Achieving agility and quality in product development -an empirical study of hardware startups
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionBerg, V., Birkeland, J., Nguyen-Duc, A., Pappas, I. O., & Jaccheri, L. (2020). Achieving agility and quality in product development - an empirical study of hardware startups. Journal of Systems and Software, 167, 110599. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jss.2020.110599 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jss.2020.110599
Context: Startups aim at scaling their business, often by developing innovative products with limited hu- man and financial resources. The development of software products in the startup context is known as opportunistic, agility-driven, and with high tolerance for technical debt. The special context of hardware startups calls for a better understanding of state-of-the-practice of hardware startups’ activities. Objec- tive: This study aimed to identify whether and how startups can achieve product quality while main- taining focus on agility. Method: We conducted an exploratory study with 13 hardware startups, collect- ing data through semi-structured interviews and analysis of documentation. We proposed an integrative model of agility and quality in hardware startups. Results: Agility in hardware startups is complex and not achieved through adoption of fast-paced development practices alone. Hardware startups follow a quality- driven approach for development of core components, where frequent user testing is a measure for early debt management. Hardware startups often lack mindset and strategies for achieving long-term quality in early stages. Conclusions: Hardware startups need attention to hardware quality to allow for evolutionary prototyping and speed. Future research should focus on defining quality-driven practices that contribute to agility, and strategies and mindsets to support long-term quality in the hardware startup context.