71% of companies are adopting Agile methodologies, thanks to the beneficial impact this methodology has on organizations of all kinds. Now, there are many Agile-related frameworks you could choose from when redefining your processes. Disciplined Agile Delivery, also known as DAD, is one of them. It takes a people-first, learning-oriented approach that’s made it the favorite among several developers and industry executives. At Techie Talent we believe focusing on delivery is a great thing, so this article is dedicated to the importance of Disciplined Agile Delivery. Whether you’re a seasoned Agile adopter or are just getting familiar with the methodology and its frameworks, you’ll benefit from getting to know DAD and how it could redefine how you view software development.

What Is Disciplined Agile Delivery?

Disciplined Agile Delivery offers a more refined approach to Agile software development. It helps by bringing structure to the flexibility and creativity that Agile is known for. DAD combines the best practices from several Agile methodologies, including Scrum, Kanban, and Lean, tailoring them into a comprehensive framework that addresses the entire lifecycle of a project—from conception to delivery.

What sets Disciplined Agile Delivery apart is its focus on the decision-making process. It provides teams with a robust toolkit, helping them navigate through complex project challenges with ease. Unlike traditional Agile models that often leave the "how" up to you, DAD offers guidance on the "how-to" of implementing practices effectively, offering an easily customizable and clear structure. 

Consequently, a standout feature of DAD is its scalability. Whether you're working on small projects within a startup or managing complex developments in a large corporation, DAD's flexibility allows it to be adapted to various project sizes and complexities. This scalability is particularly appealing in today's fast-paced tech environment, where businesses need to be agile yet disciplined to stay ahead. DAD also promotes a culture of learning and continuous improvement. This encourages teams to reflect on their processes and outcomes, fostering an environment where feedback is not just welcomed but actively sought to enhance future project delivery.

Overall, Disciplined Agile Delivery offers a holistic and adaptable framework that guides teams in delivering high-quality software efficiently. Its comprehensive approach to decision-making, combined with the flexibility to adapt to project-specific needs, makes this Agile delivery process a valuable asset for any team aiming to excel in the agile software development arena.

The Evolution of Disciplined Agile Delivery

Initially introduced in the early 2010s, Disciplined Agile Delivery was designed to fill the gaps sometimes left by Scrum and other Agile methodologies, particularly in areas requiring a more disciplined approach to project management and delivery. It emerged as a hybrid framework, incorporating elements from Scrum, Kanban, Lean, and even traditional project management practices, to provide a more structured yet flexible way of managing software development projects.

One of the key drivers behind DAD's evolution was the challenge of scalability. As Agile methodologies became increasingly popular, organizations looked to apply these principles beyond small, co-located teams to larger, more complex projects and diverse environments. According to the 13th Annual State of Agile Report, 64% of respondents identified project complexity as a significant challenge in adopting and scaling agile practices. DAD addressed this by offering a toolkit that could be customized to suit the unique needs of different projects and organizations, making it a versatile choice for a wide range of development scenarios.

Another pivotal moment in DAD's evolution was its incorporation into the Disciplined Agile (DA) toolkit, which expanded the framework's applicability beyond software development to cover the entire organization. This integration reflected a growing recognition of the need for agility across all aspects of business operations, not just software development. The DA toolkit, now endorsed and evolved by the Project Management Institute (PMI), underscores DAD's role in a holistic approach to organizational agility.

In 2019, the Project Management Institute (PMI) took over the Disciplined Agile Delivery framework with the intention of "embracing modern working methodologies in a progressively agile environment, while enhancing the skill set of project managers and Agile professionals." By 2021, DAD had surpassed the traditional Lean Management approach in terms of popularity and application in scaling Agile methodologies.

Today, DAD continues to showcase the Agile community's commitment to continuous improvement. It offers a pragmatic and flexible framework that respects the core values of agility and delivery while providing the guidance necessary to navigate the complexities of modern software development and organizational change. As businesses continue to grapple with the demands of digital transformation, the evolution of Disciplined Agile Delivery will undoubtedly continue, shaping the future of agile practices in an ever-changing world.

Why Disciplined Agile Delivery Could Be A Great Framework For Your Organization?

