A Case Study on Implementing Agile Techniques and Practices: Rationale, Benefits, Barriers and Business Implications for Hardware Development
- underestimating the product development;
- underestimating the complexity of scaling to mass manufacturing;
- poor quality testing;
- product overcomplexity;
- overpromising to customers.
2. Research Background and Related Work
2.1. Theoretical Background
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
- Working software over comprehensive documentation;
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation;
- Responding to change over following a plan.
- Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through the early and continuous delivery of valuable software;
- Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage;
- Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference for the shorter timescale;
- Businesspeople and developers must work together daily throughout the project;
- Build projects around motivated individuals. Provide them with the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job accomplished.
- The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation;
- Working software is the primary measure of progress;
- Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely;
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility;
- Simplicity, the art of maximizing the amount of incomplete work, is essential.
- The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams;
- At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
- Daily standups (87%), a team update meeting held each day , where everyone involved is asked to report on what has been completed, and commit the future work to do; moreover, the occurred impediments (blocking factors) are discussed; typically, in Scrum, the daily standup is a 15-min time-boxed event ;
- Retrospectives (83%), a meeting that is held at the end of an iteration , with the aim of self-reflecting on what went well and what could be improved for the next iteration;
- Kanban boards (77%), a visual-organization tool that tracks the workflow by depicting work items as cards at various stages of a development process, represented by labeled columns; in the simplest form, the board columns fall into three buckets: at the starts of the board is the “To Do” (or “Ready”) column which contains all the cards that are next up, the “Doing” (or “In Progress”) column include all the cards that are currently being worked on, and “Done” contains all cards that have been finished ;
- Task boards (67%), in Scrum, a task board is a visual display of the progress of the Scrum team during a sprint ; typically, a board is divided into four columns, namely: starting from the left, “Stories”, contains a list of all the user stories in the current sprint backlog, “To Do”, contains subtasks of the stories that work has not started on, “In progress” depicts all the tasks on that work has already begun, and “Done”, presents all the tasks that have been completed ;
- Spreadsheets (66%), stands for a computer application used to create and manipulate spreadsheets, electronic documents in which data is arranged in tabular form and can be manipulated and used in calculations, along with formulas that relate the data. Currently, there is a plethora of spreadsheet applications on the software market, including both commercial and non-commercial, available for both desktop computers and mobile devices.
2.2. Agile-Oriented Frameworks for Hardware Development
- Organize Around Value;
- Assume Variability and Preserve Options;
- Build Incrementally, Integrate Frequently;
- Design for Change;
- Perform Work in Small Batches;
- Build Continuous Integration for Hardware Development.
- Uncertainty in Hardware Projects;
- Stubs and Mock-Ups;
- Continuously Integrate;
- Interface Design;
- Test and Data-Driven Development;
- Working Product at the End of Each Sprint.
- a series of stages, where the project team undertakes the work, obtains the needed information, and does the subsequent data integration and analysis, followed by;
- gates, where go/kill decisions are made to continue to invest in the project” .
- allow for flexibility to change, but also freeze designs;
- build quality plans and manage supply chains;
- define electrical and mechanical product attributes;
- develop documentation;
- develop flexible prototyping and validation product strategies;
- share resources and external partners.
- Short development cycles to drive learning and adapting to change;
- Accountable, autonomous, and focused teams;
- Validating work at the end of each development cycle;
- Applying intelligent, rapid prototyping strategies.
2.3. Related Work
- constraints of physicality, the authors claim that “the greatest hindrance is to realize potentially shippable increments in one iteration”, and as a consequence “the technical feasibility to produce prototypes” is hardly achievable in certain industrial branches, due to “the inability to break down the product into modules” ;
- agile mindset, an individual attitude toward understanding, collaborating, learning, adapting and growing in the spirit of trust, responsibility and ownership, is pointed out as a major challenge for not only individuals, but also for the company;
- team distribution, the inability to work co-located resulted in a higher degree of communication needs between physically dispersed project participants (teams);
- scaling, the ability to apply the principles, practices and outcomes in other projects (horizontal scaling), or at other levels of the organization (vertical scaling), in order to change the way people approach their own work and working with others.
3. Research Design
3.1. Case Setting
3.2. Project Settings
3.3. Project Context and Organization
3.4. Research Methods
- Which data are analyzed? Due to the project complexity, considering the number of planned tasks, time frames and the total number of hardware and software deliverables, the further investigation was strictly oriented toward issues and concerns related to the project management. More specifically, the focus was on the identification, analysis and evaluation of only those processes that regarded planning, organizing, leading and controlling the efforts of the project members, engaged on the side of both the leader and the partner.
