An Exploratory Study on Applying a Scrum Development Process for Safety-Critical Systems

, , and . PROFES 2017: Product-Focused Software Process Improvement, volume 10611 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, page 324-340. Springer, (2017)


Background: Agile techniques recently have received attention from the developers of safety-critical systems. However, a lack of empirical knowledge of performing safety assurance techniques, especially safety analysis in a real agile project hampers further steps. Aims: In this article, we aim at (1) understanding and optimizing the S-Scrum development process, a Scrum extension with the integration of a systems theory based safety analysis technique, STPA (System-Theoretic Process Analysis), for safety-critical systems; (2) validating the Optimized S-Scrum development process further. Method: We conducted a two-stage exploratory case study in a student project at the University of Stuttgart, Germany. Results: The results in stage 1 showed that S-Scrum helps to ensure safety of each release but is less agile than the normal Scrum. We explored six challenges on: priority management; communication; time pressure on determining safety requirements; safety planning; time to perform upfront planning; and safety requirements’ acceptance criteria. During stage 2, the safety and agility have been improved after the optimizations, including an internal and an external safety expert; pre-planning meeting; regular safety meeting; an agile safety plan; and improved safety epics and safety stories. We have also gained valuable suggestions from industry, but the generalization problem due to the specific context is still unsolved.

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