DSDM Atern is a vendor-independent implementation of the agile project delivery framework Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM). It is a generic approach to agile project management rather than solely focused on software delivery.
DSDM differs from many agile approaches in that it retains a role for a project manager and considers itself compatible with other project management approaches such as PRINCE2 and PMI. The DSDM approach is scalable from small teams to-large scale, across many teams. There are many roles defined, which may be shared or combined.
The DSDM project process has 6 phases:
- Pre-project. Helps start the project correctly and prevents poor projects beginning.
- Feasibility. Check the project is technically feasible, and the business case is viable.
- Foundations. Teams spend a few weeks establishing the business rationale, the technical solution and approach.
- Evolutionary development. Teams build increments of prioritised features in iterations of the system.
- Bring the system into operational use.
- Post-project. Quantify the benefits delivered by the project.
To get the full benefit of the DSDM framework, teams must adopt a mindset that focuses on the following principles:
- Focus on the business need. Make all decisions with the overriding project goal in mind.
- Deliver on time. The most critical success factor is on-time delivery.
- Collaborate. Collaborative teams always outperform those that don’t.
- Never compromise quality. The quality of the system must be good enough.
- Build incrementally from firm foundations. Perform sufficient analysis and design upfront.
- Develop iteratively. At the end of each iteration, work is reviewed and feedback is received.
- Communicate continuously and clearly. The most significant cause of project failure is poor communication.
- Demonstrate control. Proactive management of plans to ensure the project remains in control at all times.
At the core of DSDM are a collection of techniques:
- Timeboxing. Creates motivation and pressure to achieve an objective in a fixed period.
- MoSCoW prioritisation. Understanding the relative priority of requirements helps the team make progress and hit deadlines.
- Workshops. Facilitated workshops are a proven practice for driving rapid high-quality decision making and buy-in.
- Modelling. Models and prototypes help confirm expectations and understanding, which improves communication between the project and stakeholder groups.
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