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Disciplined Agile Delivery: A Practitioner's Guide to Agile Software Delivery in the Enterprise (IBM Press) [Paperback]

Scott W. Ambler , Mark Lines
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 May 2012 0132810131 978-0132810135 1

Master IBM’s Breakthrough DAD Process Framework for Succeeding with Agile in Large, Complex, Mission-Critical IT Projects


It is widely recognized that moving from traditional to agile approaches to build software solutions is a critical source of competitive advantage. Mainstream agile approaches that are indeed suitable for small projects require significant tailoring for larger, complex enterprise projects. In Disciplined Agile Delivery, Scott W. Ambler and Mark Lines introduce IBM’s breakthrough Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) process framework, which describes how to do this tailoring. DAD applies a more disciplined approach to agile development by acknowledging and dealing with the realities and complexities of a portfolio of interdependent program initiatives.


Ambler and Lines show how to extend Scrum with supplementary agile and lean strategies from Agile Modeling (AM), Extreme Programming (XP), Kanban, Unified Process (UP), and other proven methods to provide a hybrid approach that is adaptable to your organization’s unique needs. They candidly describe what practices work best, why they work, what the trade-offs are, and when to consider alternatives, all within the context of your situation.


Disciplined Agile Delivery addresses agile practices across the entire lifecycle, from requirements, architecture, and development to delivery and governance. The authors show how these best-practice techniques fit together in an end-to-end process for successfully delivering large, complex systems--from project initiation through delivery.


Coverage includes

  • Scaling agile for mission-critical enterprise endeavors
  • Avoiding mistakes that drive poorly run agile projects to chaos
  • Effectively initiating an agile project
  • Transitioning as an individual to agile
  • Incrementally building consumable solutions
  • Deploying agile solutions into complex production environments
  • Leveraging DevOps, architecture, and other enterprise disciplines
  • Adapting your governance strategy for agile projects


Based on facts, research, and extensive experience, this book will be an indispensable resource for every enterprise software leader and practitioner--whether they’re seeking to optimize their existing agile/Scrum process or improve the agility of an iterative process.


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Disciplined Agile Delivery: A Practitioner's Guide to Agile Software Delivery in the Enterprise (IBM Press) + Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise (Agile Software Development)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: IBM Press; 1 edition (23 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0132810131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0132810135
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 17.9 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Authors

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“Mark and Scott not only made me think, they reminded me of lots of things that I had forgotten. Things that the agile fashion police have made uncool to talk about. This book is not about fashionable agile; it is about serious change, and it should be required reading for any change leader.”

--Dave West, chief product officer, Tasktop, and former VP and research director Forrester Research


“Finally, a practical down-to-earth guide that is true to agile values and principles while at the same time acknowledging the realities of the business and the bigger picture. You will find no purist dogma here, nor any hype or hyperbole. Ambler and Lines show how to navigate the varied contexts and constraints of both team-level and enterprise-level needs to hit the agile ‘sweet spot’ for your team and attain the real benefits of sustainable agility. I wish I’d had this book ten years ago!”

--Brad Appleton, agile/lean development champion for a large fortune 150 telecommunications company


“We have found the guidance from Disciplined Agile Delivery to be a great help in customizing our PMO governance for agile projects at CP Rail. The book will definitely be on the must-read list for teams using agile delivery.”

--Larry Shumlich, project manager coach, Canadian Pacific Railway


“This book is destined to become the de facto standard reference guide for any organization trying to apply agile/scrum in a complex environment. Scott and Mark provide practical guidance and experiences from successful agile teams on what it takes to bring an end-to-end agile delivery lifecycle to the enterprise.”

--Elizabeth Woodward, IBM agile community leader, coauthor of A Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum


“There are many ways to achieve the benefits of agility, so it’s really encouraging to see a pragmatic and usable ‘umbrella’ description that encapsulates most of these without becoming a diluted kind of ‘best of’ compilation, or a one-size-fits-all. Great reading for anyone orientating themselves in an ever-growing and complex field.”

