What Is the Difference Between DSDM and Agile? Explained

Are you trying to understand the difference between DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method) and Agile? Don’t worry! Even though the two methods are quite similar, there are a few key differences that set them apart. Both DSDM and Agile are iterative and incremental development methodologies that prioritize delivering high-quality software products while simultaneously adapting to changing requirements. However, DSDM is a specific Agile framework that focuses on projects with fixed deadlines, whereas Agile is an umbrella term that encompasses several different methodologies.

One of the main differences between DSDM and Agile is their approach to timeboxing. DSDM uses very strict time constraints to ensure that a project is completed within a specific timeframe. All tasks and activities are carefully planned and broken down into a detailed schedule to reduce the risk of delays. In contrast, Agile embraces change and doesn’t rely on rigid timeframes. Instead, it’s more flexible and responsive to changes in the project requirements. Thus, Agile methodology is more suitable for projects where flexibility and adaptability are a must.

Another key difference between DSDM and Agile is their approach to documentation. DSDM places a significant emphasis on documentation to ensure that all project details are recorded accurately and thoroughly. This documentation is an essential part of the process and is used to manage risks and provide guidance to team members. On the other hand, Agile emphasizes face-to-face communication over extensive documentation. It values collaboration, so the focus is on keeping communication channels open between all project stakeholders and keeping everyone on the same page.

DSDM Overview

Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) is a framework for delivering time-boxed and cost-effective solutions for software development projects. DSDM originated in the United Kingdom in the 1990s and is based on Rapid Application Development (RAD) principles. The approach puts emphasis on the active involvement of users, frequent delivery of prototypes, and continuous feedback throughout the process.

  • DSDM promotes and encourages communication and collaboration between developers, business analysts, customers, and users throughout the software development cycle.
  • The framework is flexible in nature and allows for modifications as per changing business requirements and priorities.
  • It provides a set of proven tools and techniques that help teams deliver high-quality software within an agreed-upon budget and time frame.

The process of DSDM framework has eight foundational principles, including:

  • Focus on the business need.
  • Deliver on time.
  • Collaborate.
  • Never compromise on quality.
  • Build incrementally from firm foundations.
  • Develop iteratively.
  • Communicate continuously and clearly.
  • Demonstrate control.

The core components of the DSDM framework include:

The feasibility/strategy- Foundations phase Assesses the viability of implementing a project and the potential return on investment. Business, technical, and architectural feasibility are a few areas assessed.
The business study- Exploration phase Defines the business objectives and scope of the project, identifies stakeholders, creates a business case, and outlines potential solution areas.
The functional model iteration- Engineering phase Builds upon the solution areas captured and outlined during the business study phase. User stories or use cases are captured and prioritized.
The design and build iteration- Engineering phase Architects and designs the solution. This includes development, testing, and implementation of the solution incrementally.
The implementation- Deployment phase Deploys the solution to the business and provides support for post-implementation activities.

DSDM is a proven methodology to develop software solutions that meet the ever-changing needs of businesses and their stakeholders. It enables timely delivery of high-quality solutions within agreed-upon budgets and time frames.

Agile Frameworks

When it comes to agile methodologies, there are a number of frameworks available to teams. Each one offers its own unique approach to managing and delivering projects. Here are some of the most popular frameworks:

  • Scrum
  • Kanban
  • Extreme Programming (XP)
  • Lean

Scrum is by far the most widely used framework. It’s a lightweight process that enables teams to be highly productive and deliver high-quality products. Scrum is made up of different roles, ceremonies, and artifacts that help teams manage their work and stay on track.

Kanban is another popular framework that emphasizes continuous delivery. It’s based on the Toyota Production System and uses a visual board to manage work. Teams pull tasks from a backlog and work on them in a just-in-time fashion, minimizing the amount of work in progress.

Extreme Programming (XP) is a framework that emphasizes engineering practices. It includes practices such as test-driven development, pair programming, and continuous integration. XP is designed to help teams deliver high-quality code on a regular basis.

Lean is a framework that focuses on eliminating waste from the development process. It aims to maximize value while minimizing waste. Lean is based on the Toyota Production System and uses a number of different tools and techniques to achieve its goals.

