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FAQ: What is Disciplined Agile (DA)?

This page answers a collection of questions that explore what DA is.  These questions are:

  1. What is DA?
  2. How does DA relate to business agility?
  3. How does DA work with SAFe?
  4. Can we start with DA?
  5. How is DA architected?
  6. How did DA come about?
  7. Who owns DA?
  8. Where can I find out more?


Q: What is Disciplined Agile (DA)?

A: Disciplined Agile (DA) is a process-decision toolkit that provides straightforward guidance to help people, teams, and organizations to streamline their processes in a context-sensitive manner.  DA is the most comprehensive agile and lean body of knowledge in existence.  It can be used as a toolkit to help you to choose your way of working (WoW) for the unique situation that you find yourself in.  DA is a people-first, learning-oriented hybrid agile approach to IT solution delivery. It has a risk-value delivery lifecycle, is goal-driven, and is enterprise aware.  DA describes how to effectively combine strategies from Scrum, Agile Modeling, Extreme Programming, Kanban, Agile Data, SAFe, and many others in tailorable and scalable manner.  For a quick introduction to Discipilne Agile watch Disciplined Agile in a Nutshell - An animated overview of Disciplined Agile (9 min). 

Q: How does Disciplined Agile (DA) related to business agility?

A: DA provides a solid foundation for business agility by showing how the various activities such as Solution Delivery (software development), IT Operations, Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Security, Finance, Procurement and many others work together. DA also describes what these activities should address, provides a range of options for doing so, and describes the trade-offs associated with each option.

Q: How does Disciplined Agile (DA) work with SAFe?

A: We're seeing a lot of organizations that are struggling with SAFe are now investing in getting their people trained and certified in DA so that they can effectively evolve SAFe to meet the needs of the situation that they face.  So in that respect DA and SAFe complementary.  Our philosophy is DA is to start where you are, do the best that you can in the situation that you face, and always strive to improve. So if SAFe is what you're currently doing, then that's your starting point and DA will help you to improve from there.

Of course we're also seeing organizations start with DA to begin with and thereby avoid the cost of adopting a framework that doesn't fit their situation well.  So in that way they're competitors. Every organization follows their path, and  I hope that eventually, they come to realize that DA is the better path to take them into the future.

Q: Can we start with Disciplined Agile (DA)?

A: Yes! In Disciplined Agile our philosophy is to start where you are, do the best that you can in the situation that you face, and always strive to improve.  So instead of making a huge, and often risky, change to your way of working (WoW) you could instead choose to make small, safe improvements over time.  We call this approach Guided Continuous Improvement (GCI). 

Q: How is Disciplined Agile (DA) architected?

A: The DA toolkit is architected into four views:

1. Mindset. Builds on the foundations of agile and lean to address enterprise realities.

2. People. Roles, responsibilities, and team structures.

3. Flow. This captures the dynamic aspects of processes via lifecycle diagrams and workflow diagrams.

4. Practices. Small strategies/techniques. Goal diagrams are a high-level pick list of practices.

Q: How Did Disciplined Agile (DA) Come About?

A: Disciplined Agile, originally Disciplined Agile Delivery, was developed within IBM Rational, an effort led by Scott Ambler.  DAD was based on empirical observations made by Scott, Mark Lines, other IBMers, and several IBM business partners.  These observations of what was actually occurring in practice, how well it was working, and in what situations it was working were first captured in articles, blog postings, and courseware.  This effort culminated in the book Disciplined Agile Delivery: A Practitioner's Guide to Agile Software Delivery in the Enterprise, published in June 2012.  Since then DAD has evolved into a comprehensive agile and lean toolkit called Disciplined Agile (DA).  The toolkit is described in depth at PMI.org/disciplined-agile

Q: Who Owns DA?

A: As of 01 August 2019, all Disciplined Agile intellectual property (IP) is owned by the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Q: Where Can I Find Out More? 

For more information about DA , visit our Resource pagesDisciplined Agile and read the latest three books on Disciplined Agile.  There is also the DAD FAQs.



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