Scrum Hardware is the same as Scrum

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Recently another research study, this one from Germany, requested a QnA on how Scrum Hardware is changed from Scrum. As these questions come up regularly from the professional and academic community, I thought I would share:

1.       Is ‘SCRUM by book’ directly applicable to complex mechatronic systems or some adaptations are needed? If needed, then what needs to be adapted?

A) yes, Scrum exactly as stated in the scrum guide applies to the domain you describe. For more information on this you may wish to read the “Scrum Hardware Guide” and “Scrum Hardware” the book (on leanpub) written by my student and colleague Paolo Sammicheli.

2.       What could be the team size of complex projects, which involves development of ?

2) thousands of people work together on many of these projects, arranging themselves in teams of 4.6 people on average per team, and coordinate across teams using two daily meetings: Scrum of Scrums for the Scrum Masters and Meta Scrum for the product owners. For more on this you may wish to read the “Scrum&Scale Guide”.


3.       How teams could be organized in the development of complex mechatronic projects? (There might be hardware development teams, application software teams, purchase, after sales, embedded platform software teams and many more)

A) The fastest companies arrange cross-functional teams around a goal or objective, for example The Boring Companies team is a geologist, civil planner, etc on the same team to go from idea to boring a tunnel in one team, and reducing or eliminating a concept of “phases” and the resulting lag-time of handoffs. Scrum in particular is famously phase-less for this reason.

4.       Which kind of scaling of scrum framework could be used in this case?

A) Scrum@Scale is most commonly used, however I’ve seen Less used by Hardware teams even though the creator of Less states it is only for software teams. We’ve seen many slow companies use a modification of Scrum called the Scaled Agile Franework- however those companies have retained phases and skill based teams, and as a result none of those are using scrum as written in the scrum guide and, interestingly, none of them have doubled revenue or halved time to market, like Tesla, and we wouldn’t recommend the Scaled Agile Framework or even call it Scrum.


5.       How much big should be scaling of SCRUM? (SCRUM of SCRUM , but how big)

A) largest we know is just over 10,000 teams of 4-5 people.


6.       Could you mention any success factor to become agile in hardware development?

A) visible trend to release (provided by scrum masters, using the Delphi estimation method in points), product owners meeting daily to trade backlog and make priority visible, stable teams of multiple disciplines to reduce or eliminate phases/handoffs, co-located teams to achieve swarming.

7.       Do you think that SCRUM in hardware is different than that of SCRUM in software? Why?

A) no.

8.       Could you please recommend me some literature to understand SCRUM in Hardware?

A) yes, please see above. I also recommend Paolo’s video, here:

Maybe it’s helpful to add, Scrum works because of excellent technical practices, most of them codified as XP, to bring test into the sprint for a fast feedback loop, and bring compiling and deploying into the sprint for a fast feedback loop, and even bring the customer into the sprint for an incredibly fast feedback loop. This requires an investment in automation, testing, and skills sharing. Same in hardware. For us to get twice the work in half the time, we invest in a cross functional team that can work across phases, and to that in a reasonable amount of time we need an investment in excellent development tools, test automation in the same room as the development for a fast feedback loop (CFD, FEA, and robotics), and flexible production (see the Tesla Model X assembly plant for a fantastic example of this). #GoTeam -Joe Justice

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