DSDM: Definition, Benefits, Principles And Key Practices

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 24 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Project managers looking to start a new project may consider various project management techniques, like the dynamic systems development method (DSDM). This method can help protect managers improve stakeholder communication, remain within budget, deliver outcomes on time and connect project requirements with company objectives. Understanding this approach and procedures can help in applying them effectively in a project. In this article, we define DSDM, discuss its benefits, principles and practices, explain alternative project management approaches and answer some FAQs about this approach.

What Is DSDM?

DSDM is an agile project delivery framework focusing on the entire project life cycle. This versatile and scalable project management approach provides clear guidance on timely and in-budget delivery of projects. Teams using this approach follow specific steps to improve the results for upcoming tasks.

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Benefits Of Employing Dynamic Systems Development Method

Following are some of the key benefits of utilising the dynamic systems development approach:

  • Helps teams adhere to schedule and budget: Businesses can define preliminary schedules and budgets using this technique and make adjustments as necessary as the project progresses.

  • Offers easy scalability: As this approach is simple to scale, project managers can easily adapt the technique for projects of varying sizes and in diverse industries.

  • Is easy to combine with other techniques: Businesses can easily integrate this technique with other project management methodologies. You also have the option to combine it easily with other agile project management strategies, like Scrum.

  • Benefits various sectors: Though computer specialists started using it as a software development approach, project management experts often modify its principles and techniques to benefit other industries and business sectors.

  • Is easy to comprehend for stakeholders: This approach can help demonstrate the value of their project and project progress to stakeholders, including company leaders and clients, using the logical framework.

  • Offers integration with company values: Part of this approach includes ensuring that your project aligns with the organisation's values, mission and objectives.

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Core Principles Of The Dynamic Systems Development Method

Following are the eight core principles of this approach:

1. Focus on the business requirement

The first principle encourages businesses to create a business case. This case helps justify why the program is important to its operations and how it fits with its values and objectives. Companies can prioritise the project requirements and components by focusing on the business case.

2. Deliver on time

This agile project delivery approach uses methods like timeboxing to assist businesses in completing their projects on schedule. Timeboxing allows setting time limitations before starting project tasks. For instance, if a project requires routine team meetings, you can estimate how much time each meeting may take in advance by establishing a thorough agenda. Utilising tactics like time boxing can help a business complete projects on time and foster strong, dependable relationships with clients.

3. Collaborate

This approach also emphasises the value of team members working together. Even while focusing on different tasks, team members using this methodology attempt to advance the project's overall objectives. By doing this, you can increase productivity and foster reliable connections among your team. Cooperating with other participants, such as company executives or clients, throughout the project is another form of collaboration. With coordinated efforts and regular updates, you can ensure all project participants and stakeholders are aware of the project's objectives and progress.

Related: Collaboration Skills: Definition, Benefits And Examples

4. Assure quality

Before starting the project tasks, organisations can develop quality targets and metrics with the help of this approach. Businesses continuously monitor and verify various quality benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) throughout the project. They help ensure the teams are making continuous improvements by using this procedure of ongoing testing. This approach also prompts companies to make a detailed record of their ongoing quality evaluations.

5. Build incrementally from foundations

The foundation phase is one key project management stage. Businesses create a high-level project plan during the foundation stage, often known as the firm foundation. This project management approach encourages organisations to gradually develop their programs while referring to the foundations.

6. Develop iteratively

This approach helps teams get the advantage of incremental delivery, similar to other agile project management approaches. This implies that businesses deliver different parts of the project as it develops. Businesses may benefit greatly from incremental delivery in iterative development. It allows employees to get feedback from customers and testers as they complete different project components, which allows them to improve their approach to upcoming work or feature modifications.

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7. Communicate clearly and continuously

To help ensure your project outputs fulfil the expectations and objectives of the organisation, regular communication with the team, end users and corporate officials are crucial. This agile approach encourages utilising workshops, hosting daily meetings and promoting informal communication among team members. Though this approach requires organisations to document quality metrics, it also encourages enterprises to undertake team and stakeholder interactions in person instead of in writing mediums.

8. Demonstrate control

Project control gives the ability to monitor the development of different project activities and team members. For example, assessing quality measures or KPIs. This approach requires project managers to clearly define and convey to other project participants the project objectives. This agile approach also encourages organisations to learn from their errors and create a new strategic plan if problems develop again during the project.

Practices In This Approach

Following are a few useful practices in the dynamic systems development approach:


MoSCoW is a task grouping and prioritising system. It stands for must have, should have, could have and will not have, which are four distinct prioritising groupings. Organisations can use this technique to rank their projects' objectives from most to least important.


Modelling refers to various detailed visualisations of components of a project or process. Employees can have a deeper understanding of the many tasks involved in their projects and how they relate with the help of such visualisation. Project managers often use modelling to aid in their iterative development when employing such project management techniques.

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Prototyping is a tame and resource-saving practice in many agile project management methodologies. During the early phases of development, businesses can employ prototyping to test different components of their product. Organisations may prototype their ideal project functionality and allow a few end users to test some of the project's features.

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Project stakeholders and end users frequently get together during a workshop session. These people have the chance to talk about the project's requirements, objectives, deliverables and testing at a workshop. This training can assist businesses in providing the value of ongoing, productive user involvement throughout the project.

Alternative Project Management Approaches

Here are some of the alternative project management approaches:

Rapid application development (RAD)

The key goals of RAD are rapid iterations and prototype releases. It places less emphasis on following a rigorous strategy and more on collecting and integrating user feedback. Because of the collaborative aspect of the RAD process and the developers' ability to modify requirements in response to customer feedback, RAD enables more adaptability.

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


Waterfall project management is a linear approach to project planning. This approach organises the project's distinct phases as per the schedule and depending on the accomplishment of the preceding phase. During project execution, the waterfall model can assist you in finishing each phase before beginning the next. With this approach, the project progresses in a single direction and its visualisation looks like a waterfall.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions:

How to decide if this approach is suitable for an organisation?

A suitable project management approach differs depending on factors, including the business objective, the project, the company size and the budget. When deciding whether to use this agile approach for your next project, consider:

  • Adherence to budget: If it is crucial for your project or organisation to stay within budget, this approach may assist by encouraging you to create precise cost estimates before you work on your project.

  • Predictability: This approach can help organisations make precise predictions and follow their project requirement, goals and schedule.

  • Fast and on-time delivery: Companies may develop and deliver outcomes to their stakeholders more quickly when they follow this approach.

Related: New Product Development Process: Steps, Benefits And Tips

What are the major project phases?

The six major project management phases in this approach are:

  1. Pre-project: The pre-project phase enables organisations to create projects with goals and strategies.

  2. Feasibility: During the project inception, businesses determine whether their project is technically feasible, and they also assess their project's cost-effectiveness in the feasibility phase.

  3. Foundations: Companies define the solution their project aims to offer during this phase, along with the deployment and development strategy.

  4. Evolutionary development: Companies use the evolutionary development stage to elaborate on the specifics of their suggested solution and timeboxing to control iterations after identifying the project's requirements.

  5. Deployment: Businesses first assemble and review their project while going through the deployment process before deploying it to end consumers.

  6. Post-project: The post-project phase offers businesses time to assess if their project matches the objectives, specifications, quality standards and expectations set at the project start.

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