Agile teams for flexibility and speed
The complexity of ZEISS VISUFIT 1000 is a consequence of not only the hardware but, most of all, the software. "If you don't know exactly what the end result will be when you start developing software, then agile project management can help," says Carls. The software was created in agile teams that complete work packages in quick stages known as sprints. "Agile development is really flexible. The entire team moves from one sprint to the next in three-week cycles. After each sprint, the situation is assessed before deciding what the next steps and goals should be." A Technical Lead is assigned for different topics. This person has sufficient in-depth knowledge to make new, crucial decisions during a sprint that set the course for further development.
This demonstrates what the term agile really means here: flexibility and short reaction times. This is crucial, because the development cycles for software are markedly different than for hardware. "While constructing a prototype takes several months, writing code is substantially faster," says Carls. "With software development, the hardware gives us a general framework. We then program a software fitting to an interface." Software and hardware are then integrated gradually.
Finding new paths through the jungle
Agile project management offers clear benefits: It minimizes the risks in the development process. The short sprint times and regular checks also make it less like that team members head in the wrong direction when developing individual software components. Moreover, the entire process is very transparent for everyone on the team – especially if the members come from different departments or divisions, as was the case with ZEISS VISUFIT 1000.
"In our case, the agile method was exactly the right choice for developing the ZEISS VISUFIT 1000 software," says Carls. "However, it's not a catch-all solution for every challenge. I think that you have to decide on a case-by-case basis which project management method is most suitable for the particular job." Jörg Carls likes to compare agile software development with the jungle: "You don't know your way through the undergrowth, so first you have to clear a path. Perhaps you will discover one or two new species along the way. What I mean is: Be flexible and adjust. You might say we are constantly finding new ways while we move forward." For the ECP, this ultimately results in a well-designed solution that has been put through its paces and whose development proves that this tool will serve them well in an increasingly digital future.