The Digital Transformation Journey at Porsche: Global SAFe Summit

Porsche AG
Sep 17 · 5 min read

Agile has taken the world by storm, spreading across most major industries, with automotive being no exception. In their article “Agile Transformation: Bringing the Porsche Experience into the Digital Future with SAFe,” our colleagues have outlined the digital transformation journey Porsche has taken in recent years, emphasizing the importance of being Agile in today’s increasingly complex and digitized world.

Gaining more and more momentum, the digital transformation at Porsche has been taking great leaps forward in terms of impact and scale. However, scaling Agile across the organization is a very difficult and often lengthy undertaking. To scale Agile at enterprise-level, we at Porsche are using the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®), a well-established framework combining lean, agile and DevOps principles and practices for the iterative development of software and digital products. Built around seven core competencies, SAFe empowers large organizations to extend Lean and Agile values and principles well beyond the team or project level to achieve business agility.

Oliver Seifert, Mattias Ulbrich & Michael Clarkin discussing Porsche’s digital transformation journey.

Opening keynote at Global SAFe summit

As part of the 2021 Global SAFe Summit, we (Mattias Ulbrich and Oliver Seifert) will participate in a keynote interview with Michael Clarkin, Chief Marketing Officer at Scaled Agile, to discuss Porsche’s digital transformation journey and share some of our key learnings. Michael was so kind to fly in from the States to our headquarters in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen to talk with us about how we take advantage of new opportunities and how Porsche is adapting and transforming its business.

As the world’s largest gathering of Agile leaders and professionals, the Global SAFe Summit audience is laser focused on enabling digital transformation initiatives. Our full interview will be the opening key note of the annual SAFe summit, which is taking place this year from September 27th to October 1st. Additionally, our colleagues Jan Burchhardt, Director Digital Transformation at Porsche AG, and Alena Keck, Enterprise Lean-Agile Coach at MHP — A Porsche Company, will give a deep dive into the Lean-Agile transformation at Porsche in their customer story.

Alena Keck & Jan Burchhardt — Porsche’s speakers at Global SAFe Summit 2021

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 — recent advancements in technology have forced us to become even more creative, innovative, and agile. Indeed, the need for transformation is inevitable and affects all business areas: The automotive industry will change more in the next five years than within the previous 50 years.

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 we at Porsche are doing. By building a bridge as well as a strong partnership between IT and engineering, we are bringing the digital experience into the car. The Lean-Agile transformation allows us to be creative and innovative, drive purposeful change, and ultimately deliver better products and services to our customers.

To manage the digital transformation across the different divisions of Porsche and Porsche Digital, we have established the Digital Product Organization. As stated by our CEO Oliver Blume, transformation for us means that all core areas of our business are affected. Thus, every employee needs to embrace change and become a driver of the digital transformation. Great examples that our digital future is already here are My Porsche and Porsche Connect.

Dr. Oliver Blume — CEO at Porsche AG

Focusing on customers and employees

What challenges do Agile and SAFe solve for us? Working in an agile way equips our teams with the ability to adapt quickly and flexibly. Moreover, it enables us to change, to develop and launch innovative products and solutions faster and more efficiently than ever before. Scaling with SAFe empowers not only our teams but our entire organization to master complexity. To handle this complexity, we focus on our customers and our employees. We are putting the customer at the center of everything we do, and we are making the teams responsible for products or solutions end-to-end.

Moreover, thanks to SAFe, our Digital Product Organization 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 us to bring different goals together and foster a culture of collaboration between the teams. We call this the Porsche-Takt — our common heartbeat for synchronization and alignment. In addition to sharing the same methods, principles, and processes, our network of cross-functional and self-organized teams all share the same vision of what solutions we want to create together for our customers. As part of our Lean-Agile transformation, SAFe is firmly embedded in the Porsche Strategy 2030.

Porsche’s #DigitalFamily is continuously growing and supporting 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 organizational 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. We understand that transformation takes time, and that collaboration is key. Everything is possible if we share the same vision and work together to achieve our goals. Finally, in our experience, the organizations that are doing Agile right know how to balance agility and stability. Thus, we want to preserve what is working and build upon it. At Porsche, we embrace stability and tradition as well as innovation and agility. Our goal is twofold: We bring the digital experience into the car, and we bring the Porsche experience into the digital era. Our #DigitalFamily is constantly growing, and we are always on the lookout for great talents who embrace change.

About this publication: Where innovation meets tradition. There’s more to Porsche than sports cars — we’re tackling new challenges, develop digital products and think digital with a focus on the customer. On our Medium blog, we tell these stories. It’s about our #nextvisions, smart technologies and the people that drive our digital journey. Please follow us on Twitter (Porsche Digital, Next Visions), Instagram (Porsche Digital, Next Visions, Porsche Newsroom) and LinkedIn (Porsche AG, Porsche Digital) for more.

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