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Scrum in hardware / embedded software development

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I had fun today at a hardware Scrum hackathon. Using an Arduino, we developed software and put together hardware simultaneously, in 60 minute mini-sprints.

Now I’m wondering: whose doing Scrum, or something similar, in real life hardware / embedded software development? What are your experiences?

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I know a project manager who does hardware stuff and he tells me it's a different ball game.

Instead of issues being limited to software scope you also get issues from external factors. Imagine something like "Our supplier says we can't get these screws for another three weeks" and the developers have no control over that.

 

You’re right, it’s a completely different ballgame - and supply chains are a big part of it. But there are already some companies who actually are working that way. That’s why I am so curious about it. The hackathon was part of a whole conference dedicated to the topic, with people reporting from practice.

 

Hi Bertil,

In my experience, in software development for small teams, Agile goes well. Teams with more than 7/8 people, it will depend on the soft skills of the same persons. I also feel the technical background of the team elements is a key factor. Because, If the team knows what needs to be done, than the planning will be done properly and at the end of the sprint everyone is happy. Otherwise, frustration might appear.

My colleagues from HW, just stay strict to the Kanban. As they have several external dependencies to do their job, planning is not easy.

 

Scrum seems to work well for hardware projects, particularly during the early stages when we’re still not quite sure yet what the product should be exactly. My previous company did Scrum for hardware projects, but I never personally saw one. My current company just became a sister to a company that does Scrum for hardware too. It worked well enough for them to be noticed and acquired by a larger entity. I got to work with them a bit recently, but we took more of a Kanban/Lean approach. Everything went great really. I mean, everything is a little slower when you have to find, evaluate, purchase, and ship hardware, but that shouldn’t be a surprise when you have to move physical things around instead of just pushing electrons about.

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Bertil Muth profile image
Agile coach and developer

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