DSDM vs Agile

DSDM and agile are often compared since DSDM is a subset of agile. DSDM is a framework that was developed specifically for delivering projects on time and within budget. It’s a highly structured approach that emphasizes the need for strong governance and rigorous testing.

DSDM Agile
Highly structured Flexible
Prioritizes strong governance Emphasizes self-organizing teams
Rigorous testing Testing is integrated throughout the development process

Agile, on the other hand, is a more flexible approach that emphasizes the need for self-organizing teams and continuous delivery. It’s designed to be adaptable to changing requirements and priorities. Testing is also integrated throughout the development process, rather than being a separate phase as it is in DSDM.

Overall, both DSDM and agile are effective frameworks for delivering projects. The choice between the two will largely depend on the specific needs and requirements of the project at hand.

Agile Project Management

In the world of project management, Agile is a methodology that is designed to provide a more flexible and iterative approach to the project lifecycle. This approach focuses on collaboration, continuous improvement, and customer satisfaction. There are several Agile methodologies, including Scrum and Kanban, but one that is often compared to Agile is DSDM.

What is DSDM?

  • DSDM stands for Dynamic Systems Development Method.
  • It is a framework that provides structure to the Agile methodology.
  • It was developed in the United Kingdom as a response to traditional project management approaches.

The Difference Between DSDM and Agile

While DSDM is considered an Agile methodology, there are a few key differences between the two that are worth noting:

  • DSDM is more prescriptive than Agile, meaning it provides more structure and guidance.
  • While Agile focuses on collaboration between the development team and the customer, DSDM includes additional roles such as the Business Ambassador and Solution Developer.
  • DSDM includes more planning and control compared to Agile, which relies more on adapting and responding to change.

Benefits of Agile Project Management

Agile Project Management offers several benefits over traditional methodologies, including:

  • Flexibility: Agile allows for changes to be made quickly and efficiently as they arise, avoiding the need for a long, complicated change management process.
  • Customer Satisfaction: With Agile, the product is developed in cycles, allowing the customer to provide feedback and adjustments throughout the process. This ensures that the final product meets their needs and expectations.
  • Collaboration: Agile encourages close collaboration between the development team and the customer, avoiding any misunderstandings or miscommunications.
  • Increased Efficiency: Agile methodology reduces waste and leads to faster delivery of the final product, resulting in higher productivity and lower costs.


Agile Project Management is a flexible and iterative approach to project management that provides several benefits over traditional methods. While DSDM is a more prescriptive version of Agile, both approaches promote collaboration, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. By embracing Agile methodology, organizations can adapt to changing needs and requirements, while quickly delivering high-quality products that meet customer needs.

Agile Manifesto DSDM Principles
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Active user involvement is imperative
Working software over comprehensive documentation Teams must be empowered to make decisions
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation The focus is on frequent delivery of products
Responding to change over following a plan The approach must be incremental and iterative

While there are differences in the approach and methodology, both Agile and DSDM share similar principles that focus on developing high-quality products that meet customer needs and expectations.

DSDM Principles

The Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) is an Agile approach that provides a framework for delivering projects on time and on budget. The methodology is focused on delivering business value within fast-paced environments. In comparison with other Agile frameworks, such as Scrum, DSDM differs in its approach to project management. One of the distinctive features of DSDM is its eight principles, which provide a guideline for successful project delivery.

  • Focus on the business need: DSDM emphasizes collaboration between project teams and business stakeholders to ensure that the project is aligned with the business requirements.
  • Deliver on time: DSDM prioritizes delivering the project on time, and as such, includes mechanisms for timeboxing and iteratively delivering work.
  • Collaborate: DSDM promotes collaboration between cross-functional teams, enabling them to share skills, knowledge and ideas.
  • Never compromise quality: DSDM emphasizes quality in all aspects of the project, including requirements, design, development, testing, and deployment.
  • Build incrementally from firm foundations: DSDM emphasizes incremental delivery of a project, ensuring each increment builds upon a solid foundation of established requirements, design and development work.
  • Develop iteratively: DSDM promotes iterative development which allows for feedback and continuous improvement. This approach also facilitates the identification of issues earlier in the development process.
  • Communicate continuously and clearly: DSDM promotes continuous communication between cross-functional teams, stakeholders, and the project’s customers.
  • Demonstrate control: DSDM provides mechanisms for tracking progress, risks, and issues while enabling continuous monitoring and control of the project.

