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Hardware-Software Collaboration in Agile Organizations

Nancy Van Schooenderwoert    
Lean-Agile Partners Inc. - USA

Presentation abstract

After experiencing success with Agile methods in software, companies are increasingly asking whether they can use some form of Agile collaboration for products involving both hardware and software.   Three roadblocks come up immediately:

•    Hardware generally has much longer cycle times
•    Hardware teams have deeper specializations, limiting the amount of task sharing
•    Rework (refactoring) for hardware is far more expensive than in software

Agile seeks to cross-skill everyone, but that can only go so far.  An electronics designer isn’t going to just “pick up” the skills of a materials scientist. If we use separate engineering teams, we add complexity to our communications patterns.  Still for this issue as well as cycle time and rework, real teams have found ways to get the benefits of Agile practices, and even some further benefits they didn’t expect!

Nancy will show examples of varying degrees of collaboration between software and other disciplines (electronics, mechanical, operations, mathematicians…) from industry, and from her own experience as an electronics designer and software engineer.  Her recommendations are based on both Agile and Lean concepts, and on 15 years’ experience as an independent Agile coach.

Speakers information

Nancy is among the first to apply Agile methods to embedded systems development, as an engineer, manager, and consultant.  She has led Agile change initiatives for s/w and h/w in safety-critical, highly regulated industries, and teaches modern Agile approaches like Mob Programming, Agile Hardware, and Lean development methods in addition to Scrum.

Nancy led her embedded systems software team to 3x productivity of comparable non-Agile teams, while producing fewer than 2 defects per month on average.

In leading the “Agile for Executives” event series for Agile New England, she is taking Agile principles far beyond the tech side by helping execs build a peer-to-peer learning network, and move from ideas to action.

Nancy's experience spans embedded software and hardware development for aerospace, factory automation, medical devices, defense systems, and financial services. Her coaching practice spans delivery teams to middle and upper managers. She is a regular presenter at Agile-related conferences worldwide. 

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