Table of contents:
- Picture gallery
- Accelerate development with the waterfall process
- The big picture at a glance
- The challenge of individualization
- Faster development - without sacrificing quality
- Seize the opportunities
Video: Achieve The Optimum Faster With Agile Methods
The picture is the same in many sectors: markets that are supposedly distributed over the long term are suddenly being re-mixed, technological advances are changing the situation, and in some cases new competitors are entering the markets. The result: The world is turning faster, the market pressure, especially with regard to a shorter time-to-market, is growing. "In this context, agile methods are ideally suited to realigning and accelerating rather cumbersome development processes to the user," emphasizes Dr. Karsten Strehl, Central Development Methodology, Robert Bosch GmbH, Stuttgart.
Picture gallery with 7 pictures
An example of this development is Festo, a world-renowned supplier of components in the field of pneumatic and electric drives. Today, hardware and software form a fixed unit in order to meet future requirements, especially in terms of Industry 4.0. "That is why we need integrated development for software, mechanics and electronics - not only the software development process alone can be agile," says Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Frank-Michael Hoyer, team and project manager, House of Software, Festo AG & Co. KG, Esslingen.
Accelerate development with the waterfall process
The company has therefore designed the new product creation process as a waterfall process - with a clearly defined goal: the previous period of product development is to be reduced from an average of three years to just one year. At the same time, new development methods such as rapid prototyping are increasingly being used, as is 3D printing for metal and plastic alike, in order to make cost blocks in product development and tool making more efficient and cost-effective. “This enables us to get prototypes faster and more successfully. At the same time, we are increasingly relying on simulations before we go into mechanics,”continues Hoyer. With these tools it is now possible to develop hardware agile.
Additional information on the VDI conference on agility in development
The VDI conference "Agile Methods in Physical Product Development" under the direction of Prof. Dr. offers intensive insights into this topic. Comus. The conference will take place on May 10 and 11, 2017 at the Maritim Hotel Düsseldorf - detailed information can be found at www.agileing.de.
The big picture at a glance
The Swabian Heermann Maschinenbau GmbH has had similar experiences. "However, it is not enough to use just one or the other method," emphasizes Marco Niebling, who is responsible for agile project management at the company: "The big picture is decisive: What do you want to change? What goals do you want to achieve? How do you create a framework that suits the company and in which the employees can develop reliably? Only when these and other questions have been answered can a company put together the individually fitting, agile modular system."
The challenge of individualization
One of the mechanical engineering company's challenges, for example, is to be able to individualize products even more strongly, and to be able to meet requirements more flexibly and quickly. At the same time, the agile company is following the path of specialization and concentration on fewer, but particularly promising product areas. Successes are already clearly recognizable for medium-sized companies: in the form of an incomparably higher demand from applicants, an improved working atmosphere and higher employee satisfaction. The improvements can, however, also be read from specific indicators: the increased profitability is just as much a part of this as the significantly improved delivery reliability with less use of funds.
Faster development - without sacrificing quality
With a prejudice, Dr. Clean up Strehl. Agility is often equated with "chaos" - a serious mistake in thinking. Quality standards as they are today do not lose their relevance even with agile methods. On the contrary: The quality of the collaboration in agile teams is in turn crucial for the quality of the future product.
Also with the current, now third international study on the subject, which Prof. Dr. Ayelt Komus, professor of organization and business informatics, Koblenz University of Applied Sciences, is responsible for this topic, confirms: Results in companies that use agile methods are better - in product development as well as in other areas. It's not just about a fast time-to-market. 61% of the companies surveyed expect the product launch time to be optimized using agile methods - but expectations are also high in other areas: Many companies use agile methods to optimize quality (47% - multiple answers were possible) or to avoid risks in the project to reduce (42%).
Seize the opportunities
"Everything in industry is digitizing. This is another reason why agility is increasingly becoming a defining factor, regardless of whether in the automotive industry or in mechanical engineering etc.”, says Prof. Komus. At the same time, one thing is certain for him: Agile methods have come to stay, the clock can no longer be turned back. It is important for companies to tackle this change process.
Many techniques can be viewed and used in isolation, from daily scrum to relative estimations to regular retrospectives, there are many techniques that - if desired - also support classic "waterfall" project management. The professor's conclusion is clear: “We have numerous elements available today that can be combined excellently with a classic approach in product development and project management. It is highly recommended for companies to take the opportunity and go forward.”(Mz)
PTC introduces agile software solution for product teams
* Oliver Schönfeld is a freelance journalist in Nottuln.
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