Objectives and Phases of Dynamic System Development Methodology 

DSDM is a generic project management framework that recognizes that all projects are dynamic by nature. DSDM is unique because it has been designed for dynamic environments. Further, the development of DSDM was motivated by an understanding that no one static method can be applied to every different type of dynamic environment. The key to successful dynamic project management using DSDM is to understand how the various methods used in DSDM enable managers to develop new products, improve existing systems or processes, or provide services within dynamic environments.

This is achieved by focusing on dynamic needs, dynamic stakeholders and dynamic solutions to dynamic problems.

Dynamic environment – an environment in which change occurs over time or there is a high probability that the project will involve significant changes. Projects presented with dynamic environments are characterized as having highly uncertain, dynamic or ambiguous factors. The more dynamic a project’s environment, the more difficult it becomes for managers to make good decisions on how projects should be managed and implemented.

The phases, objectives and main activities of Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM) are:

  1. Capture and document the current and desired future states of the system and identify key issues associated with achieving them.
  2. Develop a number of alternative concepts for achieving the vision within scope defined by phase 1.
  3. Conduct trade studies to select an optimum concept or redesign alternatives in light of new knowledge or insights gained during phases 1 and 2 .
  4. Design the selected concept into a detailed plan.
  5. Deploy the solution via installation and user training.
  6. Evaluate actual operation against predicted performance.
  7. Use evaluation results to develop new approaches that may be tested in follow-on phases.

A Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) is a software development process that allows software to be developed in an adaptive way, which captures the desired features of the system early in the life of the process, and creates a baseline for future progress against requirements.

The method was initially created by Dr. Craig Larman while he was consulting at Apple Computer’s Advanced Technology Group under Dr. Larry Tesler, one of Xerox PARC’s seven “Penguin” wizards who helped create today’s personal computer world with their work on Smalltalk, object-oriented programming, graphical user interfaces, networking technologies like AppleTalk and OX Networking protocols.

“Dynamic systems are characterized by uncertainty, continuous change, and dispersed knowledge. The phases of DSDM are designed to address these conditions. DSDM is a product-focussed methodology, and it does not prescribe techniques for requirements elicitation or system design. The phases of DSDM are phases which focus on the product development life cycle.”

“Dynamic System Development Methodology attempts to explore the pragmatic aspects of dynamic systems, using a ‘lightweight’ framework with phases that are explicitly designed for agile delivery.For most projects, phases are iterative and overlap within each other. DSDM phases do not provide an explicit deliverable which can be held up for inspection by management. The phases of DSDM are greater than the sum of their parts because they focus on transitioning between phases.”

“DSDM is a product-focussed methodology, and it does not prescribe techniques for requirements elicitation or system design.” The phases of dsdm are system concept, trade study, detailed design and product realization. As the phases progress, increasing effort is expended towards developing a final solution. The phases can be iterative with returning to earlier phases as essential knowledge becomes available over time.

A key feature of dsdm is that early phases produce products or services that allow stakeholders (sponsors, users) to make informed decisions for new phases by providing access to information produced during previous phases.

Each phase of dsdm helps define objectives specific to that phase which enable tracking progress at all levels from vision through deployment. This feedback process allows the team continuing opportunities for course corrections along the way so it goes faster and ends up better.

The dsdm phases are as follows:

Vision Phase – In this phase, the dsdm team investigates and refines the user’s (sponsor’s) vision of the desired future. This is an extensive research effort conducted with stakeholders to determine their “vision” of what they want the system to be able to do when it is all done. The results inform decisions about how much detail should go into each subsequent phases’ objectives; which parts of the current state (requirements) will stay in scope for later phases; and if additional work needs to happen outside of this project.

Conceptual Architecture Phase – During this phase, the team develops a conceptual architecture that describes how users’ envisioned future would work within the new system. The team defines  and describes the following:

– how current business data will be used by future phases of this project;

– how users are supported by the current phases within this project;

– what is needed to support users where they are today with their processes, data and information needs.


All phases work together to build a complete picture of what the desired future would look like for both the business process owners and IT stakeholders. This helps ensure that everyone knows all that they need to know to collaborate on decisions about when something is done, during each phase of development.

Written by Frederick Jace

A passionate Blogger and a Full time Tech writer. SEO and Content Writer Expert since 2015.

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