Dynamic Systems Development Method – Explained

Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) is often considered the grown-up version of agile. Software development companies use this popular and long-standing approach to drive efficient delivery and deployment while ensuring top-notch quality. As a matter of fact, DSDM introduced agile even before the Agile Manifesto came into existence.

What is the Dynamic Systems Development Method?

The Dynamic Systems Development Method adds more discipline, scalability, and structure to your agile software development processes. Teams opting for the DSDM approach must ensure that every project is aligned with clearly defined goals and objectives. They must also focus on delivering real business benefits as soon as possible. DSDM suggests delivering 80% of the features on time rather than trying to deliver everything late and causing massive delays in the software development lifecycle. It's one of agile best practices and methodologies, helping businesses ensure timely delivery and client satisfaction.

Brief History of the Dynamic Systems Development Method

The Dynamic Systems Development Method was introduced in 1994 as an incremental, iterative approach based on agile development principles. It's focused on aspects like continuous improvement and customer involvement. In the 90s, most software development companies followed the Rapid Application Development Method (RAD). Therefore, DSDM was released to provide some discipline to the RAD approach and leverage its strengths. Since then, there have been numerous versions of DSDM, with the most recent version being released in 2014, known as the 'DSDM Agile Project Framework'.

dynamic system development method

The DSDM Philosophy

A DSDM process can be considered successful when all stakeholders:

  • - Collaborate to deliver tailor-made and purpose-driven software development solutions.
  • - Understand and support the company's vision and goals.
  • - Are given the freedom to make decisions within their field of expertise.
  • - Collaborate to meet agreed-upon deadlines in accordance with the company's goals.
  • - Realize that change is unavoidable as the understanding of the solution evolves over time.

DSDM Principles

The DSDM philosophy is supported by eight principles that bring agile values and methodologies to life by guiding developers and software testers regarding the attitude and mindset they must adopt to deliver high-quality solutions consistently while remaining flexible.

  • - Focus on the business need
    Every strategic decision taken during a project must be aligned with the goals set by the client or product owner.

  • - Deliver on time
    The DSDM approach majorly focuses on efficiency. Delivering bug-free software solutions on time is an outcome every client expects and can be a highly critical success factor.

  • - Collaborate
    Seamless collaboration drives better understanding, shared ownership, and faster time-to-market, enabling teams to deliver excellent software solutions that exceed expectations.

  • - Never compromise quality
    To ensure successful DSDM implementation, teams must never compromise on quality. They must agree on the level of quality to be delivered to the client during the project's initiation.

  • - Build incrementally from firm foundations
    DSDM requires teams to fully understand the scope of the business problem and the proposed solution first. However, emphasizing too much detail can lead to unnecessary delays in the software development lifecycle.

  • - Develop iteratively
    DSDM suggests the use of a combination of incremental and iterative development, comprehensive review, and frequent demonstrations to ensure timely feedback. Adapting to change during this evolutionary process enables teams to come up with an effective business solution.

  • - Communicate continuously and clearly
    Poor communication is often one of the leading factors behind a project's failure. DSDM mitigates the risk of failure by improving communication between teams and individuals to ensure better communication and overall results.

  • - Demonstrate control
    Well-defined Timeboxes with constant review points and plans assist the project team in following DSDM principles. Keeping the plans and progress transparent can also help ensure rapid and successful delivery and deployment.

Popular DSDM Techniques and Practices

Here are the techniques and practices that make DSDM one of the best software development methods:

  • - Timeboxing:

    DSDM majorly focuses on efficiency. This method allows teams to meet strict deadlines by breaking the whole project into smaller sections, each with a certain timeframe and budget. To ensure successful delivery, teams prioritize client requirements. If there's not enough time or money left to complete the entire project, the lowest priority requirements can be removed for the time being. Here, the team focuses on meeting the most crucial requirements before the deadline.

  • - MoSCoW:

    This abbreviation represents the prioritization parameters used to rank tasks from the highest level of significance to the lowest, including:
    • - Must have
    • - Should have
    • - Could have
    • - Won't have

    Configuration management helps the project manager navigate all competing deliverables. It also assists in managing priorities based on the above-mentioned parameters to ensure successful and timely delivery.

  • - Modelling and Iterative Development:

    Modelling enables teams to visualize different aspects of a project simultaneously. This enables them to present each item in the software development lifecycle and drive iterative development by implementing continuous improvement and providing regular feedback.

  • - Prototyping:

    During the initiation stage of a project, prototyping can prove to be a very useful agile methodology for conducting test runs. It helps map out basic functions, spot vulnerabilities and issues, and enable users to test-run the software.

  • - Workshops:

    Project managers and owners conduct workshops and meetings to address project requirements, issues, progress, results, and software testing outcomes. DSDM drives better user interaction right from the get-go. Conducting QA through a reliable test management software is also significant for DSDM, as it helps deliver high-quality, bug-free digital products.

Essential Roles in a DSDM Environment

Here are the roles and resources a software development company must have at their disposal to drive successful DSDM implementation:

  • - Executive Sponsor
    Usually, the client appoints the executive sponsor for the project, who is tasked to allot funds and resources as required. They have the final say in most project decisions.

  • - Visionary
    The visionary understands the client's business and its critical objectives. They initialize the project by focusing on the highest priority requirements first and guiding the team accordingly.

  • - Ambassador User
    An ambassador user or test user assesses the software product based on the point of view of the target user. They provide key feedback throughout the software development lifecycle.

  • - Advisor User
    An advisor user brings various important viewpoints to the project. They think out of the box and leverage unique insights to come up with such viewpoints.

  • - Project Manager
    Responsible for managing the overall project and monitoring its progress. They must also communicate with the client frequently to understand and communicate their requirements to the team.

  • - Technical Co-Ordinator
    Responsible for QA of all technical elements and designing the system architecture.

  • - Team Leader
    Leads the team, manages workload, and facilitates collaboration and coordination between teams and project managers. 

  • - Solution Developer
    Models the system, develops deliverable codes, navigates system requirements, and creates prototypes.

  • - Solution Tester
    Tests the product and updates the concerned team when errors arise in the form of comments and reports. They test the system again once all corrections are implemented.

  • - Scribe
    Records decisions, requirements, agreements, and other crucial details to measure the project's progress.

  • - Facilitator
    Prepares workshops to keep all teams on track and ensure the project progresses steadily and consistently.

  • - Specialist Roles
    Provides extra support to address the specific needs of the project. Specialist roles may include system integrator, QA manager, business architect, analyst, etc.

Bottom Line

Dynamic System Development Method is a great approach that leverages agile methodologies to help deliver feature-rich software products on time. Moreover, to ensure a top-notch user experience, it’s important to use software testing tools and eliminate every bug from your digital product.