Agile is a word on almost everyone's lips, spreading across most major industries, with automotive being no exception. In an article, ‘Agile transformation: bringing the Porsche experience into the digital future with SAFe’, Jan Burchhardt and Stefan Wiechmann from Porsche AG, and Bastian Plieninger from Porsche Digital, outline the journey of digital transformation taken by Porsche over recent years, emphasising the importance of being Agile in today’s increasingly complex and digitised world. Two of Porsche AG’s vice presidents, Mattias Ulbrich and Oliver Seifert, can now provide new insights and explain what it takes to successfully lead a digital transformation.
Gaining more and more momentum, the digital transformation at Porsche has taken great leaps forward in terms of impact and scale. However, scaling across the organisation is a very difficult and often lengthy undertaking. To do it at an enterprise-level, Porsche is using the long-established Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®), which combines lean, agile and DevOps principles and practices for the iterative development of software and digital products. Built around seven core competencies, the aim of SAFe is to empower large organisations to achieve business agility by extending these values and principles well beyond team or project levels.
Opening keynote at Global SAFe Summit
As part of the 2021 Global SAFe Summit, Mattias Ulbrich and Oliver Seifert will participate in a keynote interview with Michael Clarkin, Chief Marketing Officer at Scaled Agile, to discuss Porsche’s journey of digital transformation and share some of the sports car manufacturer’s key learnings.
As the world’s largest gathering of leaders and professionals who have adopted the Agile approach, the Global SAFe Summit audience is laser-focused on enabling digital transformation initiatives. The full interview will be the opening keynote of the annual SAFe summit, which is taking place this year from 27 September to 1 October. Also at the event, Jan Burchhardt, Director Digital Transformation at Porsche AG, and Alena Keck, Enterprise Lean-Agile Coach at MHP – A Porsche Company, will take the audience on a deep dive into the Lean-Agile transformation at Porsche.
Agile transformation at Porsche: building the bridge between IT and engineering
While agility and innovation have always been important for Porsche – the history of Agile work at Porsche dates back as far as 1931, when Ferdinand Porsche founded his engineering office in Stuttgart – its shift towards the digital era has put even greater emphasis on the need to scale agile practices. In their keynote interview, Ulbrich and Seifert explain how recent advancements in technology have been incorporated into Porsche’s way of working to enable the company to become even more creative, innovative – and Agile. As they will explain, the need for transformation is inevitable and affects all business areas: the automotive industry has changed and will change even more in the next five years than it has over the course of the past 50.
Today, it is not enough to execute the existing business model. To thrive in an increasingly complex and technology-driven world, companies need to extend their core business and search for new and potentially disruptive business models, which requires speed, flexibility, and shorter time-to-market. And that’s exactly what Porsche is doing. By building a bridge as well as a strong partnership between IT and engineering, the organisation is bringing the digital experience into the car. The Lean-Agile transformation allows the sports car manufacturer to be creative and innovative, drive purposeful change, and ultimately deliver better products and services to its customers.
To manage the digital transformation across the different divisions of Porsche and Porsche Digital, the Digital Product Organisation was established. As stated by Porsche CEO Oliver Blume, all core areas of Porsche’s business are affected by the digital transformation. Every employee needs to embrace change and become a driver of this transformation. Great examples that the digital future is already here are My Porsche and Porsche Connect.
Focusing on customers and employees
What challenges do Agile and SAFe solve for Porsche? Working in an agile way equips its teams, leaders, and partners with the ability to adapt quickly and flexibly. Moreover, it enables the organisation to change, develop and launch innovative products and solutions faster and more efficiently than ever before. Scaling with SAFe empowers not only Porsche’s teams but the entire organisation to master complexity. To handle this complexity, the company focuses on its customers and its employees. It puts the customer at the centre of everything it does and makes teams responsible for products and solutions end-to-end.
Moreover, thanks to SAFe, the Digital Product Organisation now has one language to connect everyone on common ground (the same terms for routines, the same roles and responsibilities, and similarly applied processes), which allows the organisation to bring different goals together and foster a culture of collaboration between teams. It is called the Porsche-Takt – the common heartbeat for synchronisation and alignment. In addition to sharing the same methods, principles, and processes, the network of cross-functional and self-organised teams all share the same vision of what solutions they want to create together for customers. As part of the Lean-Agile transformation, SAFe is firmly embedded in the Porsche Strategy 2030.
Embracing agility and fostering collaboration
Today, many of the world’s most successful enterprises have Agile values and principles built into their organisational culture, either by default or by design. However, becoming an agile enterprise is not a one-time initiative with a completion date, but rather an ongoing, relentless improvement process. Transformation takes time and collaboration is key. Everything is possible if everyone shares the same vision and works together to achieve common goals. Finally, the organisations that are doing Agile right know how to balance agility and stability. Porsche wants to preserve what is working and build upon it. The company embraces stability and tradition as well as innovation and agility. Porsche’s goal is twofold: to bring the digital experience into the car and to bring the Porsche experience into the digital era. The Porsche #DigitalFamily is constantly growing, and the organisation is always on the lookout for great talent, and people who embrace change.