- How are they defined? The data throughout the project was collected in a few digital repositories, including the data gathered by the online tools throughout the project duration, as well as the documents library available in the cloud storage.
- What is the population from which they are drawn? The population is limited to one project, in particular two data repositories owned by the leader and the partner.
- What is the context relative to which the data are analyzed? The context is specified by the goal of the study, which precisely indicates the scope and objectives for the researcher to follow. In particular, the data (information) must concern the implementation of agile practices throughout the project. In other words, a precedent or unrepeatable application of any agile practice was not considered for further investigation due to the limited analysis and evaluation.
- What are the boundaries of the analysis? Obviously, when the study concerns a single case, the results are not meant to be generalized. Therefore, it is correct to name generalizability as a limitation of the current, and any other, qualitative research.
- Plan. The identified stakeholders involved two representatives, one from the leader, and one from the partner. To reduce the bias resulting from insufficient experience and knowledge, the inclusion criteria were as follows:
- at least five years of professional experience;
- involvement in the project throughout its duration;
- managerial role in the project.
- Develop instruments. The interview protocol and the questionnaire were designed around the three constructs of interest for this research, namely: (1) the rationale behind adopting the agile approach for the project, (2) the practices and tools applied, and finally (3) the performance evaluation. Appendix A shows the details regarding both data collection instruments;
- Collect data. The phone interviews took place in the period from April to May 2022. Alongside safety and health issues due to the outbreak of COVID-19, this approach is now becoming widely used . The data collection follow-up concerned an email request for each of the respondents to independently fill in the questionnaire;
- Analyze data. To “make sense” of the collected data, a thematic analysis was conducted on the information gathered via the interview, while the survey data were compared and summarized by using the Google Sheets application;
- Disseminate findings. The target audience does not only involve the project stakeholders, but also both computer science researchers and industry practitioners. To reach such a broad audience, our intention is to publish our work in open access mode, which means that our paper will be free of charge, digital and online, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. In addition, the paper preprint will also be posted in an electronic format and made available to the public on at least one preprint service.
- accelerate software delivery;
- improve business and IT alignment;
- reduce project risk.
- the ability to manage changing priorities;
- software quality;
- improve engineering discipline.
- release planning;
- short iterations;
- sprint/iteration planning.
- task board;
- automated build tool;
- unit test tool.
- bug tracking;
- continuous integration tool;
- release/ deployment automation tool;
- managing changing priorities;
- risk reduction;
- delivery speed/time to market;
- engineering discipline;
- software quality;
- team morale;
- team productivity.
- fragmented tooling and project-related data/measurements;
- general organization resistance to change;
- pervasiveness of traditional development methods;
- unwilling to admit mistakes and learn from delivery failure;
- increased efficiency by highlighting the goals or deadline for release;
- making high-quality plans;
- increased visualization potential of release planning problems.
- eliminating waste in the Planning Process;
- setting clear expectations about the objectives and product features;
- helping team members stay on track and complete their tasks on time;
- increased flexibility and decreased development lead time;
- supporting the identification and mitigation of potential issues and risks.
- provide more-frequent feedback from customers than long iterations;
- afford the team more opportunities to reflect on and improve their work practices;
- deliver a rapid response to changes in priority without disrupting work in process;
- foster scope management since it is easier to move the small backlog items around than the large ones;
- eliminate internal process overheads by running short iterations since user stories are small units of work and the team can follow the iteration status in a simpler way;
- support product adaptability since it is easy to introduce new features, change existing features, and make any other functional change;
- support the team’s ability to work on several features in parallel.
- helps teams to control projects;
- effective management of the product backlog;
- provides an opportunity for team members to participate in planning and hence better understand the work assignments;
- provides opportunities to build team cohesion and identification;
- helps in understanding the user stories;
- serves to validate something we do not understand, or something misinterpreted,
- enables setting precise estimates for the task;
- fosters knowledge-sharing and skill-improvement.
- ensures efficient diffusion of information relevant to the whole team;
- enables the team to stay focused on the work progress;
- allows the team to represent any relevant information.
- saving time and money;
- by keeping a history of builds and releases, it helps in investigating bugs and errors;
- an increase in developers’ productivity since build automation ensures fast feedback;
- acceleration of the product delivery by eliminating redundant tasks.
- early detection of specification deficiencies;
- cost reduction;
- easier source code refactoring.
- achieving an effective risk mitigation strategy;
- greater adaptability and innovation capacity;
- effective communication and collaboration.
