Mature robust and Agile DSDM celebrates being twenty

By Mary Henson | 1 September 2014

DSDM Celebrates Twenty Ed HoltEarlier this year I was delighted when Ed Holt agreed to be interviewed about how DSDM and the DSDM Consortium came into being twenty years ago.  Ed was the first Chairman of the Consortium heading up a team that delivered the first version of DSDM in little more than a year from the first stakeholder meeting.

We met during May on the terrace of the Grange St Pauls Hotel with great views across London and I began by asking Ed what the drivers for DSDM had been.  He told me there had been two:  the first on the customer side – the large corporations using traditional approaches for their projects with all the usual experiences of projects being late, or not turning out to be what was actually needed and ignoring changing business requirements.  There had been a real need within organisations for an approach to managing projects that was neither Waterfall nor sequential. 

The second driver had come from the supplier community where they had their own proprietary methods and tools e.g. Oracle Case.  Nobody at that time had a publically available method that wasn’t tied to a vendor and Ed had seen a way to help address these problems.  Through bringing together people from many diverse organisations to share their project experiences in an open environment, guidance could be produced and shared within a community eager to find better ways of managing and delivering IT projects.

The idea found favour with around 40 attendees at the first meeting in January 1994.  To fund the various activities it was decided to introduce a subscription model enabling both organisations and individuals to participate in and benefit from the development of the new guidance which became known as DSDM.  At that time it was very much about systems development and early adopters included such well-known names as British Airways and BT along with many others from both the customer and supplier communities.  Ed had not imagined back in 1994 that DSDM would grow to become what it is today although he still feels there is plenty of scope for adoption, especially within government.

DSDM Celebrates TwentyIn June we celebrated the 20th Anniversary in style at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel when not only Ed but all past DSDM Chairmen – Paul Taylor, Tony Mobbs and Barry Fazackerley - were welcomed by current Chairman, Steve Messenger. Steve thought it was a bit like a Doctor Who reincarnation, although I don’t think you ever see all the doctors in one place at the same time.  To complete the evening, we were especially pleased to see Jennifer Stapleton who was instrumental in compiling the first versions of DSDM and Dai Clegg, the inventor of the MoSCoW prioritisation technique which has been a fundamental practice in DSDM since its inception.  Members and non-members from the UK and Europe enjoyed an evening that not only looked back and celebrated DSDM’s history but also looked forward with the launch of the latest version of DSDM ‘The DSDM Agile Project Framework’.

Over the intervening years since 1994 DSDM has evolved and is no longer used exclusively in systems development but in a wide range of projects.  The DSDM Agile Project Framework is freely available to use from the DSDM website and the not-for-profit Consortium has broadened its portfolio to include guidance in Agile Project Management, Agile Programme Management and Agile Business Analysis.  It is encouraging that more and more organisations are adopting DSDM either for its robust and fully Agile practices for establishing and demonstrating control in a project or because it can be easily tailored to complement other project management disciplines such as PRINCE2® or PMI or Agile product delivery approaches such as SCRUM. 

Here’s to the next twenty years!


Mary Henson
DSDM Consortium

Published by PM Today, September 2014