Owning the Sky with Agile - Building a Jet Fighter Faster, Cheaper, Better with Scrum

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Saab JAS 39 Gripen at Kaivopuisto Air Show, June 2017

Advanced military systems are some of the most expensive and most complex research, design, and manufacturing challenges in the world. The sheer cost of military procurement worldwide is measured in the trillions of dollars, and for decades costs risen seemingly indefinitely. As a result, many companies are seeking new ways of working that will control costs while delivering the highest quality. Saab Defense has adopted an Agile process to address the issue in both hardware and software teamsto produce a new multi-role strike fighter, the JAS 39E Saab Gripen.

The complete paper can be downloaded from the Scrum Inc website.[1]

Paper authors: Jörgen Furuhjelm, Project Manager, R&D, Saab Aeronautics; Johan Segertoft, Project Manager, Avionics Software, Saab Aeronautics; Joe Justice and J.J. Sutherland, Scrum Inc.,

Key Takeaways

  • Agile (and Scrum) can be used in every level or engineering discipline. In this case from software, hardware & fuselage design[2]
  • It's important to set a common pulse of deliverables. In this case, 3 week sprints (all beginning/ending on same day), 4 sprints per increment, several Increments per “Development Step” (typically next Test Aircraft)
  • 1000 engineers/100 teams working together on the aircraft, all with team autonomy (within the constraints of the framework) to adjust to local context
  • Minimised organisational hierarchy, complete transparency, decisions made at lowest level possible
  • Product owner as proxy for the customer, plus Saab & customer pilots
  • Alignment with Strategic Plan as a living document in constant need of adjustment based upon learning[3]
Scrum in manufacturing: A motivational example - Joe Justice (https://www.scruminc.com/scrum-hardware-full-scale-manufacturing/)