The State of Practice series provides experts with practical information on the challenges you can expect to meet during a development project and methods that can be applied in specific situations.BACK TO AGILE IN AUTOMOTIVE
Scrum – the method of choice? Certainly not. Automotive companies and their suppliers now use a whole range of agile development processes. They consider the entire spectrum of agile options and consciously pick the processes and methods that are most likely to work in any given situation. We know this from a survey we conducted called Agile Automotive. State of Practice.
Agility has been a huge success in the automotive industry. Yet not long ago, agile development processes, methods and practices were dismissed in regulated vehicle development. But in the meantime, the industry has to a certain extent matured in its ability to pick the right agile methods. In addition to classic methods such as Scrum and Kanban, the proponents of agile practices now consciously pick the development method that is most likely to work for them.
In 2014, Scrum stood on top of the agile pedestal. Other processes and methods are now quickly catching up. Kanban and continuous integration (CI) have made significant progress.
Kanban is always a suitable choice if emphasis needs to be placed on workflows.
More and more users are beginning to realise that Kanban does more than graph or visualise project management. As a result, Kanban principles are now being followed more strictly (one example: stringent demarcations between the activities that teams or team members are supposed to carry out at the same time).
“Kanban is always a suitable choice if the emphasis needs to be placed on workflows,” says study coordinator Sergej Weber, describing the background. “For example, when you’re troubleshooting, an event is triggered when an error is detected. A ticket is set up for this, prioritised and managed on the Kanban board. It’s different with ongoing developments of a product, when an iterative approach would be recommended using Scrum as an agile project management framework.”
Most agile projects have something to do with software development. That said, the picture was different last year: in 2014, agile methods were also applied to requirement assessments and systems design. There was a 50% drop with requirement assessments.
The dramatic drop on the left-hand side of the V-Model (the German project management methodology) contrasts directly to the right-hand side: more and more emphasis is being placed on the demand for automated testing. This is also reflected in the clear rise in methods such as continuous development and test-driven development.
In total, 42 experts were surveyed.
The article on The Changing Nature of Development – Agile Methods Are Gaining Momentum, which featured in ATZ (the automotive engineering magazine, Edition 4, 2018), describes how agile development methods enhance companies’ ability to adapt to different situations.
The sixth Agile Automotive Conference will take place October 8th, 2020. This year is different: The leading meet-up for agile people involved in automotive electronics is offered as an online event.
State of Practice 2014, our survey on agile methodology in the automotive industry, found that more and more people are turning to agile methods and practices. After initial successes, on average the surveyed manufacturers and suppliers started using agile methods like Scrum, XP and Kanban in the second half of 2011. Their aim was to make development processes more efficient and manage complexity.
“It’s different in the automotive industry. Agile methods don’t work here.” This was a widely held opinion, but a myth. This recent industry survey – Agile in Automotive. State of Practice – exposed such statements as an excuse. According to the survey of managers working for OEMs and leading suppliers, on average agile development methods have already been in use for 39 months. One third of companies have already completed roll-out and piloting.
The survey respondents included managers from Germany and the USA with responsibility for distributed development projects in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.
Software development remains a key area for agile methods in the automobile industry. When asked what they mean by agile methods, many users point to Scrum as a project management framework and Kanban as a process management technique. Feature-driven development and XP are also mentioned. Methods such as daily stand-ups (83%), retrospectives and continuous integration (72%) are also applied, and one fifth of respondents use pair programming.
It was surprising to find that agile methods have become more popular in serial production (89%) rather than research. The respondents are much less likely to use Scrum or Kanban in pilot production (pre-series) or R&D (44% and 11% respectively). These methods are used for all kinds of control units, and equally in the development of braking units and driver assistance systems.
People working in everyday vehicle development are willing to adapt agile methods to their specific requirements. This is best seen by looking at what they do with Scrum: 83% of users organise daily stand-ups, but only 39% employ user stories. Just under two thirds of the surveyed companies use Scrum Masters to support agile teams.
Key factors when introducing agile methods are backing from management, communication and being given the freedom to try out new things.
People working in this area want to shorten product development cycles. The traditional approach involving sequential development has proven to be insufficiently flexible for managing complexity.
The pioneers of agile thinking were rewarded for their efforts with enhanced productivity and more satisfied teams. Their methods also raised the profile of team members and achievements within the organisation. As communication improved, teams were not just able to do good things, but also talk about those good things.