Task-switching in agile transformation

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Management and economics of innovation (MPMEI), MSc
Ramdoss Raja, Sathya Narayanan
Wahlström, Sofia
With the automotive industry constantly changing and being subjected to more competition than ever, the automobile manufacturers are now changing their ways of working to stay competitive. One way of doing that is to go from the traditional way of working to work more agile. When working agile, the structure of the development teams has changed from being specialized to cross-functional. The introduction of the agile way of working in the automotive industry has its challenges and frequent task-switching is one of them. While the teams work in an increased number of projects in the agile way of working, they switch tasks frequently to cater to the new structure. While most of the task-switching is necessary for the agile way of working, there is unwanted task-switching that affects the development team members. This master’s thesis has been conducted at Volvo Cars, which recently completed its agile transformation, to identify factors that influence task-switching for the agile hardware development teams. In addition to this, the effects of these identified factors were investigated. The empirical strategy was focused on a case study, consisting of an exploratory survey and semi-structured interviews. The answers from the exploratory survey were used as basis for the interviews. The interviews were conducted with the development team members and the managerial side to capture both aspects of the research topic. Through systematic matching between the case study and literature on task-switching, the factors which influenced task-switching in agile hardware development teams were identified to be ‘interruptions’, ‘interdependencies’, ‘planning’, and ‘collaboration’. The factors have a beneficial or detrimental effect on the hardware development teams which influenced the organization’s ability to improve the agile way of working. The result showed that the types of factors did not change due to the agile transformation, but that the overall frequency seems to have increased. The study also shows that the factors have several effects on the development teams. Amongst others, it is shown to influence the amount of re-planning and quality, and increase the developer’s understanding of each other's work making it easier to support each other.
task-switching , agile transformation , automotive industry, , agile hardware development , planning , interruptions , interdependencies , collaboration
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