What is Agile Hardware Development?

Agile hardware development is a methodology that applies the principles and practices of Agile software development to the development of hardware products. While Agile originated in the software industry, its concepts have been successfully adapted to other fields, including hardware development.

A Brief into of Agile Hardware Development

The traditional hardware development process is often linear, with a set sequence of steps that must be completed before moving on to the next phase. This can result in long development cycles and a lack of flexibility to adapt to changes or feedback. Agile hardware development, on the other hand, emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and iterative development.

One of the key principles of Agile hardware development is the use of cross-functional teams that include members with diverse skills and expertise, such as mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, software developers, and product designers. These teams work collaboratively to develop hardware products in an iterative and incremental manner.

Agile hardware development also emphasizes continuous integration and testing throughout the development process. This allows for quick identification and resolution of issues, as well as the ability to adapt to changing requirements or customer feedback. Overall, Agile hardware development provides a more flexible and collaborative approach to hardware development, allowing for quicker development cycles and better alignment with customer needs.

Key Difference Between Agile Hardware and Agile Software

Agile software and agile hardware share many principles and practices, but there are also key differences in how they are applied. Here are some of the main differences between agile software and agile hardware −

  • Development process − In agile software development, the development process is usually completely digital and does not require physical prototyping or manufacturing. However, agile hardware development involves physical prototyping and manufacturing, which can add complexity and cost to the development process.

  • Iteration cycles − Agile software development typically involves shorter iteration cycles than agile hardware development, due to the faster pace of digital development. In agile hardware development, each iteration cycle may take longer due to the need for physical prototyping and testing.

  • Cross-functional teams − Cross-functional teams are a key aspect of both agile software and hardware development. However, the types of skills required for each team may differ. Agile software development teams may consist of software developers, testers, and designers, while agile hardware development teams may include mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and product designers.

  • Continuous integration and testing − Both agile software and hardware development emphasize continuous integration and testing, but the methods used may differ. In agile software development, continuous integration and testing can be done automatically using software tools, while in agile hardware development, physical prototyping and testing may require more manual effort.

  • Feedback loops − Feedback loops are an important part of both agile software and hardware development. However, the types of feedback received may differ. In agile software development, feedback may come from users of the software, while in agile hardware development, feedback may come from customers or stakeholders who have used physical prototypes of the product.

Agile Hardware and Software Key Similarities

There are some key similarities between hardware and software products. Firstly, both types of products exhibit behaviour, where users interact with them, they interact with other products, and they produce outputs based on inputs. Additionally, both hardware and software have functional and non-functional requirements.

These requirements can be user-facing or non-user-facing, but they are essential to ensure the successful functioning of the product. Finally, both hardware and software products can be complex, and their specifications can be represented using a tree structure as major features are broken down into smaller components.

Recommendations for Agile Hardware Development

  • Establish cross-functional teams − Agile hardware development requires cross-functional teams that include members with diverse skills and expertise. It is important to establish these teams early in the development process and ensure that they have clear roles and responsibilities.

  • Focus on rapid prototyping − Rapid prototyping is a key aspect of Agile hardware development, as it allows teams to quickly test and iterate on product designs. Establish processes for quickly creating and testing physical prototypes.

  • Emphasize continuous integration and testing − Continuous integration and testing should be a central aspect of Agile hardware development. This can help teams quickly identify and resolve issues, and ensure that the product meets quality standards.

  • Prioritize collaboration and communication − Agile hardware development relies on collaboration and communication between team members. Encourage open communication and ensure that team members have opportunities to share feedback and ideas.

  • Use agile project management tools − Agile project management tools can help teams stay organized, track progress, and manage workflows. Choose tools that are specifically designed for hardware development, such as those that can integrate with hardware design software.

  • Incorporate customer feedback − Agile hardware development emphasizes the importance of gathering and incorporating customer feedback. Establish processes for gathering feedback on product designs and using it to inform future iterations.

  • Adopt a flexible mindset − Agile hardware development requires a flexible mindset, as the development process may need to adapt to changes or new information. Encourage teams to be open to change and willing to adjust their approach as needed.


In conclusion, Agile hardware development can greatly benefit from the Scrum process. While there is much more that can be said about this topic, our forthcoming white paper on Agile hardware development will provide more in-depth guidance on how to successfully develop hardware using Agile methodologies. Keep an eye out for this resource if you want to learn more about this exciting approach to hardware development.

Updated on: 28-Mar-2023


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