The Case for Agile Certification in Automotive

Monday, April 8, 2019

#Functional Safety    #Automotive SPICE    #Management Consulting    #Automotive Agile

We heard you. Several of our customers have requested certification for Agile specific to the automotive context. You want our help to sustain or grow your project management capability without losing previous efforts on Functional Safety and ASPICE®. In addition, your comments and our research below suggest there are many reasons to considering certifying. Therein, we will be launching Agile in Automotive™ this year in 1-2 locations with the possibility of expanding it outward.    

That said, we would love it if YOU (specifically) join the conversation: (only two questions) 

Ok, here are the reasons we found for getting certified:

#1: Legitimacy

In the article “The Business Case for Certifications”, Allan Boardman states that “Organizations employing certification holders … benefit. It demonstrates to the outside world that the organizations have invested in professionals who possess demonstrated knowledge and skills in the key areas ….” And he is not alone. Amongst the research we conducted, this was the most frequently mentioned reason. “Encouraging your employees to earn a professional certification will tell your clients that your company holds its staff to the highest professional standards and will take very good care of them. Your customers will feel safer and more secure knowing they’re in certified hands,” per “Four Reasons a Professional Certification Benefits the Entire Company”. And according to a study by Science Direct, this is especially true for corporations operating outside of their home environment: “Obtaining a certification is a strategic legitimacy action that positively affects a firm’s profitability....”

#2: Turnover

Although keeping turnover costs low makes sense to every corporation, we were flabbergasted at the expense and its correlation to an employee’s sense of career development. First the cost: according to the Huffington Post, the financial impacts can quickly add-up to a whopping 213% of his/her annual salary. Add-up hiring, onboarding, development, unfilled time, etc. multiply that by the number of unwanted-employees-lost and it becomes a staggering number, e.g. one study showed a $1.3M expense from losing a strategic employee. And, surprisingly, most organizations are not tracking the costs versus the actions correlated to turnover prevention to decide when Return on Investment (ROI) comes into play.

The Huffington Post goes on to list [Career] Growth as the #1 method of preventing turnover. “The craving for growth is especially visible for the younger generation that is coming to dominate the workforce. Younger workers are more easily able to prioritize things like personal growth and career opportunity over income and job security.” The Chicago Tribune backs that up: “Career development is particularly relevant for retention, as about 70 percent of employees say they are dissatisfied with growth opportunities at their companies, according to CEB.” A Harvard Business Review article entitled “Why Top Young Managers Are in a Nonstop Job Hunt” says the 1200 managers surveyed feel “... employers generally satisfied their need for increased responsibility and promotion opportunities, but ‘they’re not getting much in the way of formal development, such as training, mentoring and coaching’.”  

So if the perception of career growth is strongly correlated to reducing the expense turnover, how much does training play into that? A 2014 SHRM study showed 84% of employees rated “Job-specific training” as Very Important (40%) or Important (44%) with respect to Career Development Aspect, making it the #2 overall indicator (see below).

Robert Half sums it up well: “Assisting your team in obtaining industry designations shows them you share in their desire to be the best they can be. Employees also will feel noticed and valued by the company, and by you, as their manager. This sense of value can go a long way in prompting them to want to stay”

#3: Other Reasons We Found

Many of these make sense, but don’t warrant more than a mention since they weren’t supported by data or studies:

  •  Encourages “Peace of Mind”, i.e. managers feel more comfortable about quality of work
  •  Boosts Productivity, i.e. employees are more likely to do the job correctly the first time
  •  Keeps employees up-to-date on industry trends
  •  Drums-up leads/referrals from people met during the training, e.g. OEMs
  •  Tax credit or deduction in some countries
  •  Better hiring accuracy, i.e. proven understanding in a given field
  •  Builds brand recognition with “… other key players in the industry”, i.e. students from other corporations

Worth Noting: Automotive is Different, But Not Orthogonal

Kugler Maag Cie did a study in 2015 via fifteen interviews (15) and twenty-seven (27) online surveys of automotive companies, and found the following:

  •  “The majority of respondents stated that there is no contradiction between Agile and Automotive SPICE®.
  •  In fact, one respondent mentioned tasks for continuous improvement on ASPICE® are included in the team’s backlog and planned in conjunction with other activities.
  •  That said, traditional Agile method definitions have a lower level of rigor than ASPICE® (e.g. requirements captured on 3x5 cards), so applying Agile within automotive requires some industry understanding.
  •  Functional Safety at all ASIL levels can be accomplished using Agile, again with an understanding of how to apply it within automotive specifically
  •  “The majority of respondents mentioned that following Agile methods/principles ‘blindly’ as described ‘by the book’ (a.k.a. ‘Scrum Guide’) would have led to failure.”

If you would like to read the full report, see 


Do you need to improve your automotive product development, to increase efficiency, or to comply with ASPICE and Functional Safety? You are at the right place.