Software development company DVT hosted a three-day training session on Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) from 20 to 22 May at The Venue, in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg. This was followed by a seminar on DAD. Presenting at the event was Mark Lines of Scott Ambler + Associates, co-author with Scott Ambler of the book “Disciplined Agile Delivery: A Practitioner’s Guide to Agile Software Delivery in the Enterprise”, which details their approach to DAD.

Lines discussed why companies are struggling with the complexity of software development, more specifically those using the approach known as agile software development. “In 2001, agile made great promises,” he said. “We were going to cut schedules in half, increase developer productivity fivefold and increase quality twofold. But what actually happened was that we achieved minor increases in productivity and quality in the development of new silo applications. By 2011, traditional projects had a 50% success rate, while agile projects had a success rate of 67%.” He noted that while this is a great improvement, the industry can do better and that in other sectors such a success rate would be considered unacceptable. Lines suggested that DAD can help take development to the next level and increase successes further.

He noted that DAD extends agile thinking to deal with the complexities of adopting and scaling agile for serious enterprise initiatives. He described how DAD includes guidance for being effective in situations where optimal agile conditions are not present. He also explained how DAD brings together proven practices from agile methods such as Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP) to create a cohesive full-lifecycle approach that optimises agile within the context of an organisation’s realities such as governance, offshoring, fixed-price, and other complexities not addressed by mainstream methods.

Lines encouraged the audience to think of DAD as pragmatic agile. “It’s a process decision framework, and not just another methodology. DAD works because it has a full delivery lifecycle, from framing the project in Inception to building in Construction to deploying the solution in Transition.” DAD is equally applicable to Scrum based development as it is to Lean approaches.

Lines cautioned participants against anti-patterns of agile adoption. These include thinking you’re already agile, thinking that you’re in a special situation where agile can’t help, trying to adopt too many agile practices at once, focusing on a subset of the delivery process, believing that one agile process is enough (such as Scrum or XP), following any agile process prescriptively, and lastly assuming agile team members with agile certification albeit with limited experience on their resumé are agile experts and don’t need coaching.

Lines noted that Scott Ambler + Associates has been overwhelmed by the favourable reaction to the release of the DAD process decision framework. “Many have expressed gratitude that there is finally guidance on how to blend the benefits of agile development with the realities of their sitatuations where the agile “rules” don’t always make sense.”

“Mark Lines is a software engineer, consultant and global expert on agile development and is the authority on DAD,” said Themi Themistocleous, who heads up DVT’s DAD business unit. “It’s been a great privilege for DVT to bring him to South Africa and to be able to educate and inform local developers about disciplined agile delivery. It’s a critically important advancement on existing agile development practices.”

Themistocleous adds that DVT will be providing training in conjunction with Scott Ambler + Associates to enable local developers to go beyond Scrum, and to take a disciplined agile approach to solution delivery that can provide a foundation from which to scale.

“DAD recognises that agile development can present many challenges in more complex enterprise environments and that a more disciplined approach can result in greater development project success,” says Themistocleous. “DAD fills in the gaps left by mainstream agile methods by providing guidance on how to effectively plan and kick-start multifaceted projects as well as how to apply a full lifecycle approach, with lightweight milestones, effective metrics and agile governance.”