- resistance to change;
- a lack of or inadequate management support;
- poor communication and collaboration.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
Appendix A. The Questionnaire
|O1||Accelerate software delivery|
|O2||Better manage distributed teams|
|O3||Better respond to volatile market conditions|
|O4||Enhance ability to manage changing priorities|
|O5||Enhance delivery predictability|
|O6||Enhance software quality|
|O7||Improve business and IT alignment|
|O8||Improve engineering discipline|
|O9||Improve project visibility|
|O10||Improve team morale|
|O11||Increase software maintainability|
|O12||Increase team productivity|
|O13||Reduce project cost|
|O14||Reduce project risk|
|O15||Other? Please specify:|
|1 The answers for the items (excluding O15) were predefined with the following list of five items: (1) Definitely Not, (2) Probably Not, (3) Possibly, (4) Probably Yes, (5) Definitely Yes.|
- I don’t know.
|TP1||Agile Portfolio planning|
|TP3||Common work area|
|TP5||Dedicated customer/product owner|
|TP8||Planning Poker/Team Estimation|
|TP17||Other? Please specify:|
|2 The answers for the items (excluding TP17) were predefined with the following list of five items: (1) Definitely Not, (2) Probably Not, (3) Possibly, (4) Probably Yes, (5) Definitely Yes.|
|PD1||Agile Project Management Tool|
|PD2||Automated Acceptance Test Tool|
|PD3||Automated Build Tool|
|PD5||Continuous Integration Tool|
|PD6||Customer Idea Management Tool|
|PD9||Product and Portfolio Management (PPM) Tool|
|PD12||Release/Deployment Automation Tool|
|PD13||Requirements Management Tool|
|PD16||Story Mapping Tool|
|PD19||Traditional Product Management Tool|
|PD20||Unit Test Tool|
|PD23||Other? Please specify:|
|3 The answers for the items (excluding PD23) were predefined with a list of two items: (1) No, and (2) Yes.|
|PT2||Atlassian Jira Align|
|PT5||Azure DevOps Server (Microsoft TFS)|
|PT6||Broadcom Rally (CA Agile Central)|
|PT8||Digital.ai Agility (formerly VersionOne)|
|PT9||Digital.ai TeamForge (CollabNet TeamForge)|
|PT12||HP Agile Manager|
|PT13||HP Quality Center/ALM|
|PT14||IBM Rational Team Concert|
|PT15||In-house / self-made solution|
|PT22||Other? Please specify:|
|4 The answers for the items (excluding PT22) were predefined with a list of two items:(1) No, and (2) Yes.|
|IP3||Delivery speed/time to market|
|IP5||Managing changing priorities|
|IP6||Managing distributed teams|
|IP14||Other? Please specify:|
|5 The answers for the items (excluding IP14) were predefined with the following list of five items: (1) Strongly disagree, (2) Disagree, (3) Neither agree nor disagree, (4) Agree, and (5) Strongly agree.|
|ME1||Budget vs. actual cost|
|ME3||Business value delivered|
|ME4||Cumulative flow chart|
|ME9||Defects into production|
|ME10||Defects over time|
|ME13||Individual hours per iteration/week|
|ME15||Planned vs. actual release dates|
|ME16||Planned vs. actual stories per iteration|
|ME19||Revenue sales impact|
|ME20||Scope change in a release|
|ME22||Test pass/fail over time|
|ME24||WIP, Work in Progress|
|ME25||Other? Please specify:|
|6 The answers for the items (excluding ME25) were predefined with a list of two items:(1) No, and (2) Yes.|
|BA1||Fragmented tooling and project-related data/measurements|
|BA2||General organization resistance to change|
|BA3||Inadequate management support and sponsorship|
|BA4||Inconsistent processes and practices across teams|
|BA5||Insufficient training and education|
|BA6||Lack of business/customer/product understanding|
|BA7||Lack of skills/experience with agile methods|
|BA8||Minimal collaboration and knowledge pairing|
|BA9||Not enough leadership participation|
|BA10||Organizational culture at odds with agile values|
|BA11||Pervasiveness of traditional development methods|
|BA12||Regulatory compliance or government issue|
|BA13||Unwilling to admit mistakes and learn from delivery failure|
|BA14||I don’t know|
|BA15||Other? Please specify:|
|7 The answers for the items (excluding BA15) were predefined with the following list of five items: (1) Strongly disagree, (2) Disagree, (3) Neither agree nor disagree, (4) Agree, and (5) Strongly agree.|
|B1-TP10||Eliminating Waste in the Planning Process|
|B2-TP10||Increased Flexibility and Decreased Development Lead Time|
|B3-TP10||Increased Motivation of the Developers|
|B4-TP10||Mediation of multiple opinions|
|B5-TP10||Increased efficiency by highlighting the goals or deadline for release|
|B6-TP10||Making high-quality plans|
|B7-TP10||Increased visualization potential of release planning problems|
|B8-TP10||Setting clear expectations about the objectives and product features|
|B9-TP10||Early identification of feature dependencies|
|B10-TP10||Helping team members stay on track and complete their tasks on time|
