14 February, 2022 Webmaster

Challenges of Agile Transformation in Automotive Industry

How can Automotive OEMs use Lean-Agile Transformation to stay competitive in the automotive market and how should the automotive industry be transformed as an ecosystem? We asked the expert! Alena Keck is Enterprise Lean-Agile Coach and Senior Manager at MHP – A Porsche Company, with over 12 years of experience in the automotive industry. Alena is actively promoting agility in automotive because of her strong believe that automotive industry should be transformed as an ecosystem, focusing on frequent integration points between OEMs and suppliers and establishing new cross-company collaboration models through agile contracts and partnerships.

We are very proud to present her as a Keynote Speaker in Track F Towards Scaled Business Agility on the 18th of May at VECS. We got the opportunity to ask Alena a few questions before the event and she was kind enough to share her insights about Agile Transformation in the Automotive Industry as well as giving us a teaser of her presentation.

Could you briefly describe your role as Enterprise Lean-Agile Coach and Senior Manager at MHP – A Porsche Company?

I help large global organizations to overcome challenges and pitfalls of Agile Transformation and to become successful on their transformation journey. Dedicating my entire career automotive industry, I have a vision to help OEMs and Tier 1 Suppliers to reinvent themselves by tapping into the power of Lean-Agile Transformation.

Currently Senior Manager at MHP – A Porsche Company I am growing a team of agile coaches, developing SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) Training offer at MHP and supporting SAFe Implementation at a premium automotive OEM as Enterprise Lean-Agile Coach. As part of Digital Transformation Office I help to connect Lean-Agile Transformation to the long term strategy and further develop and scale Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE).

How does Agile Transformation help Automotive Industry to solve its toughest challenges?

To answer this question let’s have a deeper look at the magnitude of current and future complexity in automotive.

Traditionally being strongly hardware- and requirements-driven – Automotive industry is now moving towards millions of lines of code, while facing ambiguity of new regulations and transitioning from selling the cars towards providing mobility solutions.

Agile approach is perfect for such a complex environment, where solution is often unknown. It is an empirical approach, where progress is measured based on observations of reality, not fictitious plans and documentation-based milestones. Compared to traditional product development process, you can significantly reduce the heavy baggage of assumptions which you carry till the final validation phase only to realize that it’s not working and it’s too late to change anything.

You live much closer to the reality, create a strong discipline of continuous testing and deployment, and elaborate new requirements as you learn from your test results.

Can you give some examples of how Automotive OEMs use Lean-Agile Transformation to stay competitive in the automotive market?

In 2021 automotive industry experienced a massive industrywide crisis due to the shortage of computer chips. While some traditional OEMs had to close the factories, Tesla hit record sales quarter after quater almost doubling its sales compared to 2020.

Why? “We have used alternative parts and programmed software to mitigate the challenges caused by these shortages,” the company said in its third-quarter earnings report.

Another brilliant example is how Toyota, thanks to its culture of relentless improvement and lean supply chain practices, outperformed GM in US sales the first time ever, as GM could not build enough new vehicles to meet the demand due to the shortage of semiconductor chips.

Could you elaborate your view on how the automotive industry should be transformed as an ecosystem?

Automotive Industry has a very complex value creation process, where every OEM integrates different systems and components from multiple Tier 1, 2, and 3 suppliers. Transforming one Tier 1 supplier will not make a huge impact on the total speed of vehicle development.

Therefore, in order to unlock the true power of agile transformation and increase speed of delivery, automotive industry should be transformed as an ecosystem, focusing on frequent integration points between OEMs and suppliers and establishing new collaboration models through agile contracts.

For instance, the VDA created a working group ‘Agile Collaboration’, with members from various OEMs and suppliers to create recommendations and provide more guidance on this topic.

At VECS you will talk about “Conquering 4 Challenges of Agile Transformation in Automotive Industry”. Would you mind revealing them?

In my presentation I distinguish between 4 critical challenges of Agile Transformation in Automotive Industry: #1 managing the change at scale, #2 transforming organizational structure, # 3 dealing with embedded systems # handling regulatory and compliance concerns. The first two challenges are foundational building blocks of the transformation and the last two are industry-specific challenges.

The central point is that you won’t be successful in mastering the industry-specific challenges if you don’t create a strong foundation for your transformation journey.

In your presentation at VECS you will provide some “Automotive examples demonstrating AGILITY overnight during pandemic”. Can you give us a sneak peak of one of these examples?

Sure. In Spring 2020 as most OEMs had to shut down their factories due to lockdown, some of them like Ford and GM turned the lights back on to start producing ventilators instead of pickup trucks in order to fight the global pandemic.

Finally, what are you most looking forward to by attending and speaking at VECS 2022?

After almost 2 years of remote conference experience, I am excited to join my first on-site conference again and enjoy not only meeting the speakers and the audience in person, but also to have a chance to finally socialize face-to-face during the breaks and after the conference. Moreover, I am also looking forward to reconnecting with some of the speakers, who I know from my previous positions.