What is Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)? DSDM explanation, principles, advantages, and FAQs.

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Dynamic Systems Development Method

Dynamic systems development method (DSDM) is an agile framework that follows an iterative approach to software development. The central idea on which it is based is that “any project must be aligned to clearly defined strategic goals and focus upon early delivery of real benefits to the business”.

Continuous user involvement is essential in DSDM.

The DSDM is an agile development model. In common usage DSDM is referred to as the ‘grown up’ version of agile framework.

The DSDM was invented in 1994. Before that Rapid Application Development was the commonly used agile framework. DSDM developed as an extension of RAD. 

DSDM Framework

DSDM framework can be categorised into three phases 

  1. Pre-project phase: Here we pick out the projects that are to be worked on, register the budget or funds required (and available), and project commitment is established.
  2. Project life cycle: Project lifecycle covers the stages of feasibility and market research, functional model and prototype iteration, design and structure iteration, and execution. 
  3. Post project phase: The objective of this phase is to ensure that the product is working efficiently and as per user and company’s requirements.
    This requires maintenance, rectifications, and performance enhancement. Because of the iterative nature of the project life cycle, the product development is not completed in one cycle, it undergoes retesting for the previous phases to refine the product.

Now let us discuss the project life cycle phase of DSDM. The project life cycle itself has the following phases: 

  • Feasibility and market research: It is a study of necessary success requirements and the constraints of the application that are part of the process following an assessment of the application’s feasibility to the DSDM approach and its ability to cater to business needs.
  • Functional model and prototype iteration: This step involves the production of functional models and prototypes at many levels of demonstrations and trials to garner feedback. The iterative testing helps in the rectification of the prototype at every level and the prototypes move forward to be developed into the real deliverable product.
  • Design and structure iteration: To ensure that the functions that are built are in accordance with the user’s expectations and user’s ease. It involves identifying the design prototype, plan and scheduling, creation of the prototype, review through Iterative testing.
  • Implementation: The product is made available to the end users. The end users are trained to run the product and they provide feedback and raise or report issues with the product experience that are to be solved. This way product excellence can be achieved.

Principles of DSDM

DSDM has eight core principles: 

  1. Focus on market needs
  2. Deliver on time
  3. Collaboration
  4. Quality
  5. Build incrementally from firm foundations
  6. Develop iteratively
  7. Communicate continuously and clearly
  8. Demonstrate control

Advantages of DSDM

  • It’s a rapid process
  • Collaboration and communication are key points of DSDM, the product designers can easily connect to the end users for feedback.
  • Adherence to deadlines.

Apart from these features, DSDM is expensive and might not be suitable for small companies.


Q: What is a DSDM project life cycle?

A: A project life cycle is the collection of phases in a cycle that a product or prototype undergoes to develop into a market ready product. This majorly involves feasibility, business needs, functional model and prototype iteration, design and structure iteration, implementation and enhancement.

Q: What is the difference between RAD and DSDM?

A: RAD methodology was disordered without any one core approach and lesser strictness on deadlines and budget unlike DSDM which is a more structured approach. DSDM is more focused on its principles of collaboration, quality and effective communication among stakeholders.

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