adesso advises on the factors for successful agile software development in the automobile industry

Dortmund | 13. September 2018

adesso supports German automobile companies in the transition to agile software development. The IT service provider explains what really counts.

Agility is more than just a buzzword – in recent years it has become a proven method in software development. Agile principles ensure that projects are more streamlined, more flexible and less bureaucratic. Companies in all sec-tors are realising it can save them time and money – particularly automobile manufacturers and their suppliers. Speed plays an important role here, not least because there has been huge growth in the quantity of software and elec-tronics used in vehicles. While it takes years on average to bring a new auto-mobile model to market, the development cycles for the software components used in the vehicle are far shorter. And today’s customers expect new cars to have the latest high-tech equipment. That means perfect timing is essential.

In the context of those market developments, agile processes allow automo-bile manufacturers to rapidly and flexibly adapt their planning, development, ordering and production systems to new requirements. “Agile development gives the major automobile manufacturers competitive advantages, but also requires the transformation of their corporate culture. Our years of experience with agile methods allow us to support the automobile industry in the imple-mentation of the changes required,” says Stefan Hussmann, Director Line of Business Automotive and Transportation at adesso.


Stefan Hussmann manages the Automotive division at adesso AG.

Here are adesso’s tips for a successful “agile transformation”:

1. Embrace the changes at the top: Becoming agile means changing your culture. To achieve that successfully, management has to set an example. Because it results in new roles, managers have to give up their traditional posi-tion and delegate responsibility to employees, who get more authority to make decisions

2. Look for coaching partners and choose the right method: Companies are advised to engage an external partner to coach them through the transition to agile methods – so that they don’t fall victim to their own corporate myopia. The agile development methods chosen also have to be appropriate to the es-tablished, complex structures of the automobile sector. Agile concepts like scrum, LeSS, Kanban and SAFe have to be adapted to the respective compa-ny environment.

3. Let development work run its course Management’s position as role models also means that managers should no longer make short-term interven-tions in development work. Once a sprint begins, they should not approach developers with new requirements and demand that they implement them im-mediately. Otherwise plans cannot be executed properly. However, at its core, agility also means that new ideas are constantly tested in practice and flexibly assessed with regard to their validity. The things that don’t work are rejected.

4. Establish a new meeting culture Agile software development requires new coordination meetings. Past meetings, which were often purely for report-ing, should be cancelled where possible. For improved transparency, all the teams involved should use a shared calendar, which shows their development times.

5. Focus clearly on benefits Agility means full concentration on the business value of a piece of software, meaning its benefits to the user. Those benefits can best be assessed by the specialist departments. That’s why the product owner for a piece of software should come from the specialist department, and not from IT.

6. Integrate IT and specialist departments Ideally the product owner should be supported by a proxy, a kind of representative, from the IT department. That's because it is the only department that knows about IT dependencies. Then both individuals can drive the development of the product together, tak-ing both the specialist and IT perspectives appropriately into account.

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