Volkswagen's "Extreme Programming" Approach: Software Development using Agile Methods
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Volkswagen's "Extreme Programming" Approach: Software Development using Agile Methods

Image Attribute: Dr. Martin Hofmann. Volkswagen Digital Lab Berlin. Foto: Jens Oellermann/  Image ID: DB2018AL00047/ Source: Volkswagen AG

Image Attribute: Dr. Martin Hofmann. Volkswagen Digital Lab Berlin. Foto: Jens Oellermann/  Image ID: DB2018AL00047/ Source: Volkswagen AG

The Volkswagen Group is expanding its IT know-how for the development of digital customer offerings. Group IT has significantly strengthened its Digital Lab in Berlin and has doubled the number of employees since the Lab was inaugurated in October 2016. Currently, some 70 IT specialists work there and the team is due to expand to about 120. Team members include programmers, data scientists, software designers and developers; they are working on topics such as new services for the networked vehicle. The Digital Lab is part of a worldwide network of competence centers where the Volkswagen Group is stepping up its involvement in all future-oriented digital fields.

"At the Digital Lab, an international team is developing tailor-made solutions for a variety of digital applications for all the brands and units," says Martin Hofmann, CIO of the Volkswagen Group. "We combine IT expert knowledge with agile software development. This is a recipe for success which we will be rolling out more intensively in our core organization."

Software for Digital Customer Offerings

At the Digital Lab, software for digital customer offerings and services connected with the networked vehicle is being developed. For example, the team is working on the Volkswagen brand's new mobility service "We Deliver" (cars becoming mobile addresses for delivery of parcels). The Lab is also creating technical platform solutions that will be made available to all Group brands and companies. The team is also working on other projects such as the processing of public traffic data for new smart mobility approaches.

Both the team at the Digital Lab and their everyday work are international. Currently, some 70 specialists from 16 countries work there and the number is due to rise to 120 in the future. They come from countries such as India, Singapore, Ukraine and the USA – and, of course, also from Germany. They include programmers, data scientists, software designers and developers. Women account for almost a third of the team and the office language is English.

Agile working method "Extreme Programming (XP)"

The team uses the agile working method "extreme programming (XP)" developed in the Silicon Valley technology scene. This software development method focuses on the principle of evolution. The software is not developed and handed over as a complex product, but evolved and tested in agile teams in close cooperation with the client. This approach fosters quality and creativity, allowing rapid adjustment to changes in project requirements. The extreme programming method also includes the pairing approach adopted by the Digital Lab. In each case, teams of two IT specialists focus on the same content of their task.

The Digital Lab was founded with financial support from the innovation fund for the Volkswagen brand, a joint initiative of the company and the Works Council.

The Berlin Digital Lab is one of six operated by the Group throughout the world. The others are located in Wolfsburg (2) and Munich, as well as in Barcelona and San Francisco. At these labs, Group IT is researching and developing solutions in fields such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, intelligent human-robot cooperation, the digitalized factory and smart mobility.