Scrum in Hardware Projects

In the first two posts of our scrum blog series you already got an insight into agile product management. This final part is about the application of the Scrum framework in the hardware sector.

The difference: Hardware vs. Software

City car with 1200 cc engine (Honda, 1981)

Imagesource: Wikipedia

Nowadays Scrum is primarily used for the development of software, but the roots of the framework lie in the hardware sector.

Back around ~1980, companies such as Canon and Honda were able to achieve great success by deviating from sequential to an integrated approach in the development of their products.

Check this out: The new product development game

The key principles which lead to the advantages of the framework remain the same – whether in software or hardware context:

  • Progress and obstacles of a project are recorded regularly and are transparent to all.
  • Project results and functionalities are delivered and evaluated regularly.
  • Requirements are not defined once and for all, but are continuously adapted.

To achieve all of that, Scrum structures tasks into smaller, less complex components: Increments.

Here lies the main difference, because for hardware products the duration of a sprint can often not be sufficient to deliver an (possibly releasable) increment. Without these increments no feedback can be received and thus the principle fails. That’s why it’s important to set reasonable sprint goals, e.g. a CAD sketch or a cardboard prototype can be valuable increments.

Great results, demonstrating the effectiveness of Scrum

EDAG has developed an electrical truck together with MAN in the form of the CitE. However, only 18 months were available to turn the idea into a finished exhibition vehicle for the IAA Nutzfahrzeuge 2018.

The agile cooperation between the MAN core team and EDAG, working in a joint project center with sprint lengths of one week. At the end of each sprint we presented our results in the Sprint Review to the stakeholders and customers, resulting in early feedback – which directly influenced the development process. These factors were decisive in the success of the project and made the CitE the highlight of the fair.