Everyone wants to be agile nowadays. We’ve moved past “synergy” into a new arena of work terms like “Scrum,” “Kanban,” “Gantt” and more.

However, being “agile” is a worthy goal for businesses looking to keep up with competitors and continue growth. After all, we’ve had years of behemoths at the top of the stock market touting their agile methodologies. 

The caveat? It’s a tall task to transform foundational workflows and traditional processes. In other words, change has to happen – and change can be a scary word for teams and their leaders.

But between supply chain constraints and economic uncertainty, preparing and welcoming change is wholly necessary, especially for hardware development teams that have been lagging behind other industries in the shift to agile. 

What is Agile Hardware Development?

During Onshape Live ’22, PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann defined agile as project execution and management methodology. It is an alternative to the traditional waterfall or phase-gate approaches.

In hardware development, agile is highly iterative, collaborative, exploratory, and non-deterministic.

Agility in 3 Simple Steps

I almost got you there! As with all workflows and processes, transformation isn’t simple or easy. But there are three key practices you can implement that could make the shift painless.

Frictionless Workflows Save Time

The first practice is to identify bottlenecks and slowdowns in your current development processes. For instance, engineers and designers traditionally work through a design process step-by-step, in sequential order. Work is siloed until it is ready to move to the next step. Design reviews are infrequent, leaving team members and stakeholders out of the loop.

To remedy these slowdowns, the agile methodology encourages transparency and democratizes work. If everyone on the team can see a project’s progress, they’re able to make comments immediately and work alongside each other on the same idea.

“Concurrent work, coupled with a high clock cycle reveal, helps you understand a variety of different approaches and pick and choose the best as you go,” Heppelmann said.

Read about the real-life example from XING Mobility.

Innovation Requires Change

The second practice is embracing change and adaptability during the development process. 

“The world of agile argues that it's impossible to get anything perfect upfront,” Heppelmann said. “You should embrace change as a more natural part of the process.” 

The thought of scrapping an idea in favor of a new one can induce groans from management and send shivers down a designer’s back. While understandable, it’s also short-sighted. By not keeping options open and iterating quickly, the end product is at risk of failing or worse – being mediocre.

For company Actronika, embracing change was possible after embracing cloud-native CAD. Read about their experience.

Prioritize Product Quality

“Agile allows us to design quality from the very beginning and tested at every step along the way,” Heppelmann said.

This key practice goes hand in hand with embracing change and with frictionless workflows. Each of these practices allows teams to focus on what really matters: Creating something worthwhile.

Typically teams don’t test out a product design until later in the workflow, but with the agile methodology, it’s necessary to review more frequently and leave feedback.

You can read about another real-life example from Hy5. Head on over to their case study now.

Onshape Enables Agile Development

You’ve read a brief description of the three key elements of the agile methodology. You might be left wondering, how do I do that? 

Onshape, the only cloud-native CAD platform that integrates PDM, is your answer. Onshape allows hardware development teams to collaborate at the same time, access data whenever and wherever, and work without the friction of file-based systems.

Are you ready to embrace the agile method? Then it’s time to try Onshape. 

After all, “You're either working the agile way, or your colleagues think you're a dinosaur,” according to Heppelmann.

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