Agile at Solar Car Race

Istanbul Technical University Solar Car Team is a team made up completely of students who participate in solar car races. The team consists of 30 ITU students. They voluntarily put their hearts and efforts into being the champion of solar car races while getting through their undergraduate studies. Their goal is to promote and educate the use of clean energy. They have participated in the World Solar Challenge in Australia and in the ESC – European Solar Challenge in South Africa. As the biggest solar car racing team in Turkey, their project plans are mainly based on one target: Participation in the World Solar Challenge- a road race in which participating vehicles can only use solar power for motion – using the power of innovation, and complete it successfully with the highest yield. They have strong competitors who have extensive and detailed project plans and who are highly motivated to move forward. 

Each of these brilliant students works like a professional and takes their job quite seriously. As the agile42 Turkey team, we really appreciated their ambition and belief in themselves to put in their best effort. Their enthusiasm for continuous learning and improvement really impressed us. That is why we have decided to support them.

We have started with Agile training and aligned their knowledge to be a Scrum team. Following the training, we had coaching sessions to start their Sprints. We started with 5 Agile teams that worked on “Mechanical”, ”Advanced Driving and Strategy”, ”Power Systems”, ”Embedded Systems” and “Production and Composite Systems”. Those five teams were aligned with Scrum values and principles and they adopted the new way of working at a high speed.

Now they are working with Scaled Agile with 5 teams interconnecting each other.

 As we worked with them, we saw that Scrum fitted their structure very well because their environment and working conditions were full of challenges and complexity. They are already conscious of Agile values and are progressing with solid steps on their way to achieve success.

In the words of the ITU Solar Car Team

«In order to increase our productivity and efficiency in our team, we needed to alter our work-flow. ITU Solar Car Team has several teams to work together and we were facing problems with planning work to be done or to be able to follow-up whole plans effectively. Depending on the research we have completed, we came across the Agile-Scrum framework. We had a talk with two agile42 Turkey coaches Ayşe Turunç and Ebru Yalçınkaya, and they agreed to support us without expecting anything in return. We have taken the Agile course to provide the core of Agile principles and applications.

The Scrum Method completely fits our team structure, and we finally have a chance to follow up on our workflow and productivity. We have started to consider the teams’ performance instead of individual performances and are moving forward as a result of this perspective, and we have increased our productivity.

Even though the tasks we completed are built-in, we are conscious of the teams performing. Every team has the authority of deciding which path to go. This plays a significant role when we create our Sprints. By starting to use Scrum, we do not have to spend time on lengthy meetings. With the daily stand-up’s, everybody asks several questions and communicates effectively, it only takes fifteen minutes. Daily stand-ups sped up our process a lot and most importantly, they increased productivity. These meetings should be finished in fifteen minutes; gives a chance to observe each task’s current situation and helps to figure out if there is a need to help other team members.

We get quick feedback when the sprints finish before a particular task proceeds in the wrong direction for weeks, even months. Before, when the task was finished, it could have been too late to fix the problems. Scrum helps us to detect possible outcomes while the process continues. Early detection is important, getting earlier feedback of our items enables the early detection. Then we have a chance to overhaul. 

All of the teams are using a Kanban board in order to visualize and focus on their work. Tasks are divided into three main layers: To-Do, Progress, Done. Also, these To-Do’s are assigned to the members of the team. Thanks to this system, we can easily observe who takes part in a particular task. 

Our Scrum transformation is ongoing and our production process becomes more efficient and our teams have a higher motivation to do the best. Thank you, agile42 family – Ayşe Turunç, Ebru Yalçınkaya and Figen Yalçınkaya – for all of the inspiration that you have given us!»