Mike Hogg, Zuhlke
embedded.com (January 22, 2014)
Embedded systems require hardware. We've experienced successful hardware development following agile principles, in particular by ASIC and FPGA teams. Nevertheless, many hardware engineers find it impossible to follow an agile approach; their "design -- manufacture -- assemble -- test" lifecycle is often too long and expensive for such an iterative incremental scheme. How can agile software developers work with such hardware engineers?
Let's focus on running a scrum process when there are inter-dependencies with a non-agile team. Advice on managing this scenario is rare.
Agile teams work on user stories that describe the functionality to be delivered. These are collected in a product backlog. Should user stories only cover software features? No, in the embedded space software alone is insufficient to make a product. Rather, we can use top level stories (known as epics) that reflect the combined software and hardware development needed, and are understood by both disciplines. The software team will likely break these epics down in to a series of smaller constituent user stories for the software features, while the hardware team may manage their work differently.
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