--Nick Clare, agile coach/principal consultant, Ivar Jacobson International


“Scott and Mark have compiled an objective treatment of a tough topic. Loaded with insights from successful application under game conditions, this book strikes a good balance between progressive agilists looking to accelerate change and conservative organizational managers looking for scalable solutions.”

--Walker Royce, chief software economist, IBM


“Disciplined Agile Delivery, a hybrid and experience-based approach to software delivery, reflects the growing trend toward pragmatism and away from the anti-syncretism that has plagued the software development industry for over 40 years. I commend Scott and Mark for writing this book and showing the leadership necessary to take our profession to the next level.”

--Mark Kennaley, CTO, Software-Development-Experts.com; author of SDLC 3.0: Beyond a Tacit Understanding of Agile


“I’ve seen ‘certified agile’ run rampant in an organization and create more severe problems than it solved. Finally, we have a definitive source on how to apply agile pragmatically with discipline to deliver success. Thanks, Scott and Mark.”

--Carson Holmes, EVP, service delivery, Fourth Medium Consulting, Inc.

About the Author

Scott W. Ambler is Chief Methodologist for IT with IBM Rational, working with IBM customers around the world to help them to improve their software processes. In addition to Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD), he is the founder of the Agile Modeling (AM), Agile Data (AD), Agile Unified Process (AUP), and Enterprise Unified Process (EUP) methodologies and creator of the Agile Scaling Model (ASM). Scott is the (co-)author of 20 books, including Refactoring Databases, Agile Modeling, Agile Database Techniques, The Object Primer, 3rd Edition, and The Enterprise Unified Process. Scott is a senior contributing editor with Dr. Dobb’s Journal. His personal home page is www.ambysoft.com.


Mark Lines co-founded UPMentors in 2007. He is a disciplined agile coach and mentors organizations on all aspects of software development. He is passionate about reducing the huge waste in most IT organizations and demonstrates hands-on approaches to speeding execution and improving quality with agile and lean techniques. Mark provides IT assessments and executes course corrections to turn around troubled projects. He writes for many publications and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. Mark is also an instructor of IBM Rational and UPMentors courses on all aspects of software development. His Web site is www.UPMentors.com.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An agile approach for the real world 6 Aug 2012
Having been involved in reviewing and contributing to the early drafts of the book, it's greats to see it get out in to the wild.

An excellent book for those who need to make informed decisions about their implementation of agile rather than, lemming like, following the latest agile fashion.

This book does a great job of giving us a set of decision frameworks for building just enough process for our organisation to be successful. The focus on balancing early business value and addressing technical risk early is interesting. I liked the use of the example project used throughout to highlight the trade-offs teams make and the outcome. This kind of content goes beyond the typical prescriptive books and helps me to understand what choices I have and what are the likely impacts of either making the decision or having the decision made for me. The supporting case-studies in the book are also interesting in supporting the content.

Great for those either starting out or looking to optimize how they bake in a disciplined agile way of working that suits their project, team and organisation.

Great job guys.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read 1 Feb 2013
By Greg
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Its a good guide to agile particularly if you are coming from a more structured project background. Its well worth the time to review it.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Agile Done Right!!!! 12 July 2012
By T. Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
I was excited to see that Mr. Ambler was working on Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) and was looking forward to this book. One of the biggest challenges I have is that most of the successful agile teams I interact with are isolated small teams using Scrum out of the box. It is working on the projects that have small teams with small scope, usually building one application in isolation. They don't have to be concerned with enterprise level integration.

The small successful teams I have seen also do no architecture. Although the end result is exactly what you do not want for high modifiability, they simply get it live. Usually a little buggy and slow, but they make it live nevertheless.

