Helping Hardware Be Agile, Part 2

Once you have a roadmap/product backlog for hardware, the teams need to know what to do and when. As a program manager, program product owner, or other interested party, you might want to know where the work is. The roadmap shows the big picture. The demos and team-based backlogs show the details and interdependencies

One way to see the work is to ask the engineers to use a kanban board. I recommend each component have its own kanban to see the work in progress.

Here are possible kanbans for mechanical, silicon, and FPGA teams:

Possible Mechanical Engineering Kanban
Possible Mechanical Engineering Kanban
Possible Silicon Kanban
Possible Silicon Kanban
Possible FPGA Kanban
Possible FPGA Kanban

The FPGA kanban might look much more like a regular software kanban, up until you make the decision to go to physical form.

These are possible kanbans, not the way your organization might work.

These kanbans help everyone see where the work is. The roadmap in Helping Hardware Be Agile, Part 1 shows when the Program Product Owner would like the demos to be. The teams use those deliverables to decide when to integrate and test.

The more integration points your program has, the easier it is to see the entire product, not just one component.

The issue with integration points is that going to physical form can be expensive (in money and time). What is the relative value of staying in simulation mode vs. creating a prototype that people can touch and use? There is no One Right Answer. Part of it depends on the cadence of each team and the team’s risks. I’ll address hardware risks in the next installment.

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