The Dynamic Systems Development Method Agile Testing

Developed in the United Kingdom in the 1990s by a consortium of organizations and agile practitioners, the Dynamic Systems Development Method(DSDM) is an agile framework that builds upon the principles of RAD.DSDM is based on and iterative development model, which seeks to be responsive to changing customer requirements, and which aims to implement the business requirements on time, to budget and with acceptable levels of quality.

The DSDM is typically applied to information systems projects that are characterized by challenging timescales and budgets, and seeks to address many of the common reasons for information systems project failure,including exceeding budgets, missed delivery deadlines,poor quality, lack of user involvement, and lack of senior management commitment.

The DSDM is founded upon nine key principles:

  1. Active user involvement is imperative.
  2. DSDM teams must be empowered to make decisions.
  3. The focus is on frequent delivery of products.
  4. Fitness for business purpose is the essential criterion for acceptance of deliverables.
  5. Iterative and incremental development is necessary to converge on an accurate business solution.
  6. All changes during development are reversible.
  7. Requirements are baselined at a high level.
  8. Testing is integrated throughout the life cycle.
  9. A collaborative and cooperative approach among all stakeholders is essential.

These principles were framed by combining the agile best practices and experiences of the DSDM consortium members. The first draft of the DSDM framework was delivered in January 1995, followed in February that year by formal publication of the framework. Within its overall iterative approach, a DSDM project is structured into three distinct phases:

  1. Preproject phase – this phase sets the context of the project and ensures it is set up correctly from the outset to give the project the best likelihood of success. Key products delivered from this phase include the the initial definition of the business problem to be addressed, budget and resourcing, outline scope and plans for the feasibility study, and a decision whether or not to proceed with the project.
  2. Project life cycle phase – this phase combines both sequential and iterative stages, which drive the incremental development of the system. Following the initial feasibility and business study stages,the project iterates through the functional model iteration, design and build iteration and implementation stages.
  3. Postproject phase – this phase covers postdelivery activities such as maintenance, enhancements and software fixes, and is used to ensure the ongoing effective and efficient operation of the delivered system.

In terms of its continuing adoption and use, DSDM seems to have been more successful at being accepted by senior management than earlier agile approaches such as RAD due to the perception that it represents a more mature and formal agile method. This perception is further reinforced as a result of the frequent integration of DSDM and the PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) project management method. As a result, more conservative senior managers have been more receptive to the use of DSDM on larger/higher-profile projects with the result that a substantial and vigorous user population has been established around the globe. The DSDM has also proven to be popular with development and testing practitioners,who have continued to refine and enhance the method; since its initial publication in 1995, DSDM has continued to evolve, incorporating new best practices and technologies wherever appropriate.

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