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Modelling in DSDM: Your Ultimate Guide to Success

Amidst the constantly evolving realm of project development, the pursuit of agility and efficiency remains of utmost importance. Within this context, the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) emerges as a guiding beacon, providing a framework that champions adaptability, cooperation, and incremental advancement.

Central to this approach is the art of modelling—an influential technique that goes beyond mere representation, serving as a conduit for fostering innovation. As we venture into the realm of DSDM’s modelling practices, we uncover a wealth of valuable insights that illuminate the path toward achieving successful project outcomes. Come along on a voyage through the dynamic landscapes of modelling within DSDM, where abstract concepts take tangible form, nebulous ideas gain crystal-clear clarity, and innovation is empowered to take flight.

What is Modelling in DSDM?

Within the framework of DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method), the term “modelling” pertains to the process of crafting visual representations or diagrams that encapsulate diverse facets of a project, system, or solution. This technique serves as a vehicle for communication and comprehension among stakeholders and team members, facilitating the analysis, design, and documentation of various project components.

DSDM places a strong emphasis on the utilisation of modelling methodologies to illuminate and visualise distinct elements of the developmental journey. These models encompass an array of diagrams depicting system architecture, data flows, user interfaces, business processes, and more. Modelling plays a pivotal role in deconstructing intricate concepts into more digestible constituents, thus fostering efficient collaboration, feedback exchange, and informed decision-making throughout the project’s entire lifespan.

Through the creation and dissemination of models, teams engaged in a DSDM project cultivate a shared grasp of requisites, design selections, and system behaviour. This fosters harmonisation among the development team, stakeholders, and clients—an essential component of DSDM’s iterative and collaborative essence.

Why is Modelling in DSDM Important?

Modelling assumes a paramount role in shaping the triumph of the methodology, its significance emanating from several pivotal reasons that harmonise with DSDM’s principles and aspirations:

  • Enhanced Clarity and Comprehension: Central to DSDM is the ethos of collaboration and ceaseless communication. Modelling introduces a visual vernacular that transcends technical lingo, rendering intricate concepts, prerequisites, and design facets accessible to teams and stakeholders alike. Models usher in a collective comprehension, curtailing misunderstandings and assuring congruity among all parties involved.
  • Iterative Refinement: In the realm of DSDM, iteration reigns supreme. Models facilitate the division of projects into manageable segments, allowing teams to iterate on smaller fragments and continuously enhance their grasp and design. This cyclic modus operandi culminates in an outcome that is more precise and polished.
  • Amplified Collaboration and Feedback: Modeling serves as a catalyst for collaborative endeavours. Diverse stakeholders, spanning developers to business experts, can actively partake in dialogues centred around the models. This augmentation of feedback loops guarantees that solutions are fashioned to aptly address business requisites.
  • Effective Risk Mitigation: DSDM places primacy on the early and continuous vigilance toward risk. Modelling empowers teams to simulate and validate concepts, preempting potential bottlenecks and detecting voids before they metamorphose into obstructions. This proactive stance assuages risks and heightens project outcomes.
  • Harmonization with Business Objectives: DSDM remains attuned to business imperatives, and modelling bridges the gap between technical choices and tangible business value. Models elucidate how solutions harmonise with business procedures, easing informed determinations that contribute to the attainment of organisational aims.
  • Documentation and Knowledge Propagation: Modeling introduces a methodical approach to cataloguing design resolutions, an aspect of paramount import in an environment characterised by recurrent modifications and iterations. Models transform into repositories of knowledge, facilitating the transmission of wisdom and the assimilation of new team members.
  • Nurturing Innovation and Ingenuity: Models incite creative cogitation by providing a canvas to explore diverse notions and approaches. DSDM’s cyclic nature empowers teams to experiment with sundry solutions, nurturing innovation while remaining aligned with project objectives.

Modelling for Your Target Audience

Defining and modelling for your target audience

The alignment of business objectives and strategies with the project’s scope is pivotal. DSDM operates on the premise that not every perspective necessitates the creation of models unless there is discernible value in doing so. However, it is prudent to ensure, throughout the course of a project, that no perspective has been inadvertently overlooked, rather than intentionally omitted.

During the foundational phase of the project, particularly while compiling a high-level Prioritized Requirements List, models can play a pivotal role in fostering clarity within the entire team regarding the solution’s scope and boundaries. An instance of modelling in the foundational phase is the utilisation of user story mapping.

You can learn more about defining your target audience and target market here.

A user story map serves as a visual conduit for establishing connexions between User Stories. This aids in shifting focus to the broader panorama and comprehending how individual User Stories interrelate. The resulting visualisation facilitates the organisation of stories based on their priorities and relationships, serving as the bedrock for the formulation of the Delivery Plan and Timebox Plans.