Customization at Its Core: 

Unlike one-size-fits-all methodologies, DAD champions a goal-driven approach, allowing teams to tailor practices to their project's specific needs. This flexibility ensures that regardless of your project size, domain, or complexity, DAD provides a customizable blueprint that aligns with your organizational goals, significantly boosting project outcomes.

Comprehensive Lifecycle Coverage: 

DAD distinguishes itself by covering the entire project lifecycle, from inception through to delivery and beyond. This end-to-end approach ensures no aspect of the project is overlooked, facilitating a smoother transition between phases and improving overall project coherence and quality.

Built for Complexity: 

Disciplined Agile Delivery was created with complex projects in mind. It's built to handle significant complexity, offering strategies for managing dependencies, integrating teams, and ensuring consistent delivery, making it a preferred choice for large-scale, enterprise-level projects.

Risk Mitigation: 

With its emphasis on early risk identification and resolution, DAD helps teams anticipate challenges and address them proactively. This risk-focused approach not only minimizes potential roadblocks but also contributes to a more predictable and stable project trajectory.

Focus on People and Interaction: 

True to agile values, DAD prioritizes collaboration and communication. It encourages active stakeholder involvement throughout the project, ensuring that final deliverables align closely with customer needs and expectations. This people-centric approach fosters a more engaged team environment and leads to higher satisfaction levels among stakeholders.

Enhanced Quality and Customer Value: 

DAD integrates continuous learning and improvement into the project lifecycle, encouraging teams to reflect, adapt, and evolve. This iterative process enhances the quality of deliverables and ensures that projects deliver tangible value to customers, aligning closely with their evolving needs.


For organizations grappling with the challenges of scaling agile practices, DAD offers a lifeline. Its scalable framework is designed to adapt to varying project sizes and complexities, providing a clear pathway for organizations to scale their agile initiatives without sacrificing the principles that make agile so effective.

The Core Principles of Disciplined Agile Delivery

The principles of the Disciplined Agile mindset provide a philosophical foundation for business agility. They’re based on both lean and flow concepts. These principles are:

Delight Customers. 

Disciplined Agile Delivery aims to go beyond satisfying our customers' needs, and beyond meeting their expectations. This is where the goal is to completely delight them. This above-and-beyond approach functions to prevent the competition from delighting them and stealing those clients. 

Be Awesome. 

At the core of the Agile Delivery process is a strong motivation to consistently be better. The more awesome the team and the results are, the easier it is to retain customers. 

Context counts. 

DAD’s way of working (WoW) reflects the context that each team has to face, adapting that WoW as the situation evolves. With every team member, project, and organization being 100% unique, there are thousands of factors affecting a particular situation. It’s key to take them all into account when making decisions.

Be pragmatic. 

Pragmatism is one of the main pillars of Disciplined Agile Delivery, as it’s best to have a realistic outlook to unlock more effective strategies. Thanks to its hybrid approach, DAD combines multiple tools and frameworks to customize each project to perfection. 

Choice is good. 

To select your Way of Working pragmatically and based on context, it's essential to pick the most suitable technique for your circumstances. Understanding the options available and the compromises each choice entails is crucial for determining the WoW that aligns best with your specific situation.

Optimize flow. 

Optimizing flow across the value stream within your organization, and not just focusing on local optimizations within your team, is a strategic approach that speaks volumes about prioritizing overall efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Organize around products/services.

To ensure our customers are satisfied, it’s best to align your operations with the creation of products and services they desire. Essentially, DAD focuses on value streams, as these are the channels through which companies deliver value to both external and internal customers through our offerings. 

Enterprise awareness. 

DAD developers prioritize their organization's long-term goals over immediate team convenience. They adapt to and refine organizational strategies, adhere to and critique organizational plans, and utilize and occasionally improve organizational resources. Essentially, they act in the organization's best interest, not just in ways that suit their immediate preferences.

The Three Phases Of Disciplined Agile Delivery

This framework emphasizes three key phases in the project lifecycle: Inception, Construction, and Transition. Each phase is designed to ensure that projects are aligned with strategic goals, built efficiently, and delivered smoothly to stakeholders. This structured lifecycle ensures that every project component is thoroughly planned, developed, and reviewed, minimizing risks and maximizing quality.

