Agile Methods in the Design and Development of Modular Vehicle Systems : A case study on a global transport solutions provider

University essay from KTH/Industriell Management; KTH/Industriell Management

Abstract: In today’s globally competitive business environment, efficient product development processes are critical for companies to meet rapidly changing customer demands and preferences. Therefore, companies have looked beyond traditional linear product development processes leading to the development of new iterative processes. The new iterative and agile supporting processes have had strong success for software companies. However, how to leverage these new processes in modular hardware solutions remains unclear. This thesis analyzes the challenges of utilizing and leveraging Agile Development (AD) while maintaining a modular product strategy. This study aims to increase the understanding of how to achieve a successful coexistence between AD and modularization and thereby allowing to work increasingly agile in modular settings to decrease costs and lead times. To study this, a case study on a has been performed on a large Swedish manufacturer of modular vehicle systems. To accompany this, an abductive research approach with qualitative methods has been used, where the results are based on interviews and internal documents. The results together with the literature enable a discussion on how AD and modularization can coexist. The results can be summarized accordingly: • AD and modularization can coexist given that AD is a philosophy and mindset and modularization is product strategy; • the agile mindset and freedom have to be limited to the existing boundaries and principles set by the overall firm modular strategy; and • the ability to work agile in modular settings is disrupted when the agile team requires external involvement of additional individuals. The thesis concludes that the ability to effectively leverage AD in a modular setting depends on two aspects. First, the size and complexity of the project. Second, the product architectural knowledge within the agile team.

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