Real-Life Challenges on Agile Software Product Lines in Automotive
Context: The current situation and future scenarios of the automotive domain require a new strategy to develop high quality software in a fast pace. In the automotive domain, it is assumed that a combination of agile development practices and software product lines is beneficial, in order to be capable to handle high frequency of improvements. This assumption is based on the understanding that agile methods introduce more flexibility in short development intervals. Software product lines help to manage the high amount of variants and to improve quality by reuse of software for long term development.
Goal: This study derives a better understanding of the expected benefits for a combination. Furthermore, it identifies the automotive specific challenges that prevent the adoption of agile methods within the software product line.
Method: Survey based on 16 semi-structured interviews from the automotive domain, an internal workshop with 40 participants and a discussion round on ESE congress 2016. The results are analyzed by means of thematic coding.
Results: Two main expected benefits of merging agile practices and product line development are pushing the change in software development for future proof agile automotive organizations. Challenges that prevent agile adoption within software product lines are mainly of organizational, technical and social nature. Key challenges are related to transforming organizational structures and culture, achieving faster software release cycles without loss of quality, appropriate quality assurance measures for software variants, and the collaboration with suppliers and other disciplines such as mechanics.
Conclusion: Significant challenges are imposed by specific characteristics of the automotive domain such as high quality requirements and many interfaces to surrounding rigid and inflexible processes.
KeywordsAutomotive Agile software development Software product line
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