Introduction of agile methods for software development at Heusch/Boesefeldt


Scrum is a framework for the development and maintenance of complex software products, which was designed on the basis of lean production. Agile projects should be carried out with few, simple rules and without red tape. The idea behind "agile" is to develop a product in small steps with a self-directed team in such a way that it offers optimal benefits for the user within the set framework.
This is achieved, among other things, by the following basic specifications in Scrum:

  • Requirements for the product are defined as so-called user stories formulated completely from the point of view of the future user and leave the "how" of the implementation to the development team.
  • The realization itself takes place in short cycles, the sprints, after which a potentially usable increment of the product must always be at hand.
  • The product owner in Scrum, together with all relevant persons (users and decision-makers), evaluates the result of a sprint, where the focus is always on usability and value for the user.

If you are interested in a detailed description of Scrum, here you can see how this method is used as part of an agile project management in software development.

Why we chose to implement agile SW development

Software development without agile techniques is generally considered outdated today. Our corporate culture is very close to our agile values. In addition to the long-established use of various process models, such as V-Modell XT, we have supported the processes in our integration department with the use of Kanban and Kanboard. Kanban has led to a gentle change in the department and provides optimum support for existing processes in handling many smaller tasks. The main advantages are transparency, better division of labour, and the identification and avoidance of bottlenecks.
The introduction of Scrum has several advantages for us and our customers in particular. The team of the first agile project implementation formulated the advantages as follows:

  • through a set of few, easy to understand rules Scrum can easily be implemented at short notice
  • only what is really needed is developed
  • incorrect developments are detected at an early stage, as a usable increment is created per sprint
  • confidence in the team through transparency and communication
  • high quality through test and documentation of each sprint (development period of approx. 2 to 4 weeks).

For external projects there are also the following aspects:

  • targeted, beneficial use of the existing budget through continuous interaction with the customer
  • efficient collaboration with the customer through short communication channels
  • transparency concerning development progress and effort.

Application of Scrum
In our company, we use Scrum for internal developments in the realization of development tools and the further development of our products. To this end, Scrum was introduced as part of a comprehensive introduction phase with appropriate training and instruction measures. For the most important role of the Scrum Master, who checks and assures the adherence to the methods, additional certifications of the Scrum. org were carried out (Professional Scrum Master Level I).

For ASFINAG's Traffic Management and Information System, Heusch/Boesefeldt has created a new operating component for managing and activating detour recommendations. Although the project was not strictly implemented according to Scrum, short development cycles were already used in constant interaction with the customer. The result was a product with high utility value for the user, which exactly matches the user's requirements from everyday work.

We have worked on tried-and-tested ideas and suggestions for improvement and will continue to develop and apply the agile processes on an ongoing basis.

We are particularly pleased that our customers are now increasingly striving for the use of agile methods and are demanding these in tenders.