I am often asked the question: “How can we use Scrum for hardware projects?” The Scrum framework was created out of software projects as a way to improve productivity, deliver higher quality, and reduce time to market. In software, where things can be easily put together, tested, and if needed changed rapidly, everyone understands the benefits of Scrum in delivering rapid product increments every sprint.
But what about hardware projects? It may take months for a new hardware product to go through specs, design, manufacturing, and testing. So, how can we use Scrum in this context?
I believe this is a fair question, and the answer may not be straightforward. In essence, it depends on what you do and how you do it. Scrum is no silver bullet but in its essence it breaks down work in smaller items and allows teams to deliver completed work within a sprint, typically one month or shorter. It creates transparency around the work to be done, accountability at the team level for delivering quality work each sprint, and alignment between the work the team is doing and the expectations of the stakeholders. All these are benefits that any team, software or hardware teams, would gladly achieve. So why not consider implementing Scrum in your (hardware) workplace?
Here are two use cases extracted from the book Scrum for Hardware (with the author’s permission and redistributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license). These two stories exemplify how Scrum can be used for hardware projects, even in high-tech or heavy manufacturing contexts:
The book Scrum for Hardware by Paolo Sammicheli is a great resource for those interested in learning more the subtleties of using Scrum in a hardware or manufacturing domain. Paolo is a recognized author and has been at the forefront of the movement that brought Scrum outside of the software domain. He has worked with dozens of companies worldwide to help them adopt Scrum in hardware projects. In his book, he shares challenges and success stories, and presents a series of real life use cases that are informative and inspirational.