Flexible New Product Development: Using Knowledge Transfer from Agile Software Development as a Catalyst for Adaptation – Case Study and Systematic Literature Review 

Timo Punkka

Research output: ThesisLicenciate's thesis


The life cycle of products is getting shorter and product development projects are more than ever challenged by frequent change. In response to this evolution, Agile software development is gaining a foothold in the software industry. Agile software development relies on iterations, collaboration between organizational functions and re-planning based on feedback from past iterations. Product development experts have suggested similar approaches to new product development in general. However, the adaptation rate has been faster in the software domain. This work studied knowledge transfer from Agile software development to product development involving other engineering disciplines. The research consisted of two parts, a case study and systematic literature review. The first part of the research was a case study in an industrial setting. The case project involved teams developing electronics and mechanics. The study identified that the project benefited from knowledge transfer from Agile software development. It resulted in accelerated learning, improved communication and higher commitment. The study also identified several challenges remaining in knowledge transfer, such as larger organizational change, documentation level and the need to adapt to engineering practices. As a second part of the research, a systematic literature review was conducted to find out what is currently known about the subject. The review found three common themes: co-design, testing and incremental hardware development. Extended collaboration between engineering disciplines was seen as important, but iterative development relying on experimentation needs new techniques for continuous testing. Despite the challenges, iterative hardware development is seen to be beneficial to system development projects. The synthesis part of the review identified an enforcing cycle between the three themes, resulting in diminishing difference between engineering disciplines. Based on the results, it is recommended to transfer knowledge from Agile software development to new product development in general. The knowledge available accelerates the adaptation rate to a more flexible approach to development. Furthermore, it was identified that the change in product development triggers a need for change in other functions of the organization, leading toward an Agile organization. The results from the studies were mapped to a conceptual framework on how an Agile organization works. During the study, several future research avenues were identified, such as how Agile Development affects the whole organization, the economics of frequent prototyping and engineering practices, particularly regarding test automation and integration with quality assurance approaches and processes such as CMMI and ISO 9001.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationLicentiate's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Lassenius, Casper, Supervising Professor
  • Lassenius, Casper, Thesis Advisor
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG3 Licentiate thesis


  • Agile
  • Scrum
  • New product development
  • Hardware development

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