The array of modelling techniques available is extensive, encompassing those concentrating on a business perspective as well as those exclusively for IT. Some of the widely employed techniques encompass:

  • Storyboards
  • Flowcharts
  • Swim-lane diagrams
  • Process models
  • Class models (IT)
  • Use case diagrams (IT)

How Should You Model In The Different Agile Stages?

The extent of modelling during each phase of the DSDM lifecycle should align with the complexity and attributes inherent in the respective project or programme.

Pre-Project Phase Modelling

During the Pre-Project phase, utilising pre-existing high-level models can prove advantageous in depicting how the present project or its potential solution aligns within a broader context of change, such as its integration into a larger-scale programme.

Feasibility Phase Modelling

In the Feasibility phase, models are apt to provide a straightforward overarching depiction of the proposed concept. Their role lies in investigating potential avenues and facilitating the communication of choices. Feasibility prototypes can come into play to delineate both technical possibilities and to offer a visual representation of the business-oriented appearance of a solution.

Foundations Phase Modelling

In the Foundations phase, the focus shifts towards generating models that are more detailed and comprehensive. These models play a crucial role in conveying plans and objectives to diverse groups of stakeholders. Models depicting current and envisaged states of business processes and organisational structures hold significance, as do overarching blueprints of technical solutions, including system architecture and data models. This juncture calls for the application of models and prototypes to enhance scope definition and facilitate top-level strategizing by bringing to light any oversights, contradictions, and interdependencies.

Evolutionary Development Phase Modelling

Throughout the Evolutionary Development phase, it’s probable that high-level models will persistently evolve, gaining depth and intricacy. These models serve as a means to delve into the intricacies of requirements and their alignment with the evolving solution. In instances where relevant, models might be crafted to assist in the deployment process and to facilitate the continual operation and maintenance of the solution during active usage.

Deployment Phase Modelling

The generation of novel models during this phase is improbable; however, select models established to aid in deployment could find utility at this stage, possibly undergoing refinement for forthcoming Project Increments as deemed suitable. Moreover, models devised to facilitate the operation and maintenance of the solution might undergo enhancement as the transition to active utilisation unfolds.

Post-Project Phase Modelling

During the post-project phase, the models utilised for the purpose of operating and upholding the solution will persistently undergo refinement, aligning with any alterations that transpire within the Deployed Solution as time progresses.

Business Change Modelling

During the deployment phase, the models portraying the current state (as is models) give way to the models representing the intended future state (to be models) of the new product or service. It’s crucial to distinctly differentiate between these two closely related models and to explicitly indicate which is being modelled to prevent subsequent confusion.

Generally, it’s advisable to keep the models as straightforward as possible, unless there exists a compelling reason to do otherwise. For instance, additional detail might be necessary to facilitate business change initiatives or to comprehend the transitional tasks. The roles of Business Visionary and Business Ambassador serve as embodiments of such as is information and should be accessible throughout the project’s duration and during the transition to the new operational methods. The Business Analyst holds the modelling expertise required to progressively refine these valuable diagrams. The availability of the Business Visionary and Business Ambassadors serves the purpose of confining excessive intricacies that can occasionally obscure such models, consequently preserving their effectiveness.


What is Modelling in DSDM?

Within the context of DSDM, models play a role in facilitating communication among teams comprising diverse specialisations such as business and technical domains. It is imperative to assess the efficacy of each specific modelling approach in catering to the entire target audience.


Irrespective of the product or business solution in development, DSDM underscores an iterative, incremental, and collaborative approach to modelling, aligning with the DSDM lifecycle. This approach hinges upon effective communication as its linchpin.

DSDM champions a culture of transparent and continual communication, employing robust techniques to achieve this end. Modelling stands out as a cornerstone within DSDM’s repertoire of practices, serving to enhance communication efficiency. Models should evolve iteratively, embracing a top-down progression from a comprehensive view to intricate details, while considering diverse perspectives.

It’s imperative that models perpetually serve as a facilitator and never metamorphose into bureaucratic encumbrances. The essence of models lies in augmenting communication effectiveness for all levels and participants in the developmental trajectory. The selection of models should be guided by the targeted audience; opt for models that resonate with their understanding.

The deployment of models, along with the formality of their creation and review, varies based on factors such as the model’s purpose, project nature, and the team’s skillset. The level of modelling required for constructing a new power station substantially differs from that necessary for crafting a small website.

DSDM does not prescribe any specific modelling techniques, though established standard approaches exist. The guiding principles are simple:

  • Leverage methodologies that align with the project and organisation, capitalising on existing organisational skills.
  • Utilize diagrams and models as tools to foster a common language among teams.
  • Engage in sufficient, appropriate modelling, avoiding unnecessary excess.
  • Modelling is intended to offer visual clarity for complex concepts.
  • Models aid in clarifying high-level perspectives.
  • Models assist in breaking down projects into manageable work segments.
  • Models serve as the foundation for increment and timebox planning.

If you found this article useful, check out our complete guide to Agile and our discussion on story point estimation.

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