That is not true of all the projects I interact with. There are some large enterprise wide Scrum initiatives. The successful ones brought in an external Scrum coach to train them. Because of the complexity of the project they were also forced to do architecture and design. They ended up back at more of an iterative process. By the time they were done modifying the Scrum process, beside some Scrum names, they were much closer to the Unified Process than Scrum.

Until now my primary resource for information, that I also consider good information, implementing agile practices at an enterprise level has been Scaled Agile Framework. It is completely covered in the book Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise. The Scaled Agile Framework is great,but I am glad to have this second resource!!! The attempts to sell Scrum of Scrums for dealing with enterprise level concerns has failed miserably.

It has been a wild ride. When it was all about UP, RUP, EUP, PLE, and Waterfall I was always in a battle to trim back the process ceremony in order avoid waste being template zombies. Then the Agile Age of Aquarius took over and I couldn't get anyone to give any thought to anything before riding off into cowboy coding bliss. The majority of the projects went from tons of worthless documents to tons of worthless code!!!!

After spending a lot of time battling the Agile Age of Aquarius coding cowboys I am so thankful some of the leaders in the industry, like the authors of this book, are starting to swing the pendulum back the other way. I just wish people would get that it's about tailoring to meet the needs of a project with the resources available. One shoe size doesn't fit everyone.

The book goes into great detail explaining the need for DAD and break it down into digestible parts. The book has 7 parts. I have listed them below with the chapters in each.

Part 1: Introduction to Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD)
Chapter 1: Disciplined Agile Delivery in a Nutshell
Chapter 2: Introduction to Agile and Lean
Chapter 3: Foundations of Disciplined Agile Delivery

Part 2: People First
Chapter 4: Roles, Rights, and Responsibilities
Chapter 5: Forming Disciplined Agile Teams

Part 3: Initiating a Disciplined Agile Delivery Project
Chapter 6: The Inception Phase
Chapter 7: Identify a Project Vision
Chapter 8: Identify the Scope
Chapter 9: Identify a Technical Strategy
Chapter 10: Initial Release Planning
Chapter 11: Forming the Team and Work Environment
Chapter 12: Case study: Inception phase

Part 4: Building a Consumable Solution Incrementally
Chapter 13: The Construction Phase
Chapter 14: Initiating a Construction Iteration
Chapter 15: A Typical Day During Construction
Chapter 16: Concluding a Construction Iteration
Chapter 17: Case study: Construction phase

Part 5: Releasing the Solution
Chapter 18: The Transition Phase
Chapter 19: Case study: Transition phase

Part 6: Disciplined Agile Delivery in the Enterprise
Chapter 20: Governing Disciplined Agile Teams
Chapter 21: Scaling Disciplined Agile Delivery
Chapter 22: Adoption and Tailoring
Chapter 23: Overcoming Organizational Impediments

Part 7: Conclusion
Chapter 24: Towards Lean Disciplined Agile Delivery
Chapter 25: Parting Thoughts

DAD is a hybrid of agile methods including Scrum, XP, Agile Modeling, Lean, Agile Data, and the Unified Process. It does what so many successful Agile projects are doing today that are larger in size. It uses what works, when its needed, and leaves the Agile Zealot Elitist Attitude behind. It is so refreshing to read an Agile book without the attitude.

DAD recognizes Scrum's shortcomings as primarily focused on management and brings back architecture and includes agile development practices that are easily excused from most Scrum projects.

DAD includes phases. It includes a project initiation and release activities that are missing from Scrum. DAD has three phases Inception, Construction, and Transition.

DAD also comes in two flavors, basic and advanced. The primary difference is that advanced is for more experienced teams that can take advantage of lean strategies which eliminates the iterations and the work item stack in favor of the work item pool. The book primarily focuses on the basic DAD process.

The only complaint I have about the book is that the diagrams showing the Disciplined Agile Delivery life cycle - Basic, and the Disciplined Agile Delivery life cycle - Advanced should have been full page diagrams. They are too small to read in the book. It is not really a big deal since they are available on the web.

