Agile: From Software to Hardware (Part 2)

In our previous post we described our study of about 20 managers mostly from Silicon Valley companies. We wanted to know whether or not Agile software development had delivered on its promise and what insights from Agile, if any, could be applied to other types of programs, such as Hardware or systems.

Agile’s Greatest Impact on Hardware

After asking our respondents about which aspects of Agile were most effective in Software, we then asked them to gauge the potential impact of Agile methods on products/systems. The following frequency plot represents their responses:

Not all respondents had experience with applying Agile outside of software, while others indicated that they had dabbled in this area. However, we again found that frequently cited practices such as more prototype iterations, simulation/emulation, and local build capacity are not unique to Agile/Scrum. When asked about the most important aspects of Agile, our respondents identified techniques that were not specific to Agile – or even to software development.

When asked for their own experienced assessment of which aspects of Agile are best suited for Hardware programs, respondents most frequently cited daily standups, the Agile “attitude,” and burndown charts. Again, with modifications, these aspects of Agile are easily applicable to hardware and other programs.

Note also that in two cases, the aspects of Agile that respondents felt had the most impact on software development – daily standups and burndown charts – they also believed would have the greatest impact on hardware projects.

In the final part of this series we will discuss how to modify aspects of Agile to apply to the different needs of Hardware. We will then summarize the conclusions from our research.