DSDM Atern

Dynamic systems development method (DSDM)

DSDM is an agile project delivery framework, primarily used as a software development method. Atern is the latest version of DSDM.




DSDM Atern is owned by the DSDM Consortium. The mission of the not-for-profit DSDM Consortium is to promote best practice and learning in Agile project delivery.

Brief history and description

DSDM Atern is a proven and robust Agile framework for effective Project Management and Delivery; providing best practice guidance for on time, in budget delivery of projects – with proven scalability to address projects of all sizes and for any Business Sector.

First released in 1994, DSDM originally sought to provide some discipline to the rapid application development (RAD) method. In 2007 DSDM became a generic approach to project management and solution delivery. DSDM is an iterative and incremental approach that embraces principles of Agile development, including continuous user/customer involvement. DSDM fixes cost, quality and time at the outset and uses the MoSCoW prioritization of scope into musts, shoulds, coulds and won’t haves to adjust the project deliverable to meet the stated time constraint. DSDM is one of a number of Agile methods for developing software and non-IT solutions, and it forms a part of the Agile Alliance.

The most recent version of DSDM, launched in 2007, is called DSDM Atern. The name Atern is a shortening of Arctic Tern (a kind of bird). DSDM Atern is free to view and is complemented by a full set of materials, handbook and templates – and supported by the DSDM Consortium.


The phases in a DSDM Atern project. Red lines indicate primary route, pale blue lines indicate optional routes (source: Wikipedia / author: Craig Cockburn)

Target Audience

Software developers and project managers and staff.

User communities and groups

The DSDM Consortium runs a comprehensive membership scheme. Some of the possible memberships are: Community Member, End User Member (Academic, Charity, Corporate or Government). There are different memberships for licensed resellers.

Official publisher

The DSDM Consortium. The Atern E-Book and several white papers can be obtained from the official DSDM site. Some publications are free to download for members. Non-members pay a fee.

Accreditations and qualifications

The DSDM Consortium offers several levels of certification for its standards. The certification scheme for DSDM comprises the standard and higher level certifications:

  • Foundation
  • Practitioner
  • Higher Levels
    • Advanced Practitioner
    • Trainer and/or Coach
    • Consultant

Training organizations are accredited by the APM Group and/or the DSDM Consortium.


PROJECT in a Box© is a project methodology support tool which comes populated with DSDM Atern and PRINCE2

Templates are available to Consortium members free of charge. Non-members can buy templates from the DSDM web shop.


Official Sites DSDM consortium home page
User groups and communities DSDM consortium membership page
Publications DSDM consortium book shop
Accreditations and Qualifications DSDM consortium professional development
Tooling DSDM consortium shop
  Atern templates
Other useful links n/a
FREE IBPI documents Whitepapers