The Best Way to Adopt a DAD – Disciplined Agile Delivery

February 22, 2017 Posted by John Harrison

When should you adopt DAD? Not that Dad, Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD).

There has been a great deal of attention around software development over the past 15+ years.  New frameworks and methodologies have been developed, tools developed to support them, and languages evolving to take advantage of the benefits they offer.  This can cause a lot of confusion for companies wanting to utilize new technologies.  You hear a lot of discussion about the benefits of Agile over classic waterfall software development and many companies have jumped on the bandwagon.  But where do you begin? What methodology (and tools) are right for your company? There are so many variations to choose from, DAD, SAFe, Extreme Programming (XP) and so on.

Discovering Agile

A few years back, I was meeting with a Fortune 100 client who had just completed a successful 18-month roll out of their new Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). It was a variation of the Rational Unified Process (RUP).  I asked him, “what’s next?” I half expected him to say he was going to Disneyworld.  His response, “We’re going Agile and, we’ve selected Disciplined Agile Delivery.”  This caught me off guard.  I wanted to ensure I offered my client the right resources, so I reached out to Scott Ambler, one of the co-developers of DAD. After discussing his process and the possibilities it created, he graciously agreed to meet with my client to see if he could contribute in their process.

However, before the meeting could happen the initiative was put on hold. The client realized the amount of effort to effect the change across the organization was too big to swallow at that time. There were too many questions: how would they ensure stakeholder engagement, what new tools would they need, how would they address a massive training initiative, did they have the right staff, and how would they address a dispersed workforce?  Given all of the other strategic initiatives on the docket, they realized resources would be constrained and the effort was simply too much. Fast forward a few years, they are now beginning their Agile journey.

Beginning your Agile Journey

So what are the next steps?  Here are three questions you need to be prepared to answer before committing to going Agile:

  1. Are you moving to Agile for the right reason? You need to understand how it will improve your business.
  2. Are you prepared to fail? Don’t expect perfection from the beginning because change is hard.
  3. Can you manage expectations with Management? If you are moving from a classic waterfall environment to Agile, all of management needs to be prepared to adapt as well.

After asking and answering these questions, a plan must be put into place. The first factor to consider is the transformation size. The most successful transformations or adoptions I have seen were executed on a small scale first.  There are some case studies about large scale adoptions, but most are on a smaller level.

The second key factor to achieving Agile success is having the right coach.  Find a coach that fits your company, don’t just sign up the first person who walks through the door. Make sure your coach asks the right questions and works to find the best answers. Having someone who understands the details and potential roadblocks is important in creating the final plan for executing a new Agile program in your company.

Whether your organization is well down the path of going Agile, or you are not sure where to begin, SmartIT can help. Give me a call or drop me a note on LinkedIn — I would be happy to talk about approaches and possibilities with taking on Disciplined Agile Delivery within your company.

About The Author:


John Harrison is a Strategic Account Executive at SmartIT. He has over 20 years of experience working with large enterprises on a broad range of information technology initiatives. He often serves his clients in an advisory role ensuring they make the best technology decisions to enable their success.