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In the DSDM Atern lifecycle, here. In the foundation phase it states one of the objectives is to:

To start designing the solution architecture and identifying the physical or infrastructural elements of the solution.

My question is, what exactly does this mean?

Does it mean driving into a lot of detail on certain stories if we don't know enough to estimate under 100 points to the point where we may product a prototype to pass the foundation check point?

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  • Think "elements" or "components" rather than implementation details.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Sep 28 '15 at 1:36
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This is a classic "technical" requirements gathering phase. In easier words:

  • Together with a team, take a look at the functional requirements and list all necessary resources you will need to fulfil them

  • Now take a look at your existing infrastructure and figure out how to integrate the previously listed solution components into it. Look for synergies and watch out for constraints (During the solution phase, people tend to fly high and forget existing architecture, regulations and so on)

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In my experience at AXA all projects would first have to pass Foundations before they could proceed

A working party would perform a high level breakdown of the proposed solution to allow a better estimated project scoping.

Hardware, software and resourcing requirements would also be ascertained.

Initial estimation on time scales determined from the newly estimated scope of the project and predicted available resource.

The project would be assessed on how it would fit in with others already scheduled.

Most importantly, the predicted rate of return ROI and justification would be the main driver in deciding whether the project had passed Foundations before a start date could be put down in ink.

So in answer to your question, No, stories are not broken down into ever decreasing level of detail at this stage.

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