Known for its ingenuity, innovation, and quality, Germany’s product development credentials need little introduction. That’s the sort of reputation you achieve when your country is credited with inventing the modern automobile.
And yet, from Berlin to Munich, product development teams in Germany are wrestling with a familiar question: How do you balance efficiency and quality as the scope of your projects grows increasingly complex?
Whether it’s sophisticated hardware melding with intricately-coded software, or an incredibly complicated system being designed from scratch, engineers across the world are realizing traditional tools — such as Word and Excel documents, or legacy solutions — are inhibitors for agility and innovation.
Some of the answers can be found in the modernization of processes and solutions, and Jama Software is an enabler for both of those shifts within Germany.
To get a better feel for the German product development landscape, we spoke with two Jama Software team members — Dr. Michael Jastram, Senior Solutions Architect, and Wolfram Kusterer, Strategic Account Executive — who are both located in Germany and are in the process of assisting several companies with modernization initiatives.
Germany has a rich history as a leader in the innovation and quality of products. How would you say it’s living up to those ideals today?
Michael: Germany is an industrial country with centuries of experience in product development, which has yielded much expertise in traditional fields like industrial applications, chemistry, machinery, and cars. This manifests primarily in what’s known as the hidden champions: German companies that tend to fly beneath the radar but are experts in their fields worldwide.
Wolfram: Companies in Germany that practice product development are really good with process. They take a lot of time and effort to get the process right and make it efficient. If you look at some of the functional safety standards, like in the automotive industry, a lot of that was driven by German companies.
Also, very early on, Germany had a very strong focus and passion for the environment, and, in particular, environmental technology. Germany is one of the countries that created the rapid drop in prices for solar technology, for instance, and, when combined with policymaking, it resulted in a huge green technology industry in the country. Looking to the future, Germany is in a great position to really contribute to the welfare of the planet with advanced green technology.
Check out our collection of white papers, eBooks, guides, customer stories and more for German readers in our Resource Library.
What are some of the key topics in German product development at the moment?
Michael: People recognize agile as a crucial aspect of product development. While agile development is pretty much the standard today in software development, we now also see the desire to go beyond software with agile approaches, agile requirements, and agile transformation of organizations, agile hardware, and whatnot. This is certainly something that has been a hot topic for the last 5 to 10 years and continues to be because agile is a concept that can be applied to so many different fields.
A second topic that I see a lot is the Internet of Things or connected devices. What’s interesting is, we obviously always think about the network coffee maker or the smart fridge. But this goes to factory floors being networked. This even goes as far as having robots where their various parts and pieces are not wired together anymore but instead are networked together wirelessly. This is a huge field, and we are just at the beginning of that.
Ditch outdated product development methods like documents and legacy software, and see how Jama Connect enables world-class requirements management.
Do you see any product development opportunities that are unique to Germany when compared to the rest of the world?
Wolfram: Everyone wants to move to a modern, faster, more agile type of product development, where they can be more competitive. Unfortunately, there are some things holding them back. In Germany, there’s a very risk-averse culture, which is great when you’re talking about functional safety. However, when it comes to adapting a product development process to be faster or more flexible, there can be some hesitancy. And that’s an area we’re excited to continue exploring because there is so much potential to unlock.
Michael: There’s definitely a lot of market pressure, like everywhere, to be more innovative, to deal with complexity, and getting rid of legacy tools in general. There’s also recognition that just exchanging a tool doesn’t solve the problem. So, Germans are working very hard, trying to be more agile, trying to really change the culture, being more entrepreneurial, and just being more innovative, and taking risks. And we see Jama as being the perfect partner on this journey.
What do you see for the future of product development in Germany?
Michael: Like product developers in so many other countries, folks in Germany know they need to change their processes to stay current. Working with documents and legacy software just isn’t enough to stay competitive anymore, let alone build the highest-quality products possible. And product development teams know a single tool won’t solve all their issues. The solution must be a core development process change, combined with a cutting-edge platform. So for these teams, Jama Connect can really be an enabler for organizational change as they look toward the future.
Product development team located in Germany and interested in learning more about Jama Connect?
Try it for yourself or visit us at one of these upcoming events:
– Seminar: “What is the Golden Path to Systems Development?” in Stuttgart on March 13, 2020 [Register Here]
– Tradeshow: REConf 2020 in Munich on March 23-27, 2020