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What is the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)?

DSDM: What Do Agile Practitioners Need to Know?

Once upon a time, ‘Agile’ management was exclusive to the world of software development. It powered much greater levels of efficiency and adaptability using an iterative approach that not only left developers with more flexibility, but also allowed them to enjoy the benefits of their work earlier on. These days, Agile is also widely applied to business management across virtually every sector and industry, yet we still have an important reminder of its origins: the DSDM.

The DSDM, formerly known as the ‘Dynamic Systems Development Method’, is exactly what you’d think: a method for developing dynamic IT systems. It was originally released in 1994 by the DSDM Consortium, which now goes by the ‘Agile Business Consortium’. This organization has continued to update the DSDM while also providing free resources regarding its application, as well as its connection to other methods and frameworks. Agile students can even view the DSDM Agile Project Framework Handbook via the Agile Business Consortium website. While at one point the methodology was renamed ‘DSDM Atern’, followers nowadays all know it simply as the ‘DSDM’.

Unlike other Agile-based methods, the DSDM has a greater focus on aligning projects with corporate and stakeholder objectives. This brings a certain level of objective restraint to Agile projects, ensuring that they do not get out of control by constantly redefining targets or losing sight of priorities.

Over the years, the DSDM has proven itself to offer tangible benefits across Agile teams, with project managers, business analysts, and other team members all having the potential to optimize their results with Agile practices.

How does the DSDM work?

The underpinning philosophy of the DSDM is to deliver benefits that are fully aligned with corporate strategy as early as possible in a project in order to optimize ROIs. It ‘works’ by providing products, responsibilities, best practices, specified roles, and a clearly defined lifecycle that can all scale to suit any project or environment. It aims to deliver results on time, within budget, and in a way that is fully aligned with the long term goals of the wider business.

DSDM is based on eight Principles which outline its culture and philosophy:

Some of the DSDM’s demonstrably effective practices include:

It is important to note that the DSDM is relatively simple compared to other approaches, especially those like PRINCE2, which focus on more traditional practices. This makes it fairly easy for teams and wider businesses to adopt. That being said, it is important to select the most appropriate framework in order to truly benefit from using the DSDM.

What is the DSDM’s connection to Agile frameworks?

The DSDM forms the basis for a number of Agile frameworks, many of which simply approach the methodology from different viewpoints. 

The DSDM can also be combined with methodologies that have different approaches to project management. These include PRINCE2 and MSP. It can even incorporate popular Agile tools and methods such as Kanban and Scrum.

How can I study and utilize the DSDM?

Becoming certified in either AgilePM or AgileBA is a great way for a practitioner to verify their understanding of the DSDM. It also helps that these two frameworks complement one another excellently, with Agile project managers and business analysts enhancing each other’s results and ROIs.

Good e-Learning is an award-winning online training provider with a diverse portfolio of fully accredited courses. Several of our courses cover the philosophy, tools, and best practices of the DSDM, including:

Our courses are built with help from highly experienced subject matter experts. This allows us to offer not only practical wisdom, but also a variety of online training assets – including instructor-led videos. Students can access courses even via mobile devices, and we also offer downloadable resources for studying on the go. Our support team is fully qualified to answer questions relating to course content in the run-up to foundation and practitioner exams – and each student can even enjoy a FREE exam voucher, along with free resits via Exam Pledge.

Want to find out more? Visit the Good e-Learning website for a free trial, or contact a member of our team today!

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