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How do Agile and SPICE mix?

Do Agile and SPICE mix

Editors: Achim Gerber, Rüdiger Bayer, Gerald Harris
Are Agile and SPICE like oil and water? Water and oil separate again after mixing. The answer for Agile and SPICE is not that straightforward.

The pure form of Agile development is often found in dynamically growing software projects. A bank’s Internet platform is constantly changing. At the first launch, it is not yet clear how the platform will develop. Features are added or dropped. Product cycles are often short.

Vehicle components have a completely different life cycle. As development progresses, the changes generally become fewer. They seem to be two different worlds.

Automotive SPICE® is not limited to one development method. Most projects in the automotive industry will be found in the continuum between the classic waterfall model and the pure application of Agile methods or frameworks.

The Agile principles as defined by the Agile Alliance can actually be implemented very well within the framework offered by Automotive SPICE®.

In this article, we will highlight the first two principles of Agile Alliance:

Agile principles

1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

In Agile development, it is the task of the product owner to group and order the requirements in a backlog so that they can be broken down into coherent deliveries.

The art here is to break down the tasks far enough that the development team can take them up and refine them, schedule them into the iteration cycle and bring the delivery to maturity.

Pure software deliveries are easier to manage than complex mechatronic systems. Prototypes in mechatronic systems are very expensive. Frequent deliveries quickly become uneconomical. Here the industry has found solutions. Hardware In the Loop (HIL) and Software In the Loop (SIL) ease development increments in smaller cycles, which make it possible to test the features in the delivery. Not every delivery will be installed in a vehicle, but it will certainly be tested in the simulation.

Automotive SPICE and Agility

Knüvener Mackert ASPICE Guide – Automotive SPICE and agility

The diagram from our ASPICE Guide shows how such backlogs can be structured. It illustrates that the sequence of system and domain processes in the V model is not done in a single iteration, but for each feature increment (open point). The project management takes care of the processing of the various backlogs. Verified Open Points shown in the diagram on the right correspond here to incremental deliveries.

2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

Many project managers of successful ASPICE projects throw their hands up in horror. Imagine a change request shortly before SOP, which is still to be fully verified in the final release. But if the customer wants it and pays for it…

In the Agile world, it is not clear at the start of the project which requirements will be implemented. Figuratively speaking, a sailboat can become a container ship after many iterations. This means that it is consciously accepted that earlier development steps are discarded.

Why not build the container ship right away?

On the way important experiences are collected, which were already tested in incremental deliveries (e.g. A-Sample, B-Sample, …). Interfaces to other systems can change during the course of the project or competition forces adaptation. It’s therefore a matter of being close to the customer and flexible with important trends.

In the diagram above, the backlog on the left says “Approved Stakeholder Change Request”. The second Agile principle is part of SUP.10, the Change Request Management process. The impact of each Change Request must be analyzed and the effort estimated. The implementation must be realistically planned and change in costs approved. In the Agile environment SUP.10 must be implemented so that the processes are not cumbersome. The integration of SUP.10 Change Request Management with MAN.3 Project Management is crucial.

The stakeholder becomes part of the development process through the role of the product owner.

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 BPs of the individual processes are interpreted in an agile way. The first preview version of Agile SPICE® has already been released for piloting.


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