“Scaling is Scrum’s biggest challenge – but we’re finding ways.” – Arjan Tuinhout, NXP

“I’m not about to ditch old-fashioned project management,“ assures Arjan Tuinhout, senior project manager at the Smart Antenna Solutions product line for NXP, global champion in semiconductors. “But after Scrumming pulled my team through some nasty timeframes, I’m convinced Agile can add to hardware development, too.”

 

“We build high-frequency integrated circuits for products like mobile phones that involve radio emission and reception – a crucial component, competitive to the point that you innovate or die. For years, our regular development projects involved about 10 engineers, but with increasing product complexity the project team sizes increased as well. The first time I was given the lead in a development project requiring over 30 engineers – given the challenging schedule – I was doubtful on how to get the full team active as quickly as possible. Let’s try Scrumming this, I thought.

 

Pioneering with Scrum at NXP

“This worked very well, so I’m going to be talking about how we’re working Scrum ever further into the development organization of Smart Antenna Solutions. Everybody is raving about Scrum for small teams, but we need large teams with a wide range of competencies and responsibilities. Obviously, scaling becomes the biggest challenge in defining a Scrum-based organization. We developed and are carefully evaluating our own answers to that, both by working on it ourselves and by looking at others. I’d like to share those learnings at Agile for Hardware.”

 

Paradigm shift

“One of the first questions to ask is what is the product. Most Scrum scaling frameworks hold on to the idea that all teams should jointly work on a single product. We learned the hard way in several pilot projects that we needed to leave that rule behind, and today we are implementing the how. We formed our teams along expertise axis, where the expert team deliver their products, sometimes for multiple projects.

 

The organization is running now for a couple of months in this mode and rewards are already substantial, most notably on transparency. But there is also a lot we still have to iron out and I would enjoy input from the community here. How to avoid silo-thinking in such a set-up, for example? And how to tackle the integration of these expert functions? It should make for a fascinating exchange.”


Meet Arjan Tuinhout at Agile for Hardware 2019

The upcoming Gladwell Academy event Agile for Hardware on July 1stand 2nd will feature a strong line-up of pioneering agents in various hardware industries. Early bird tickets are available only until 15 May, so be sure to reserve your seat here if you want to attend!

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