1. Inception:

Most team initiation activities occur during this phase, as the majority of teams do some upfront work at the beginning of a project. On average, this effort takes longer than a single traditional iteration, as the 2013 Agile Project Initiation survey found the average Agile team spends about a month in Inception whereas the most common iteration/sprint length is two weeks. So in DAD’s Inception phase teams usually do some very lightweight visioning activities to properly frame the project - though it takes strong organizational skills to keep Inception short.

2. Construction:

During this phase, a delivery team will produce a potentially consumable solution on an incremental basis. They might do so via a set of iterations or do so via a lean, continuous flow approach. The team applies a hybrid of practices from Scrum, XP, Agile Modeling, Agile Data, and other methods to deliver the solution.

3. Transition: 

The Disciplined Agile Delivery mindset recognizes that, for sophisticated enterprise Agile projects, deploying the solution to the stakeholders is often not a trivial exercise. Delivery teams, as well as the enterprise overall, will streamline their deployment processes so that over time this phase becomes shorter and ideally disappears from adopting continuous deployment strategies. It takes discipline to evolve Transition from a phase to a simple activity.

How Can You Adopt Disciplined Agile Delivery?

Adopting Disciplined Agile Delivery within your organization can seem like a daunting task, but breaking it down into initial, manageable steps can simplify the process. Here’s how to set the stage for a successful DAD implementation, ensuring your team is prepared to embark on this Agile digital transformation:

Understand the DAD Framework: 

Before diving in, it’s crucial to gain a comprehensive understanding of what DAD entails. This involves studying the DAD decision framework, lifecycle phases, and the various roles and responsibilities within a DAD team. Resources such as the "Choose Your WoW" book from the creators of DAD can be an invaluable starting point.

Assess Your Current State: 

Evaluate your organization’s current project management methodologies, tools, and practices. Understanding where you stand helps identify the gap between your current state and the agile practices DAD advocates. This assessment can reveal insights into potential challenges you may face during the adoption process.

Secure Executive Support: 

The transition to DAD requires not just team-level buy-in but also the backing of senior management. Having leaders on board is crucial for driving the change, allocating resources, and addressing potential organizational resistance. A 2020 PMI survey highlighted that executive sponsorship is one of the top drivers of project success, underlining the importance of this step.

Train and Educate Your Team: 

Agility is as much about mindset as it is about methodology. Providing comprehensive training and education on DAD principles, practices, and benefits is essential. This can include workshops, seminars, and hands-on training sessions to ensure that everyone understands the DAD approach and how to apply it in their work.

Start Small and Scale Gradually: 

Implementing DAD across the entire organization at once can be overwhelming. Begin with a pilot project or a single team, allowing you to test the waters, refine practices, and demonstrate early successes. This approach not only makes the transition more manageable but also enables you to learn and adapt the framework based on real-world experience.

Foster an Agile Culture: 

Beyond methodologies and tools, adopting DAD is about cultivating an agile culture that embraces change, continuous improvement, open communication, and collaboration. Encourage open communication, feedback, and a willingness to experiment and learn from failures. This cultural shift is vital for sustaining agility in the long run.

Leverage Communities of Practice: 

Connecting with external communities of practice can provide additional support, insights, and best practices from organizations that have successfully implemented DAD. Participating in forums, attending conferences, or joining agile networks can enrich your understanding and application of DAD.

Continuously Monitor and Adapt: 

Finally, keep in mind that adopting DAD is an iterative process. Regularly review your progress, gather feedback, and make adjustments as needed. This continuous improvement cycle ensures that your DAD implementation remains aligned with your organizational goals and the ever-evolving landscape of software development.

Looking To Implement Disciplined Agile Delivery or Develop A Product Using This Framework?

At Techie Talent, we believe that delivery has to come first when it comes to software development and other technology projects. Our team is laser-focused on championing digital transformation, and we want to help you do so as well. That’s why we offer tech consulting services and provide solutions to nearshore technology problems. If you’re looking for a true partner to help you transform your organization and stay ahead of the digital curve, contact us today and schedule a free consultation!