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Creating value through software development

Apr 28. 2017 

Software development has traditionally been outsourced, but today the activity is becoming a much more attractive proposition for in-house teams at Thales’s avionics business. Radical changes in approach have opened up new opportunities. Software developers are embracing new working methods and learning new skills — and productivity has jumped by almost 30%.

It all started with the I-Swarm project, launched in 2013 at the former Le Haillan site. Co-funded by the Aquitaine regional council, the I-Swarm project aimed to create a more innovative, future-focused working environment, with new processes inspired by Lean/Agile methods.

Software solutions are becoming increasingly integrated and open to the outside world, and iterative or incremental development is gaining ground on traditional waterfall models. At the same time, new software architectures are emerging around the concept of common cores. It has become more important than ever for software teams and systems teams to work together in a more interactive and integrated approach — and this was the reasoning behind the I-Swarm project.

Innovation and efficiency

“I-Swarm has been a real driver of transformation for the software function,” says Thierry Lejeune, head of software for Thales's avionics business. “We set out to create value by making our software solutions more attractive, and that has meant developing a culture of intrapreneurship and encouraging everyone to think creatively, take risks and bounce ideas off other people.”

Today, the software department has embraced the concept of Management 3.0, where managers no longer just give orders but act as coaches, supporting software teams and helping them achieve their goals. Visual management boards and stand-up meetings are routinely used to share information in real time.

“These changes have been extremely positive,” concludes Thierry. “We’re operating much more like a start-up, placing people at the heart of everything we do. We’re promoting interaction, innovating more and working faster. We've built up a tremendous amount of momentum, and we aim to keep pressing ahead in this direction!”

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