|B11-TP10||Supporting the identification and mitigation of potential issues and risks|
|B12-TP10||Other? Please specify: …|
|8 The answers for the items (excluding B12) were predefined with the following list of five items: (1) Definitely Not, (2) Probably Not, (3) Possibly, (4) Probably Yes, (5) Definitely Yes.|
|B1-TP12||Provide more-frequent feedback from customers than long iterations|
|B2-TP12||Afford the team more opportunities to reflect on and improve their work practices|
|B3-TP12||Deliver a rapid response to changes in priority without disrupting work in process|
|B4-TP12||Enable early problem detection since agile teams recognize process smells and act on them immediately|
|B5-TP12||Foster scope management since it is easier to move the small backlog items around than the large ones|
|B6-TP12||Eliminate internal process overheads by running short iterations since user stories are small units of work and the team can follow the iteration status in a simpler way.|
|B7-TP12||The shorter the iteration, the less process overhead is needed to keep things on course.|
|B8-TP12||Support product adaptability since it is easy to introduce new features, change existing features, and make any other functional change|
|B9-TP12||Support the team’s ability to work on several features in parallel|
|B10-TP12||Other? Please specify: …|
|9 The answers for the items (excluding B10) were predefined with the following list of five items: (1) Definitely Not, (2) Probably Not, (3) Possibly, (4) Probably Yes, (5) Definitely Yes.|
|B1-TP14||Helps teams control projects|
|B2-TP14||Effective management of the product backlog|
|B3-TP14||Positively influences product quality|
|B4-TP14||Provides an opportunity for team members to participate in planning and hence better understand the work assignments|
|B5-TP14||Provides opportunities to build team cohesion and identification|
|B6-TP14||Helps in understanding the user stories|
|B7-TP14||Serves to validate something we do not understand, or something misinterpreted|
|B8-TP14||Planning meetings help to define the goals for each team member|
|B9-TP14||Enables setting precise estimates for the task|
|B10-TP14||Fosters knowledge-sharing and skill-improvement|
|B11-TP14||Other? Please specify: …|
|10 The answers for the items (excluding B11) were predefined with the following list of five items: (1) Definitely Not, (2) Probably Not, (3) Possibly, (4) Probably Yes, (5) Definitely Yes.|
|B1-PD17||Ensures efficient diffusion of information relevant to the whole team|
|B2-PD17||Enables the team to stay focused on the work progress|
|B3-PD17||Allows the team to represent any relevant information|
|B4-PD17||Other? Please specify: …|
|11 The answers for the items (excluding B4) were predefined with the following list of five items: (1) Definitely Not, (2) Probably Not, (3) Possibly, (4) Probably Yes, (5) Definitely Yes.|
|B1-PD3||Saving time and money|
|B2-PD3||By keeping a history of builds and releases, it helps in investigating bugs and errors|
|B3-PD3||Increases developers’ productivity since build automation ensures fast feedback|
|B4-PD3||Accelerates product delivery by eliminating redundant tasks|
|B5-PD3||Improves product quality by supporting bug and error detection|
|B6-PD3||Other? Please specify: …|
|12 The answers for the items (excluding B6) were predefined with the following list of five items: (1) Definitely Not, (2) Probably Not, (3) Possibly, (4) Probably Yes, (5) Definitely Yes.|
|B1-PD20||Early detection of the specification deficiencies|
|B2-PD20||Fostering higher quality of individual components, and thus increase overall system resiliency|
|B3-PD20||Increases testers’ productivity|
|B5-PD20||Easier refactoring the source code|
|B6-PD20||Other? Please specify: …|
|13 The answers for the items (excluding B6) were predefined with the following list of five items: (1) Definitely Not, (2) Probably Not, (3) Possibly, (4) Probably Yes, (5) Definitely Yes.|
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Weichbroth, P. A Case Study on Implementing Agile Techniques and Practices: Rationale, Benefits, Barriers and Business Implications for Hardware Development. Appl. Sci. 2022, 12, 8457. https://doi.org/10.3390/app12178457
Weichbroth P. A Case Study on Implementing Agile Techniques and Practices: Rationale, Benefits, Barriers and Business Implications for Hardware Development. Applied Sciences. 2022; 12(17):8457. https://doi.org/10.3390/app12178457Chicago/Turabian Style
Weichbroth, Paweł. 2022. "A Case Study on Implementing Agile Techniques and Practices: Rationale, Benefits, Barriers and Business Implications for Hardware Development" Applied Sciences 12, no. 17: 8457. https://doi.org/10.3390/app12178457