Market study on the State of Practice in 2014


Agile methods and practices are continuously gaining ground in the automotive sector and this was confirmed by our survey: Agile in Automotive. State of Practice 2014. Building on initial successes, the manufacturers and suppliers questioned for the survey said that they have, on average, been using methods such as Scrum, XP, or Kanban since the fall of 2011, primarily with the aim of making their development processes more efficient and managing complexity. 

“It’s different in the automotive industry. Agile methods don’t work in this area” – a common myth. The recent study – Agile in Automotive. State of Practice. –  debunks this myth as a simple excuse. According to the respondents (managers at OEMS and leading suppliers), agile development methods have been used in their business on average for 39 months. One third of companies have already completed transformation, beyond initial rollout and piloting. 

Agile in Automotive: State of Practice
Fig.: Survey (above) and poster
Survey Agile in Automotive

The respondents included managers from Germany and the United States responsible for distributed development projects in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

The interviewees that provided information were 

  • Heads/managers of development: 41 %
  • Project managers: 32 %
  • Quality managers: 27 %

Software development has remained a key area for agile methods in the automotive industry. Users of agile methods primarily understand the term to mean using the project management frameworks Scrum and Kanban as techniques for managing processes, but it also includes feature-driven development (FDD) and XP. Methods such as daily standups (83%), retrospectives, and continuous integration (72%) are also used, although only one fifth of respondents said they employ pair programming.

Agile across the board

Surprisingly, agile methods have gained more ground in series development projects than research (89%). The respondents were much less likely to use Scrum and Kanban in pre-series and R&D (44% and 11%, respectively). The methods are used for all kinds of control devices, in brakes development and in driver assistance/automatic driving.

Examples of application domains:

  • Body electronics: 45%
  • Multimedia applications: 39%
  • Integrated systems/services: 38%
  • Powertrain and chassis control: 33%

Individual adaptations: quite normal

Front-line specialists in vehicle development adapt agile concepts to their individual needs. This can be seen by looking at Scrum: 83% of users organize daily standups  whereas only 39% employ user stories. Just under one third of the companies surveyed have Scrum Masters to support the agile teams.

Key determinants with the implementation of agile methods are the support given by management, communication, and the freedom to try out new things.

Users appreciate flexibility

The aim of people working in these areas is to reduce the time taken to develop solutions. Traditional, sequential development schedules have been found to be too inflexible to manage the complexity encountered.

The pioneers of agile methods were rewarded for the efforts with higher productivity and satisfied teams. Another benefit was the visibility of teams and achievements within the organization – to a certain degree, improved communication made it possible for the teams to not only facilitate positive outcomes, but to discuss them as well.

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Agile in Automotive. State of Practice 2014 is licensed by Kugler Maag Cie under Creative Commons 4.0: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International