The Disciplined Agile process decision framework is guided by the following principles:
- Choice is good, and making informed choices is better. Every team is a collection of unique individuals that face a unique situation within the context of a unique organization. One process size does not fit all. To provide choice the DA framework supports several delivery lifecycles and is process goal driven. Most importantly the DA framework describes the tradeoffs involved with a myriad of agile and non-agile practices enabling people to make intelligent decisions regarding which practices to adopt given the current situation that they face.
- Optimize the whole. The DA framework addresses the full IT lifecycle, showing how it all fits together. Without an understanding of the larger process environment teams run the risk of locally optimizing their own processes to the detriment of the whole. For example, your data management team may have their own streamlined process based on traditional DAMA strategies, your delivery team may have their streamlined process based on the principles of the Agile Manifesto, and your operations team may have their streamlined process based on ITIL. Yet your overall process is ineffective because these three locally optimized strategies contradict and degrade one another when combined.
- Every team owns its process. Teams, and the individuals on them, must be free to improve the way that they work based on their learnings over time. In agile parlance we say that these teams “own their process”.
- Improve continuously. Individuals, teams, and organizations must strive to continuously learn and improve the way that they work. The DA framework includes the process goal Improve Team Process and Environment which describes options for doing exactly what its name implies. It also has an explicit process blade Continuous Improvement that describes strategies for sharing improvements across teams, thereby speeding up your organization’s process improvement efforts.
- Embrace process change. IT departments are complex adaptive systems. One implication of this is that any improvements that a team makes may change the way that they work with other teams, motivating process improvements within those teams. Those changes may motivate improvements within other teams and so on. Disciplined agile teams are enterprise aware and understand that they will need to work with other teams to help them to understand and adopt new innovations, and be prepared to be helped by others to do the same.
- Repeatable results are far more important than repeatable processes. Effective teams focus on producing repeatable results, such as delivering high-quality software that meets stakeholder needs in a timely and cost effective manner. Because each team finds themselves in a unique situation, to be most efficient they need to follow a unique process tailored to reflect that situation. That “unique process” may be comprised of a relatively standard lifecycle and common practices such as architecture envisioning, database regression testing, non-solo development, and many others (granted, those practices may be tailored to reflect the situation too). Each team in your organization must be allowed to follow their version of the process, ideally sharing similar process components defined by a common process framework, to achieve the results required of them.
- Empiricism is far more important than theory. Observing how well a technique works in practice, and more importantly the context of the situations in which it (doesn’t) work is far more valuable to practitioners than theories or prognostications about what should work. Theory has its place, but it is a poor cousin to empiricism. The DA framework was originally developed based on observations of dozens of organizations worldwide, and has evolved since then based on learnings from many more. Furthermore it is backed up by our ongoing industry research.
IT departments are unique, complex adaptive systems. Anyone working in such environments needs a process framework that is sufficiently flexible to address the range of situations faced by your teams. The Disciplined Agile process decision framework is light-weight yet sufficiently flexible to support scaling at both the tactical and strategic levels.