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Competitive advantages through agile methods – the trend in the automotive supply industry

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Increasing numbers of projects, more complex tasks and shorter development times - handle automotive suppliers’ projects on schedule and cost-effectively with agile methods.
How do you stir up a team spirit amongst developers? How can obstacles be eliminated as soon as possible and correctly escalated? When can a project be realistically completed? These are questions for which the agile project management method SCRUM provides answers. SCRUM - a powerful method when used correctly.
Today's product life cycle is shorter than ever before. While the product life cycle of vehicles was still around eight years on average in the 70's, by the 90's it was only three years. Today a car often gets its first facelift after just two to three years.

The challenge for companies in automotive supply industry is therefore to develop and optimize production processes, as well as achieving quality goals – in parallel with the product development - a task that we have implemented with the IMIG in medium-sized automotive supplier companies using the agile method SCRUM, so that milestones are achieved on schedule and cost-effectively.

Three keys to SCRUM's success:

  • Transparency
A lack of transparency in a project is often the basis for wrong decisions. The status of the project is not apparent, decision documents are missing or poorly drafted, and escalations are superficial (often relating to capacity).

Using the Product Backlog and the Impediment List, the agile project management method SCRUM provides an overview of tasks or functions to be created, as well as obstacles that prevent it from working through tasks. A subsequent analysis of the obstacles has shown that in a number of projects the lack of capacity is not the main problem, but rather poor or lacking communication within the project team. SCRUM furthermore uses various artefacts to offer a framework to promote communication and has the potential to double transparency within the project.

  • Adaptability (Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, SCRUM Review)
Due to increasingly complex products in the fields of mechatronics, electronics and software, transparency is not the only element crucial to the success of a project. Through the application of SCRUM in the automotive supply industry, it has also been shown that it is necessary to be able to respond immediately to new information from the development departments, the line organisation or from the customer. In doing so, SCRUM provides appropriate options through additional elements such as Sprint, Sprint Plan and Daily SCRUM.

Sprint is a defined period of 2-4 weeks in which the goals set out in the Sprint Plan should be achieved. In the Sprint Plan, tasks or functions and goals to be developed from the Product Backlog are collectively adopted into the Sprint Backlog through the SCRUM Team - a role in the SCRUM Framework which comprises all necessary sources of knowledge required to successfully develop the project. A daily meeting called Daily SCRUM, lasting about 15 minutes, synchronises the processing status and includes any new obstacles, if applicable. All of the above regular meetings (Daily SCRUMs) are moderated and organised by the SCRUM Master, which is also part of the SCRUM team. As a result, problems find a response more quickly and more efficiently. An essential advantage, with significant effects upon the time, employee satisfaction and costs.


  • Verifiability (Definition of Done, SMART, 3M)
Another problem with project management in a complex environment is that often, none of the project's participants is really aware to what extent a partial goal has already been achieved. This becomes most clearly apparent in software development.

It is therefore immensely important to work out meaningful definitions of the objectives in the Sprint Plan. This facilitates collaboration amongst project employees, creates transparency and simplifies the acceptance of sub-goals. At the same time, the project team notices early whether or not it can achieve the goals. For the project team and the stakeholders, it makes the project verifiable - clear goals lead to clear statements regarding the status. This increases predictability and helps the management to understand at which stage the project finds itself.

Qualification employees

If SCRUM is properly introduced and implemented in the automotive supply industry, a rethinking of the organisation in terms of deadlines and costs takes place. Support for management and staff training is necessary for this. Through basic training for project managers, team members and stakeholders, the benefits of SCRUM are identified and the correct application conveyed. For proper implementation, SCRUM Masters are required in the company, to whom we provide practical training using the IMIG, which includes our SCRUM Master Business Simulation, which is tailored especially for automotive suppliers.

The proper use of SCRUM, therefore, provides the following benefits:

  • Increased adherence to schedules
  • Faster detection of deviations
  • Faster recognition of claim-related topics
  • Rapid introduction of measures and regular sustainability testing
  • Separation of insufficiently clarified and workable content
  • Earlier risk minimization


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