Employee Competency 26262
Employee competence according to ISO 26262
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How do Agile and SPICE mix? Part 2

Do Agile and SPICE mix

Redaktion: Achim Gerber, Rüdiger Bayer, Gerald Harris 

Are Agile and SPICE like oil and water, do they separate after being mixed? The answer is not that simple.

Vehicle components have a completely different life cycle than business software. Nevertheless, the Agile principles, as defined by the Agile Alliance, can be implemented very well in Automotive SPICE®.

This article is the continuation of the article How do Agile and SPICE mix?

In this article we are talking about the principles 3 and 4 of the Agile Alliance:

Agile Prinzipien

Principle 3: We deliver regularly usable and enhanced system features, preferring shorter time periods within a few weeks or months.

Looking at the Automotive SPICE Process Reference Model, we first see a classic V-Model.

Software Engineering Process Group

Figure 1 Section of the V-Model according to Automotive SPICE PAM 3.1

In practice, however, no process of the V-Model is ever fully completed before starting the next process. Instead, release planning is carried out first. As part of the release planning the milestones are defined along with the features contained in each milestone and their level of maturity. Within the sample phases, the functionalities to be implemented are again divided into smaller packages, which then successively run through the V.

Software Deliveries in Increments

The V is therefore not to be seen as a time sequence for the entire system, but as a logical sequence of work steps, the results of which are passed on from one step to the next. Such a sequence, defining the requirements, designing a model, implementing the functionality and verification, can also be found in the agile environment.

Those who complain that the doctrine of test-driven development would require the test to be written before writing the implementation must still concede, that test execution will require that the implementation be available. The position of the verification processes in the V-Model thus stands for test execution and proof of verification, while an early definition of the tests is indeed in the spirit of ASPICE.

It is common practice to require that a test be at least roughly formulated before a requirement is released. Such test formulations are described as verification or acceptance criteria. This indicates that ASPICE places a high value on early consideration of verification.

The size of the packages that go through the V varies strongly by project and company. Automotive SPICE does not care how large or small the packages are. If the packages are broken down to a few weeks, the resulting granularity can be compared to sprints in the agile environment.

Principle 4: Experts from all domains should collaborate intensively during product development.

The demand for collaboration between experts, both between customer and supplier as well as between all involved parties, is essential in the automotive sector, as it is in all other industries. However, the ease of collaboration has less to do with the process model than with a corporate culture. Cooperation in all phases helps to identify ambiguities more quickly, to gain new insights and to achieve better results together.

Common practice in the automotive industry is to expect delivery of predefined features at an agreed upon time for a fixed price. This raises the question of financial responsibility when new findings result in changes to the original planning. The Change Request Management process (SUP.10) explicitly addresses the evaluation, analysis, and approval of such adjustments. In an agile environment, the activities of this process should become an intrinsic part of development. Agile projects in the automotive environment therefore provide for a budget for changes, so that at least the approval process becomes easier.

Is Agile and SPICE like oil and water?

The Agile Principles can be implemented very well in Automotive SPICE®. It is more probable that the traditional corporate culture stands in the way of bringing Agile and SPICE together.

Agile SPICE® is designed as a bridge by the intacs working group of the same name. Terminology is clarified and Base Practices of the individual processes are interpreted in an agile way. The first preview version of Agile SPICE® has been released for piloting.

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