Disciplined Agile: A Complete Overview (2021)


Before understanding disciplined agile, we must first understand what agile is. Agile in project methodology is a process through which a team manages a project by breaking it into several smaller projects. The process starts with the client describing the use of the final product. After understanding the client’s requirement, the teams start planning, executing, and evaluating the product. It can be defined as a project management methodology characterized by developing products according to customers’ needs, using short cycles of work that allow rapid production and editing if necessary.

Let us understand Agile with an example. Suppose you are ordering a pizza in a restaurant. The restaurant gives you different options for toppings like olives, capsicum, more cheese, less cheese, etc. So here, the pizza toppings are customized as per the choice of the customer. Not every customer is served the same pizza toppings. Agile does the same. It gives a tailored solution as per the needs of the client. It provides flexibility in the strategy of the project and discourages inefficient practices like heavy documentation, an excessive amount of meetings, rigid adherence, etc.

In 2001, there was a group of 17 software developers developed The Agile Manifesto, a book that describes the twelve principles of the Agile framework.  

The twelve principles are as follows:

  • Customer satisfaction through quick and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  • Welcoming changing requirements, even in late development.
  • Delivering working software more frequently (weeks rather than months).
  • Close collaboration, daily cooperation between business persons and developers.
  • Projects are built around motivated individuals, and they should be trusted.
  • A face-to-face conversation is the best way of communication.
  • Working software is a key measure of progress.
  • Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace.
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and great design.
  • Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential.
  • Best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  • Regularly, the team reflects on how to become more effective and adjusts accordingly.

The four core ideas of Agile include:

  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

Some Agile methodologies include Scrum, Extreme Programming(XP), Kanban, and Adaptive Project Framework(APF).

  1. What is Disciplined Agile?
  2. History of Disciplined Agile(DA)
  3. The Seven Principles of Disciplined Agile
  4. Roles of Disciplined Agile Delivery Team
  5. Advantages of using Disciplined Agile
  6. Disadvantages of using Disciplined Agile

1) What is Disciplined Agile?

Disciplined agile can be defined as a process decision toolkit that helps optimize the processes according to each project’s specific needs. It is a people-first agile framework and is a hybrid of various disciplined agile delivery methodologies like XP, Scrum, Kanban, etc. 

Disciplined Agile guides persons, teams, and organizations to optimize their processes. It provides a foundation for business enhancement by showing how various activities like software development, IT Operations, Finance, Procurement, Portfolio Management, and Enterprise Architecture can collaborate and work together. It provides a wide range of customized, context-sensitive ideas and helps make better decisions.   

2) History of Disciplined Agile (DA)

In 2009, Scott Ambler and Mark Lines started the development of DAD (Disciplined Agile Delivery), a software development portion of DA (Disciplined Agile). In 2012, Disciplined Agile was officially introduced through the book, Disciplined Agile Delivery. 

In 2015, a Disciplined Agile framework, called Disciplined Agile 2.0, was developed. A second layer, Disciplined DevOps, and a third layer, called Disciplined Agile IT(DAIT), was added.

In 2017, Disciplined Agile 3.0 was released with the introduction of the fourth layer called Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE). In 2018, Disciplined Agile 4.0, which was referred to as Disciplined Agile Toolkit, was released. It provided the complete process range required for business agility.

In 2019, Disciplined Agile was acquired by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Today Disciplined Agile is the second leading Agile framework in the world, just behind Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).

3) The Seven Principles of Disciplined Agile

  • Delight the customers
  • Be Awesome
  • Be Pragmatic
  • Context Matters
  • Optimize Flow
  • Choice is good
  • Enterprise Awareness

4) Roles of Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) Team

  • Team Leader

The team leader is the Agile process expert, and he manages his team by keeping them focused on the goals and removing hindrances.

  • Product Owner

The product owner owns the vision of the product, priorities, and scope of the product.

  • Architecture Owner

The Architecture owner manages architectural decisions and reduces technical risks.

  • Team Members

The team members deliver the solution.

  • Stakeholders

Stakeholders include the customers and other stakeholders like sponsors, operation engineers, support staff, database groups, finance.

5) Advantages of using Disciplined Agile (Strength)

  • Agile products like SAFe and Scrum can be used to run large programs consisting of many teams, but Discipline Agile can be used for both large programs many teams as well as small programs with even just one team.
  • Disciplined Agile uses a goal-based strategy and a flexible procedure. This allows the team to choose their own strategy, methods, and frameworks that work for them. This freedom ensures better engagement from the team.
  • The relevance of Discipline Agile is not restricted to just one area, and it enhances the overall business agility. If DA is important to just one team, say the marketing team of the organization. Still, the success of the marketing team will benefit marketing, sales, and procurement as they are interconnected.
  • It improves the market competitiveness. As customer delight is one of the principles of Disciplined Agile, a better product will make the customers happy. This will ensure customer loyalty, thereby making your organization more untouchable for business rivals.
  • As Disciplined Agile is a hybrid of various Agile methodologies, it chooses the best elements from each of them. Actually, it is developed to fill the gaps unaddressed by the Agile SAFe methodology.

6) Disadvantages of using Disciplined Agile (Weakness)

  • Since disciplined agile has no rigid guidelines, new organizations may find it difficult to cope up, and it may not be successful for organizations preparing for a transition from the traditional methodology to agile methodology.
  • Due to the lack of strict guidelines, organizations planning to switch to a disciplined agile framework may have to opt for professional consultants, which can be very expensive.


Disciplined agile will be perfect for highly experienced agile teams, but for those newly transitioning into the agile framework, disciplined agile may be somewhat expensive.

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