SAFe and automotive SW development

Agile is a buzz word that we get to hear on daily basis, everybody is trying to embrace it. Project teams are really seeing benefits by adapting agile? Is there a reduction in time to market after adapting Agile? Can automotive standards (ISO26262 and ASPICE) can be really incorporated in agile way of SW development?

But OEM’s and suppliers don’t have choice but to accept the agile way of SW development to meet the needs to evolving customer demand. With the increasing demand and new functionalities been added in rapid pace ECU/products are getting very complex.

With the experience being part of SAFe team, I have tried to envision how/when companies can really reap the benefits of implementing SAFe in Automotive SW development.

Not many OEM’s/Supplier have successfully implemented Agile/SAFe for product development in true sense, everyone is trying to implement SW in small developmental increments by modifying the traditional way of SW development. Because it’s very difficult get HW and system engineering teams also to be agile. Agile transformation will a take a longer time, but efforts have been made with small steps.

How is SAFe beneficial in automotive product development? In border sense SAFe is a framework which applies best Agile practices and provides ways/interfaces to link development teams (scrum teams) and management (product management and portfolio management) for achieving business values. Automotive development is usually speared across many teams and regions, SAFe is very applicable in this team setup because it gives significance not just to SW but also to Systems, architecture and Hardware.

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Traditional phase wise method of project execution, fails to catch the flaw at early stage and also there is limited scope to take corrective actions within the phase. There by overshooting schedule and budgets, SAFe or Agile way of project execution provides feedbacks to correct/improve/adapt in early stages.

Although SAFe looks promising, there are limitations to adapt it in automotive ECU/product development.  For example if the systems and architecture team are not ahead of the software team in defining architecture and if the SW has to wait for HW availability for development and testing then even SAFe will not help teams.

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I envision that SAFe will be used in fullest capability, when the automotive SW is delivered over air as updates. It’s not very far when the feature updates and bug fixes to automotive ECU’s will be pushed over air like the way it’s done in Mobile app.

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In the above context, individual sprint teams will be working on features, issues planned to be released in the upcoming increments. Product owners will be busy in getting new requirements, field issues and prioritizing the same for next PI’s.

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Categories: Management

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