Scaling Agile Development in Mechatronic Organizations -- A Comparative Case Study


Agile software development principles enable companies to successfully and quickly deliver software by meeting their customers’ expectations while focusing on high quality. Many companies working with pure software systems have adopted these principles, but implementing them in companies dealing with non-pure software products is challenging. We identified a set of goals and practices to support large-scale agile development in companies that develop software-intense mechatronic systems. We used an inductive approach based on empirical data collected during a longitudinal study with six companies in the Nordic region. The data collection took place over two years through focus group workshops, individual on-site interviews, and complementary surveys. The primary benefit of large-scale agile development is improved quality, enabled by practices that support regular or continuous integration between teams delivering software, hardware, and mechanics. In this regard, the most beneficial integration cycle for deliveries is every four weeks; while continuous integra- tion on a daily basis would favor software teams, other disciplines does not seem to benefit from faster integration cycles. We identified 108 goals and development practices supporting agile principles among the companies, most of them concerned with integration; therefrom, 26 agile practices are unique to the mechatronics domain to support adopting agile beyond pure software development teams. 16 of these practices are considered as key enablers, confirmed by our control cases.

Proceedings of the 39th IEEE Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE)