Disciplined Agile Delivery Explained

Editorial Team

Disciplined Agile Delivery Explained

There have been constant arguments and opinions on which methodologies are the best to be implemented. Most organizations opt to mainstream agile methods since they thought these would be the shortcuts to be successful, not foreseeing the struggles they are going to face. Some of the most common agile methods include Scrum, Kanban, SAFe, Extreme Programming (X), Agile Modeling, Unified Process, and many more. In most cases, some of the organizations faced failure instead. This is due to the naïve approach to growing agile and the need to address corporate concerns, or deu to misapplication of key agile concepts.

However, do you know that combining all of the previously mentioned agile methods could profit organizations? This should be accompanied by the consistency that a standardized toolkit can bring. The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool package can help with this.

Disciplined agile has been gaining traction in businesses all around the globe. Huge economic organizations, software firms, e-commerce companies, restaurant chains, government agencies, and many others have embraced or are gradually executing disciplined agile in their organization.

In this article, we are going to talk about disciplined agile delivery, the mixture of some of the existing and useful agile methods which may bring more success to your organization’s delivery. Let’s have a proper look into what disciplined agile delivery entails.

Definition of Disciplined Agile Delivery

Disciplined agile delivery or DAD is the combination of existing methods that allows you to apply a vast variety of ways while also filling in some holes that mainstream methods cannot tackle on. In simpler words, disciplined agile delivery is a pragmatic agile. It aims to produce high-quality products faster by providing context-specific recommendations tailored to your organization’s needs. It is goal-driven, enterprise-aware, and adaptable, with a risk-value delivery lifecycle. Disciplined agile delivery is one of the components in the Disciplined DevOps layer.

Here are some of the manifesto of disciplined agile for starters. First of all, it prioritizes people and interactions over processes and tools. It emphasises practical alternatives rather than detailed documentation. Other than that, collaboration among stakeholders is preferred over contract negotiations. Another manifesto of disciplined agile is that it will address accordingly based on feedback rather than sticking to a plan rigidly. Last but not least, transparency is of higher priority rather than predictability.

Why you should implement Disciplined Agile Delivery

Cover on what Scrum lack off

Disciplined agile delivery defines a whole agile solution delivery cycle by describing how all agile approaches work together, extending far beyond Scrum. It could handle leadership, duties and responsibilities, and the requirements change management in the same way as Scrum does.

However, the contradicting part about disciplined agile from Scrum is that it also encompasses architecture, design, testing, programming, documentation, distribution, and several other elements of software programming. Disciplined agile gives you a far broader grasp of how agile development functions in practice by taking care of a lot of the “hard processes work” that are hardly tackled by Scrum.

A Pragmatic Process

A disciplined agile toolkit offers options which will allow you to quickly adjust the plan accordingly to fit your team’s specific scenario. However, to ensure the effectiveness of this, you must first grasp the process-oriented options available before proceeding with the exchange.

Complementing both Lean and Agile ways of working

A Scrum-based, Kanban-based, Lean Startup-based exploratory life cycles are all supported by disciplined agile delivery. Sometimes, unforeseen distinct situations are inevitable and not everything could be solved by one process only. Even in small organizations, we have witnessed and heard scenarios where one team will opt for a lean approach, while another team adopts agile strategies. There are also cases where both types are adopted and this is where disciplined agile are produced.

7 Principles of Disciplined Agile

There are seven principles under disciplined agile which simultaneously shape how disciplined agile delivery works.

  • Delight the customers
  • Be awesome
  • Be pragmatic
  • Context matters
  • Optimize flow
  • Choice is good
  • Enterprise awareness

Advantages of Disciplined Agile Delivery

  • Discipline agile can be used in a wider range. Both small and large programmes could implement disciplined agile. This allows organizations to be more flexible with the approaches implemented inside them. Different teams inside one organization may implement lean or agile methods according to where it seems fit.
  • Assisting in a vast variety of teams. Disciplined agile is not only limited to product or software development. It could be executed across the organization regardless of the nature and functions of the team.
  • Disciplined agile delivery could also motivate and improve connections with the team members. Since this method favours goal-oriented strategies over rigid procedures, team members are free to adopt their own preferred approaches and framework that work best with them. This freedom in adoption will improve autonomy and involvement, especially in teamwork.
  • Boosting market competitiveness. One of the principles of disciplined agile emphasises on making sure of the customers’ delightment and satisfaction. The positive feedback from customers will ensure their loyalty hence will secure your place compared to your business competitors.

Roles in Disciplined Agile Delivery

There are two distinguished types of roles under disciplined agile delivery. The first one is primary roles while the second one is supporting roles. Primary roles are ubiquitous on disciplined agile delivery teams. They are present no matter the scale dealt with the team. Some of the roles under this category are stakeholder, team leader, product owner, team members, and architecture owner. Supporting roles, on the other hand, are commonly on a temporary basis, mostly present to resolve scalability issues. The roles under this category include specialist, independent tester, domain expert, technical expert, and integrator.

