Agile Contracts for Dynamic Systems Development

Good to see the Agile Business Consortium has produced a DSDM Agile Contract Template – see related blog post July 2017.  This appears to be very thorough and freely accessible for non-members so that’s a great give back to the Agile community.

Since DSDM projects aim to fix Time and Cost upfront (delivering variable requirements according to priority in fixed-length timeboxes), a time-and-materials based Statement of Work is still a good approach.  The Agile Contract as an alternative is quite thorough and explicit about the roles and responsibilities necessary to make the project successful while allowing for changing requirements including potential the termination of the project at any timebox.


DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method) was the starting point for the Agile Business Consortium, created as a standard way to manage Rapid Application Development within large organisations. Arie van Bennekum represented DSDM in the creation of the Agile Manifesto in 2001 and since then DSDM has been continually updated to reflect advances in Agile practice and interoperability with other methods.

  • Plain English: DSDM is written in very easy-to-understand plain English.  There is very little jargon or vocabulary to learn.  It’s easy to understand what role a Business Visionary might play and what is a Prioritised Requirements List, the methodology defines these clearly within an Agile context without requiring you to learn new words.
  • Comprehensive: DSDM defines many more roles and products than some other methods and is suitable for large and formal/regulated environments.  However it is not prescriptive and encourages good use of pragmatism and common sense.  An individual may cover multiple roles and not all products are required for every project.
  • Free: core DSDM materials including the complete method are now available free, even to non-members.  Members are entitled to additional papers, handbooks and templates on programme/portfolio management, interoperability with other methods and specialist topics.  Membership costs are also very low.

A good example of plain english and common sense: “If you don’t know who is going to read the document, then don’t write it. And if you do know, ask them what they need it to contain.”   The rationale and the roles involved in creating and approving each product are clear, and there is no waste on unnecessary tasks.

Under DSDM you don’t have to run your team and Timebox with Scrum: if you do you will find plenty of guidance for that (also known as AgilePM Framework for Scrum):  if you don’t you will find the DSDM guidance for Timeboxes similar in many respects without adopting all of the same terminology.  DSDM maintains a wider focus on the whole organisation of the business delivery, similar to LeSS (Large-Scale Scrum) or SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework).


Ultimately it’s about the results not the method:  the underlying principles to achieve this are largely common across the different methodologies and the precise terms and techniques used to achieve that are normally adapted to suit the organisation.

The Agile Business Consortium and leading members recognise this and have signed up to Agnostic Agile:


DSDM® consortium

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