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TR13-002 | 23rd September 2013 11:05

Jumpstarting Scrum with Design Thinking


Customers have become more demanding in terms of customization, speed, and involvement with the value proposition of today’s services and products. This means that in order to remain competitive, companies need to re-design their existing development processes to constantly capture the customer needs, rapidly conceive innovative, highly customer-oriented solutions, and perform these developments with an increasingly short time-to-market. Today, almost all products and services are software-driven. The software either provides underlying functions or augments them. For example, there is hardly a product manufactured now that does not have an associated app. Software development in such ecosystems is very complex, and it becomes even more demanding in the context of large enterprise applications. Business software requirements, e.g., for security and accessibility, impose tremendous non-functional requirements, while laws and regulations from around the world further complicate development. These factors have long driven software development methodology towards solid requirements and process efficiency rather than the kind of innovative rapid responses customers now demand. To rapidly deliver solutions in this flexible environment, many companies have adopted agile software development processes, such as Scrum. But even though Scrum can help to deliver software solutions in a highly dynamic environment with unclear solution requirements, its main focus is not the delivery of radical new innovations. There is, however, a human- centered, prototype-driven innovation methodology called “Design Thinking” (DT), which shares many common principles with Scrum. These principles, amongst others, include an iterative workflow and a flexible process framework. Our hypothesis is that these two meth- odologies are compatible and that the merger of the two into one integrated DT@Scrum approach would result in an agile software development process that could deliver the innovative customer-oriented products and services required by competitive companies. The paper identifies different operation modes for the described approach depending on the aspired level of innovation, the team composition, and the project size and discusses possibilities to incorporate the new approach into large IT departments of companies. This covers aspects such as distributed teams, scaling of projects, and adherence to internal and external regulations. The operation modes Design Thinking Mode, Initial Development Mode and Fully Integrated Mode are addressed by proposing a set of general process activities, discussing the application of roles and techniques, and proposing techniques to allow a smooth transition between requirements identification, ideation, and implementation. While the paper provides potential methods of validation, such as initial test projects and experiments, further tests and validation of the proposed activities, roles, and techniques are necessary. The intent of this paper is to make these ideas available for discussion with fellow researchers and all interested and potentially affected divisions within SAP, with the ultimate goal of creating an integrated DT@Scrum process model that will leverage human-centered, creative techniques for requirements engineering and seamlessly move from there to agile development, thus providing a holistic, user-centered software development approach.

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