Differences Between DSDM and Other Agile Frameworks

While DSDM shares some similarities with other Agile frameworks, such as Scrum, there are some key differences. One important distinction is DSDM’s focus on delivering value within a fixed timeframe. DSDM introduces mechanisms like timeboxing and prioritization of scope to ensure that the project delivers within the timeframe.

Unlike Scrum, which focuses on self-organizing teams, DSDM promotes collaboration between cross-functional teams and business stakeholders to achieve consensus on project requirements. Additionally, DSDM has well-defined roles for each member of the team, compared to Scrum, which allows for more fluidity in team structure through the concept of self-organizing teams.

DSDM Lifecycle

The DSDM lifecycle consists of eight phases: feasibility, business study, functional model iteration, design & build iteration, implementation, deployment, and post-project review. Each phase is iterative, and they build incrementally towards the final product. The process is designed to enable the project team to continuously communicate and negotiate with business stakeholders while ensuring that each increment delivers value.

Phase Description
Feasibility The initial phase establishes the feasibility of the project.
Business Study This phase aims to understand the business requirements and determine the best way forward to address them.
Functional Model Iteration This phase focuses on developing a functional model that outlines the solution in detail.
Design & Build Iteration This phase involves the actual design and construction of the solution.
Implementation This phase involves the integration and testing of the solution in preparation for deployment.
Deployment The final phase involves making the solution available to its users.
Post Project Review After the project has been successfully delivered, a review is conducted to identify lessons learned, areas for improvement, and the final evaluation of the project’s success.

The DSDM lifecycle is iterative, with each phase building upon the previous one while focusing on delivering value within a fixed timeframe. The approach enables the project team to be responsive to business needs while providing a framework for high-quality project delivery.

Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto is a set of values and principles that serves as a foundation for Agile methodologies. It lays out a way of working that prioritizes customer satisfaction, teamwork, and a flexible approach that allows for changing requirements. At its core, the Agile Manifesto is about delivering value to customers through iterative development and constant feedback.

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: Agile methodologies prioritize individual engagement and communication over rigid processes and tools. The goal is to encourage collaboration and adaptability.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation: Agile teams focus on delivering working software that meets customer needs, rather than extensive documentation that may not be relevant.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: Agile projects involve the customer throughout the development process, seeking their input and feedback. This helps ensure that the final product meets their needs.

The Agile Manifesto is not prescriptive; it does not specify exactly how software development should be done. Instead, it is a flexible framework that can be adapted to meet the needs of individual teams and projects. This flexibility is one of the key strengths of Agile methodologies, as it allows for continuous improvement and optimization.

To help guide Agile projects, the manifesto is supported by 12 Agile principles. These principles are based on the values of the manifesto and provide more detailed guidance for Agile teams:

1. Customer satisfaction through continuous delivery of valuable software 7. Working software is the primary measure of progress
2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development 8. Agile processes promote sustainable development
3. Deliver working software frequently, with a preference to the shorter timescale 9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility
4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project 10. Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential
5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done 11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams
6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation 12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly

Adhering to these principles can help teams stay focused on delivering value to customers, while remaining flexible and adaptable.

DSDM vs. Scrum

Dynamic Systems Development Methodology (DSDM) and Scrum are two popular Agile frameworks that are commonly used by organizations worldwide. While both approaches follow the Agile principles, they have several differences in terms of their philosophy, practices, and implementation. In this article, we will discuss the difference between DSDM and Scrum in detail.

