Companies in the manufacturing industry must be ready to quickly respond to changing market and customer requirements. Therefore, they need PLM solutions that support this, for example by making the growing dependencies between software and electronics in connected systems more transparent or ensuring traceability for safety-critical functions. New approaches such as model-based systems engineering (MBSE) or virtual validation of system functionalities by means of co-simulations are needed. The entire PLM architecture must be geared towards change.
IT organizations must also adapt to reduce the time between new requirements and working-functionality implemented in the PLM-Systems. Waterfall or V-model are typically not appropriate to fulfill the dynamics required here. Too much time passes between the definition of requirements and their implementation; time during which the developers do not receive any feedback. They run the risk of developing software that fails to meet the needs of the users. Specifications are often cluttered with requirements and are difficult to change. Then, their implementation is based on the contracts and not on the actual benefits. These and other factors lead to extremely long project runtimes, which can delay the introduction of innovations into productive PLM operations by months and sometimes even years.
A growing number of companies have identified the weaknesses in their existing software development processes and have started introducing agile approaches or are planning to do so. When implementing agile methods, they not only have to decide on a suitable agile model but also find development partners who are able to go along with their agile approach. Furthermore, they have to challenge existing contract models, because in agile approaches, project scope is typically only fuzzily defined at the start of the project.
PROSTEP has been using agile approaches to develop its own software solutions for many years, and as a partner and supplier also brings this experience to bear on customer projects. We are currently involved in agile projects with numerous major customers in the automotive, shipbuilding, and other industries. In many cases, we assume overall responsibility for these projects as general contractor and coordinate subcontractors, be it on site at the customer’s premises or at an offshore partner.
"Our teams combine PLM expertise and hands-on experience with using agile methods. They know the strengths and weaknesses of Scrum, SAFe and other process models from experience gained in the field and can therefore actively help to shape agile transformation at the customer's site and drive it forward," says PLM manager Frank Brandstetter. He is the author of PROSTEP's new white paper, which provides more detailed information about the challenges posed by agile PLM development. (English version available soon.)