In the automotive sector, where new entrants are disrupting every segment from small cars to trucks and buses, the average product life cycle has shortened from roughly eight years to four over the past decade. AutoCo was not only failing to keep pace in launching new vehicles, but its efforts to do so were consistently over budget, sometimes by more than 25%.
Agile development presented a possible solution to AutoCo’s innovation dilemma. Deployed correctly, small, multidisciplinary, entrepreneurial teams could streamline complex tasks and projects and adapt quickly to new market opportunities.
With deep expertise in Agile, including an exclusive partnership with Scrum Inc. and hundreds of certified Agile practitioners, Bain was ideally positioned to inject the many benefits of Agile into AutoCo’s innovation efforts and manufacturing processes.
It was clear, however, that this would be an ambitious and in some ways unique undertaking. AutoCo’s typical project size and complexity, highly rigid processes, complicated physical prototypes, intensive interactions with suppliers, and the other realities of designing and building large, complex vehicles posed numerous challenges. But the Bain team was confident that it could help AutoCo navigate these obstacles and implement Agile to arrive at faster, more efficient ways to get new products to market.
Bain helped AutoCo embrace Agile to a degree that, once the company scales it to its full potential, can help it solidify its market-leading status in several ways.
- Speed. By shifting to Agile, some processes can now be done in six weeks vs. six months.
- Motivation and education. Employees have come to embrace Agile and Scrum as a working mode. Their response was overwhelmingly positive to the Agile primer, an interactive website that served as a knowledge hub, and the overall process for developing their Agile capabilities.
- Customer centricity. Agile entails a high level of input from, and collaboration with, customers. As just one example, the vehicle developed from scratch was regarded as 100% customer-centric, as customer input and preferences influenced every element of design.
- Proof is in the pudding. By piloting the approach on a real-life car project, AutoCo and Bain facilitated on-the-job training, and sent a signal throughout the entire organization that Agile actually delivers tangible results.