  • Project Scope: DSDM focuses on delivering the right solution that meets the needs of the business and users. It emphasizes the importance of defining the scope and requirements upfront and delivers the project in stages. On the other hand, Scrum follows an iterative approach. It focuses on delivering a working product incrementally with each sprint and welcomes changes in the project scope during the development process.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: In DSDM, there are several predefined roles, including Executive Sponsor, Project Manager, Business Ambassador, and Technical Coordinator, among others. Each role has specific responsibilities, and the team members have defined expectations from their roles. In Scrum, there are three primary roles – Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development Team. The team members are self-organized and cross-functional, and they collaborate closely and work towards the common goal of delivering a working product incrementally.
  • Time Management: DSDM follows a timeboxed approach, which means that the project has fixed timelines, and the team must deliver the requirements within that time. It emphasizes prioritizing the requirements and delivers the most important features first. Scrum also follows a timeboxed approach, but it works on smaller iterations called sprints. Each sprint is typically two to four weeks long, and the team delivers a potentially releasable product increment at the end of each sprint.

While both DSDM and Scrum have some differences, several organizations blend them to create their own tailored Agile frameworks that suit their specific needs.

Let us look at a table that summarizes the key differences between DSDM and Scrum:

Factor DSDM Scrum
Project Scope Deliver the right solution that meets the needs Deliver a working product incrementally with each sprint
Roles and Responsibilities Several predefined roles with specific responsibilities Three primary roles with cross-functional teams
Time Management Timeboxed approach with fixed timelines Timeboxed approach with shorter sprints

It is essential to choose an Agile framework that aligns with your organization’s goals, culture, and values. Despite their differences, both DSDM and Scrum are effective Agile frameworks that promote flexibility, collaboration, and iterative development.

Agile Methodology Comparison

Agile and DSDM are both iterative and incremental approaches to software development, but there are some differences between the two. Here’s a closer look at how the Agile approach compares to DSDM:

  • Approach: Agile is an umbrella term for a range of methodologies, including scrum, kanban, and XP. DSDM, on the other hand, is a specific Agile methodology with its own set of principles and practices.
  • Focus: Agile focuses on delivering working software in short iterations, usually a few weeks in length. DSDM also focuses on delivering working software early and often but places more emphasis on maintaining a focus on the business goals and objectives of the project.
  • Roles: Both Agile and DSDM rely heavily on cross-functional teams, but the specific roles and responsibilities may differ. DSDM includes specific roles such as business sponsor, business visionary, and technical coordinator, which may not be present in other Agile approaches.

Overall, the main difference between Agile and DSDM is the level of focus on the business objectives of the project. DSDM provides a framework for ensuring that the software being developed aligns with the business goals and provides some structure around how to achieve this.

Here is a table summarizing some of the key differences between Agile and DSDM:

Agile DSDM
Approach Umbrella term for a range of methodologies Specific Agile methodology with its own set of principles and practices
Focus Delivering working software in short iterations Delivering working software early and often with a focus on business goals
Roles Relies heavily on cross-functional teams Includes specific roles such as business sponsor, business visionary, and technical coordinator

Both Agile and DSDM have proven to be effective approaches to software development, and which one you choose will depend on the specific needs and goals of your project.

What is the difference between DSDM and Agile?

Q: What is DSDM?
A: Dynamical Systems Development Method (DSDM) is a framework that was created to deliver software projects faster and more efficiently. It is a highly structured approach to development that focuses on collaboration, constant communication, and customer involvement throughout the project lifecycle.

Q: What is Agile?
A: Agile is an umbrella term that refers to a set of methods and practices that are used to develop software. Agile development is based on a flexible and iterative approach to software development that allows teams to adapt to changes in requirements and feedback throughout the project.

Q: How are DSDM and Agile different?
A: DSDM is a specific framework that is based on a set of principles and guidelines for software development. Agile, on the other hand, is an umbrella term that encompasses several different frameworks and methodologies, including DSDM.

Q: What are some similarities between DSDM and Agile?
A: Both DSDM and Agile place a strong emphasis on collaboration, communication, and customer involvement throughout the project lifecycle. Both frameworks are also iterative in nature, allowing teams to adapt to changes in requirements and feedback throughout the development process.

Q: Which approach should I choose for my project?
A: The choice between DSDM and Agile will depend on your specific project requirements and organizational needs. It is important to evaluate both approaches and choose the one that is best suited for your project and team.

Thanks for Reading!

We hope this article has helped you understand the difference between DSDM and Agile. Remember, the choice between these two approaches will depend on your specific project requirements and organizational needs. Thanks for reading and be sure to visit us again for more informative articles!

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