Digitally transforming ourselves

Digital transformation can help manufacturers make better decisions faster and help companies harness the accelerating rate of change.

By Randy Rausch and Steve Orth December 13, 2022
Image courtesy: Brett Sayles

Digital transformation is about using data to make better business decisions faster. The data shows agile project management methodologies consistently lead to higher quality, productivity and customer satisfaction. Project development cycles that were acceptable 10 years ago aren’t good enough for customers today. This trend will continue, and today’s “fast enough” won’t be fast enough tomorrow. To remain competitive, companies developing software need agile processes that navigate and harness the accelerating rate of change.

Agile helps teams develop better software faster and provides a competitive advantage in our rapidly changing world.

What is agile and how does it affect manufacturing operations?

Agile is a mindset and Lean manufacturing approach that emphasizes short time frames adaptability and completing projects through incremental steps. Agile methodologies are often contrasted with traditional waterfall approaches. Gantt charts are replaced with burn up charts. Scrum masters and product owners play a key role in project execution. Learning and adapting are valued more than proving original estimates were correct. Customer collaboration is prioritized over contract negotiation. The highest priority in agile is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable solutions.

Scrum is the most popular brand of agile and lightweight framework to organize, prioritize and execute projects with an emphasis on continuous improvement. Scrum is founded on empiricism and Lean thinking. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and decisions should be based on what is observed. Lean thinking reduces waste and focuses on the essentials.

What are the internal benefits of using agile?

The scrum framework helps resolve certain scaling concerns while also enhancing quality and productivity. Beyond the financial benefits, there are significant benefits to employee engagement and developing younger talent. Agile promotes team autonomy, which leads to higher satisfaction. Small teams stick together to deliver a set of projects, giving early career developers regular access to more seasoned engineers. The team has a predictable, prioritized and well-defined set of features groomed and ready for development. The framework helps recruit “digital natives” and enables new employees to ramp up quickly and contribute, which reduces an unhealthy dependency on a few star employees.

What is your approach?

Driven by industry trends and customer feedback, EOSYS is focusing the use of agile within our Digital Transformation team. Starting with the selection of a software platform to support agile development, EOSYS implemented Microsoft Azure DevOps to support the new ways of working. We also invested in hiring a professional scrum master with the experience needed to help guide the team on its journey.

Responsible for guiding the project management practices across the entire business, Orth offers: We have been taking a methodical approach to this effort, one that we believe will result in long term success for our team and customers. Our ongoing efforts include benchmarking, training, and pilot projects with customers that are requesting agile project management.