The book is really well written. It is very detailed and also entertaining making very easy to read. Throughout the book "Lessons from the Trenches" sidebars bring real world experience to the topics being covered.

The authors also include a case study for each of the phases they cover based on a project that builds a point of sale system. This gives the reader the opportunity to see the artifact creating activities in action.

All in all I found the book to be an excellent resource for the agilist looking to move beyond small develop teams. It is an absolute must read for enterprise architects and other senior management working in the IT shop.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Many "agile" buzzwords describing a 30 year old process 23 Jan 2013
By Rony Atoun - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ultimately, when you strip the text of the agile terminology, what you get is an anecdotal description of a standard iterative approach, much better delivered in books like Walker Royce's "Software Project Management - A Unified framework". It reiterates what many software professionals already know: "Iterative" done right is agile. Worse, it brings no concrete metrics to back any of the claims and recommendations. The book addresses another well known fact: Traditional agile (usually meaning Scrum) does not scale up well for Enterprise IT projects requiring large project teams and delivering complex solutions.
The only redeeming value I found in the book is that it concentrates many well known engineering and Project Management best practices, but then again, books like Capers Jones's "Software Engineering Best Practices" do it better and back their findings with facts from well researched studies.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally, someone made an agile strategy for the enterprise. 16 Aug 2012
By Shane Willerton - Published on Amazon.com
Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) adds yet another agile `flavor' to the many currently floating out there. What differentiates DAD from the other Agile flavors is that it incorporates many of the best practices of the non-Agile methodologies in order to achieve what the authors refer to as `Agility@scale'. Too often, agile practices can involve starting from scratch and working in a vacuum. This will work well for small, self-organizing teams working on isolated software development. For the rest of us working in Enterprise I.T., working on small, isolated teams is simply not an option. The integration points too many, the effort too large, infrastructure too intensive or costly and the co-ordination costs are high.
This is where DAD steps in. The authors ambitiously strive to seek a balance between the best of the Agile and Non-Agile project management body of knowledge. Their emphasis is on delivering solutions, not just software. Also, the authors also note the wisdom of leveraging existing infrastructure and enterprise solutions without building from scratch. This is still an Agile approach but one focused more on realities of the medium to large I.T. implementations rather than the small ones. Whereas most Agile approaches strive to keep teams as small as possible, this approach attempts to scale them up for larger projects by creating (potentially) multiple small teams but by putting in place a minimalist project management co-ordination necessary to keep those teams working for the same goals. The authors leverage Lean practices, Extreme Programming (XP), Open Unified Process (OpenUp), Scrum, Agile Modeling and Agile Data approaches, as well as a number of other sources, to scale up the successes that Agile approaches have had on smaller implementations.

All in all, this is a very good book on a very much needed topic. With all the acronyms and frequent project manager-speak, it can be a little rough of a read. This is a good choice for a Project Manager or Team Lead who is struggling to fit their enterprise effort into the small teams recommended by most Agile methods.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor coverage of scaling Agile to the Enterprise 16 Sep 2013
By JWM - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Did not cover either the Portfolio or Program levels of Agile infrastructure. Same old info about Agile teams as has been covered before. Uses the Lean buzz word but does not cover Lean innovations like VSD to improve the process or deliverables.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The scaling Agile wars are over and DAD and SAFe won. (despite Ken Schwaber's sour grapes) 7 Sep 2013
By Steven Mather - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
DAD provides more piratical 'how to' solutions than a framework like SAFe that is more prescriptive. Agile at scale or for the enterprise does require some prescriptive practices due to the complexities involved. SAFe provides a core framework whereas DAD is very non prescriptive by saying that in a given scenario here are some options of how to resolve a scenario. What I think we will see is a compounded solution for scaling Agile. SAFe will act as the core framework and DAD will provide practical augmentation.

Scott has done a fantastic job of identifying the patterns we face in scaling and this book will be a classic reference for some time.
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