Agile Leadership SAFe Automotive

Why Bosch is focusing on Scaled Agile Frameworks?

Digitalization, globalization and standardization. The change in the automotive industry towards e-mobility and digital vehicles is leading to a strategic realignment at BOSCH.

The story behind it

Few industries are experiencing more profound changes than the automotive industry. The foreseeable end of the combustion engine and the associated transformation to e-mobility play as big a role as the development of the digital vehicle. As an important global player in the mobility market, BOSCH is therefore strategically realigning itself completely. As part of this realignment, the Scaled Agile Framework has been a central organizational support for the company for years.

Bosch not only wants to survive but also to act sustainably from a position of strength in the transformation of the global mobility market. Meaningfulness, transparency, cross-functionality, and flat hierarchies are among the company-wide guiding principles of this Bosch transformation. This change in product portfolio and the organization itself goes hand in hand with a cultural and process change.

Bosch reacts agilely. The result is a long-standing and very trusting relationship between Bosch and KEGON. Mutual trust was built up through over 100 jointly conducted projects for agile process development. Shared values led to mutual respect.

A central point in this transformation is digital mobility development at the center of Bosch's largest business unit. The subsidiary ETAS now offers a portfolio of vehicle base software, middleware, development tools, cloud-based operations services, cybersecurity solutions, as well as end-to-end engineering and consulting services for realizing software-defined vehicles.1

ETAS is on its way to becoming a global market leader in the development of embedded software solutions for the digital vehicle and is already active in twelve countries worldwide. Through an open-source approach, the company is driving collaboration within the software-based mobility sector to improve joint capabilities and ensure fair regulation. This rapid transition from a globally leading company with protected manufacturing processes to a company based on open-source software development today also brings personnel challenges. As the results of an employee survey from 2016 showed, ETAS had to rethink its strategy and product completion processes.

The KEGON solution

The order from ETAS did not come out of the blue for Thorsten Janning, former mathematics professor and KEGON founder, due to the established relationship. As one of the first SAFe Practice Consultant Trainers (SPCT) in Europe, Janning has been called upon several times over the years to support the agile transformation of the ETAS organization through critical phases, offer coaching, and conduct SAFe training at Bosch as part of the overall transformation of product development.

Janning and his colleagues were also commissioned last year to optimize ETAS' strategic processes as well as software development for the automation of production lines. Transformations in these areas have revealed process challenges, but also personnel gaps. "Agile methods have helped us simplify collaboration between different product areas and focus on a common goal," says ETAS transformation manager Richard Mutschler. Results from the last employee survey show that with SAFe, there is now more transparency, clarity of goals, and effective structures for cooperation, leading to significantly improved employee satisfaction.

The introduction of a completely new value stream requires very different personnel and human skills than those traditionally required in manufacturing. With Bosch's transformation into a company for digital solutions, there is also a shift in communication and leadership skills. Janning observes that employees and managers in Europe today often already have good personal skills and abilities to act more independently within flatter hierarchies and more solidary, social structures. Janning says, "This socialization is particularly beneficial for product developers when they independently develop and yet jointly carry out a project increment within an Agile Release Train." And leadership in internationally distributed value chains, which increasingly focus on resilience rather than efficiency, is currently being rethought and practiced.

The journey is the destination

As Bosch aims to defend and even expand its position as a market leader within the continuously globalizing value chain of software development, KEGON continues to support the company in agile process development. For KEGON, this is not only a matter of loyalty but also conviction. Bosch demonstrates in both its organizational form and transformation efforts that agility is both an achievable and essential component of sustainability and responsibility.