agile Scaling Model

To understand the need for the Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) process framework you must start by recognizing the realities of the situation you face. The Agile Scaling Model (ASM) is a contextual framework that defines a roadmap to effectively adopt and tailor agile strategies to meet the unique challenges faced by an agile software development team. The first step to scaling agile strategies is to adopt a disciplined agile delivery lifecycle that scales mainstream agile construction strategies to address the full delivery process from project initiation to deployment into production. The second step is to recognize which scaling factors, if any, are applicable to your project team and then tailor your adopted strategies to address the range of complexities the team faces.

The ASM, depicted in Figure 1.2, defines three process categories:

  1. Core agile development. Core agile methods—such as Scrum, XP, and Agile Modeling (AM)—focus on construction-oriented activities. They are characterized by value-driven lifecycles where high-quality potentially shippable software is produced on a regular basis by a highly collaborative, self-organizing team. The focus is on small (<15 member) teams that are collocated and are developing straightforward software.
  2. Agile delivery. These methods—including the DAD process framework (described in this book) and Harmony/ESW—address the full delivery lifecycle from project initiation to production. They add appropriate, lean governance to balance self-organization and add a risk-driven viewpoint to the value-driven approach to increase the chance of project success. They focus on small-to-medium sized (up to 30 people) near-located teams (within driving distance) developing straightforward solutions. Ideally DAD teams are small and collocated.
  3. Agility@scale. This is disciplined agile development where one or more scaling factors apply. The scaling factors that an agile team may face include team size, geographical distribution, organizational distribution (people working for different groups or companies), regulatory compliance, cultural or organizational complexity, technical complexity, and enterprise disciplines (such as enterprise architecture, strategic reuse, and portfolio management).
Figure 1.2

Figure 1.2. The Agile Scaling Model (ASM)

This book describes the DAD process framework. In most cases we assume that your team is small (<15 people) and is either collocated or near-located (within driving distance). Having said that, we also discuss strategies for scaling agile practices throughout the book. The DAD process framework defines the foundation to scale agile strategies to more complex situations.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020