A Guide To Disciplined Agile: Definition, Uses And Benefits

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 6 September 2022

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Project management is an integral part of creating a successful business and often benefits from various approaches and tools to aid decision-making. Tools like disciplined agile (DA) help in minimising the chances of errors significantly when making important decisions regarding a company's internal processes. Because of this, understanding the nuances of DA can be helpful when applying for jobs across various industries.

In this article, we explain what DA is, discuss how it differs from agile, list its principles, review how to use it, share the three phases of a DA delivery and explore the advantages to help you understand the concept better.

What Does Disciplined Agile Mean?

Disciplined agile is a toolkit that provides companies with guidance to streamline their internal processes, increase their commercial success and achieve business agility. It is a people-first framework that guides companies on effectively using various industry tools and resources to achieve their goals. DA is a hybrid model and focuses on borrowing elements of different agile methodologies and customising them based on the project or industry. It helps companies to optimise their processes with the goal of improving the company's financial success by giving employees the freedom to make their own decisions when working on projects.

You can use DA within any team to determine the intents and the activities you can address to make context-specific choices best for your situation. DA usually addresses four views, including:

  • People: DA describes the roles, duties and team structures needed to achieve the desired results.

  • Mindset: It builds on the foundations of lean and agile to address enterprise realities.

  • Practices: DA highlights the techniques that help a team move forward, using specific goal diagrams that offer a high-level pick list of best practices.

  • Flow: DA defines the dynamic elements of processes through lifecycle and workflow diagrams.

Related: Agile Vs. Scrum: What Is The Difference? (With FAQs)

Disciplined Agile Vs. Agile

Agile is a project management methodology that emphasises adaptability in responding to change. It encourages organisations to adapt to change and evolve with the circumstances and technologies available during the timeframe of the project. It is especially useful when applied to projects that do not have specific timelines or resources, as the incremental nature of this framework enables employees to focus specifically on their particular assignment or task during a specific timeframe.

While the DA principle follows the ideas of agile, it converts them into a toolkit that leverages agile practices and similar others to offer guidance based on the context within which the team is working. The DA guidelines, principles and strategies improve agility across departments of an organisation.

Related: What Is A Scaled Agile Framework? (Principles And Benefits)

Principles Of DA

Companies use DA in different ways, as part of their decision-making process. They can do this by integrating elements of the seven principles of DA into their internal processes, which can create a positive impact on the company. Here are the seven principles of DA:

  • Delight customers. Ensure that you consistently exceed the customer expectations with the product or service you provide.

  • Be awesome. When each team member supports the company's core values and project goal, they get motivated to excel and work hard towards achieving that goal.

  • Be pragmatic. Pragmatism refers to evaluating methods based on their effectiveness, which supports the efficiency that DA encourages.

  • Context matters. It is essential to consider the project's circumstances when making critical decisions. This includes keeping the team members, deadlines, industry and market conditions in mind.

  • Optimise flow. Optimising flow ensures that every individual on a team works on assignments or tasks that apply to their strengths and helps them achieve their maximum potential.

  • Choice is good. An essential element of DA is the principle that believes offering freedom to employees and teams is more effective in developing innovation than following a framework.

  • Practice enterprise awareness. A strong enterprise awareness helps employees understand the importance of their contributions to the company's overall goals.

Related: 37 Common Agile Interview Questions With Example Answers

How To Use DA

The DA principles help companies to use it as a guide for their internal decision-making. Here are some steps you can follow to incorporate DA into a business or project:

  1. Understand what DA involves and how it can benefit a company or project.

  2. Define your goals and determine how the DA toolkit can help you achieve them.

  3. Designate teams to different project goals and offer a limited framework to encourage collaboration.

  4. Embrace constructive criticism, reworks and peer review to improve the quality of the final outcome.

  5. Ensure that a manager or project lead checks in with the teams regularly and encourages them to collaborate and learn from each other.

Related: What Is A Sprint In Agile? (Definition, Benefits And Example)

What Are The 3 Phases Of The DA Delivery?

The DA delivery life cycle typically lists the three phases for agile project teams, as below:

1. Inception

In the inception phase, the team initiation activities take place. While it is common to refer to this effort as a sprint zero, it is easy to observe that this effort takes slightly longer than a single iteration. This helps the teams to engage in essential visioning efforts to outline the project effectively. Groups often require a lot of discipline to keep the inception stage short and uncomplicated.

2. Construction

During this stage of the DA delivery, the project team progressively works to create a potentially viable solution through a series of iterations. They may also develop solutions by following a lean and continuous flow approach. The team utilises various methods, such as a hybrid of scrums, agile data, extreme programming (XP), agile modelling and similar techniques to provide suitable solutions.

Related: 9 Project Management Types For A Project Manager

3. Transition

DA understands that deploying a solution to stakeholders may not always be straightforward. Because of this, the entire delivery team and enterprise aim to streamline the delivery process. As a result, the phases become shorter over time, and in ideal conditions, they eventually minimise with the help of continuous deployment strategies.

Related: 16 Types Of Scrum Master Certifications And Their Benefits

What Are The Advantages Of Using DA?

There are several advantages of following a DA approach when managing projects, including:

Widespread success

The tools that the DA model utilises ensure that all departments of the company can benefit from it. As every team contributes significantly to a company's success, everyone can gain from even one team utilising DA approaches. For instance, if a company's marketing department applies DA when choosing their procedures, other departments, such as the sales team, may have increased customer engagement, which increases sales and benefits the entire organisation.


An important element of DA is that it encourages freedom rather than following a strict structure when deciding on the business processes. The people-first approach to DA ensures that the interactions between teams and individuals help take projects forward instead of observing a specific procedure. This dynamism enables employees to be creative and work together, which can help them produce innovative ideas and techniques.

Stimulates the market

One of the first principles of DA delivery is to ensure that you satisfy and exceed the customer's expectations with the product or service you provide, which can help build customer loyalty. Setting a goal to exceed the customer's expectations can improve work ethic, increase productivity and grow revenue. In addition, DA can stimulate the market by inspiring competitors to enhance their processes and compete with the company that utilises DA tools and strategies.

Relevant to companies regardless of scale

Another significant benefit of DA is that its practices and tools apply to all industries and businesses, regardless of their size. The principles of DA can also help improve the efficiency of employees and teams working on projects of all scales. As long as the organisation follows the flexibility and tools and remains dedicated to customer satisfaction, they can incorporate DA into their business processes.

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