The roles in disciplined agile delivery are not fixed. One person may be responsible for more than one role, and may even change their roles throughout over time. There may also be times where one role I not required to function or more than one person performing the role at one time.

Agile counters the norm of specialised roles and treating all team members equally, regardless of their job titles, everyone is expected to deliver their effort to provide a workable solution. This implies that everyone except for the stakeholders has to essentially play their roles as team members.

Differences between Disciplined Agile Delivery and Scrum

  • Scrum provides the most practical tactics for the most effective agile teams. However, it only covers a small part of what’s needed to create a completed solution that can be upgraded. Scrum leaves a void in the Agile Delivery Solution. This is where disciplined agile delivery comes in to fill in the gap left behind.
  • Disciplined agile delivery is an integration software development method. It incorporates techniques from a variety of Agile frameworks, including Kanban, Lean Development, and many others.
  • Scrum is a more prescriptive method to software development. On the contrary, disciplined agile delivery is more goal-oriented, and offers useful choices tailored to specific situations and settings.
  • Disciplined agile delivery makes it easier to adopt tactics that can be used with specific answers and challenges. This is because this method explains and concentrates on viability and the justification behind it.

Stages in Disciplined Agile Delivery

Disciplined agile delivery is a set of twenty-one process outcomes. These objectives lead teams through a leaner decision-making process to meet the circumstances at hand. It allows teams to concentrate on results rather than process compliance and the assumptions involved when adopting agile approaches. It allows you to scale by giving comprehensive solutions to resolve the problems you are dealing with.

There are three phases underlying disciplined agile delivery which are inception phase, construction phase, and transition phase.

Inception phase:

This phase is to ensure the teams are on the right track. Some of the things that may be done under this phase are building a team, coordinating with the overall strategy of the organization, and creating shared goals for the project. The business challenges are recognised and the technical solution will be established here. Portfolio Management collects and categorises needs, as well as defining features. Here, the strategy to achieve all of the project’s objectives will also be devised as well as establishing the release planning, test strategy, and funding sources.

Construction phase:

After the plan has been developed, that marks the beginning of the construction stage. This phase is executed to developed a sustainable solution step by step. Some of the steps to be executed in this phase are to demonstrate architecture, addressing to the changes of stakeholder needs, developing sustainable solutions, improving quality, as well as hastening the delivery of value.

Architectural modelling, risk modelling, executing, and planning are segregated into discrete milestones to keep the project on track. Retrospectives, sprints evaluations, and demo for stakeholders are all part of this process.

Transition phase:

This final phase is where the solution is put into action. This phase will ensure that the production environment is ready. Last but not least, this is the stage where the solution is executed. The solutions must be thoroughly tested on a technical level, and the stakeholders must be ready to receive the outcome. They must be adequately informed about the problem. 

Ongoing goals

It is important to enhance and function in a business-like approach. Few of the things under this component are developing team members, organizing activities, as well as dealing with the issue of risk. Other than that, is to expand ways of working, making the most of the resources by leveraging and augmenting them, and legislating delivery group.

Lifecycles of Disciplined Agile Delivery

To properly comprehend how the three stages mentioned before work, we must first grasp the four fundamental lifecycles that keep everything in disciplined agile delivery running smoothly. The purpose of these four lifecycles is to serve as the guidelines for ensuring that work is completed in a timely and efficient manner. The teams must decide on which cycle is the best for them. This is typically done with the assistance of an agile coach, who will essentially guide the teams when applying the selected cycle.

The four lifecycles under this disciplined agile delivery are as below:

Agile Delivery Lifecycle

This lifecycle is quite similar to Scrum, where it assists you in translating your objectives into a work item list that is broken into discrete milestones. This cycle continues throughout the duration of the project and there is no backlog of products.

Lean Lifecycle

This lifecycle is an established constant flow of workflow while ensuring the procedures are minimised and obstructions are eliminated. Lean lifecycle advocates meeting only when it is absolutely essential. This is contradicting with Scrum, where daily meetings are required. This cycle continues throughout the duration of the project.

Continuous Lean and Agile Delivery Lifecycle

In this lifecycle, the teams are expected to deliver more regularly and rapidly. Timely delivery is guaranteed using arranged sprints and approaches like continuous integration. This continuous lean and agile delivery lifecycle is specifically targeted during the construction and transition stages.

Exploratory (Lean Startup) Lifecycle

In this lifecycle, the teams are required to generate fresh and viable solutions. These solutions are based on the feedback by the stakeholders, form part of the initial release. This is completed prior to the inception and transition stages.


Disciplined agile is highly adopted and preferred nowadays due to its nature of complementing the existing agile and lean methods. Its function is not to replace the existing methods, and this has further helped organizations to maximize their efficiency in delivery.

It may be noted that this hybrid aspect of this disciplined agile delivery may be quite demanding especially for teams who are just about to indulge in agile methodologies. Hence, the disciplined agile delivery method may not be highly recommended for beginners. This is a great method that may be implemented by those who are experienced with agile for quite some time now. Not only it will take on the benefits and good parts of various methodologies, but it will also boost up an organization’s delivery up a notch.