Audi Software Development Center: Work agile. Live for teamwork. Move the future.
We create digital experiences
The Audi Software Development Center not only revolves around the development of web applications and smartphone apps - but also around the people we do this for. As part of the NEXT:IT strategy at Audi, we set new standards for agile software engineering. When you join our team, you will find the creative freedom, the right pairing partners and everything you need for customer-oriented software development.
Agile methods, strong mindset, one mission: Software Enabled Car Company
If you want to develop innovative software products and enjoy the freedom to choose the architecture, platforms or technologies yourself, you have come to the right place. Take a closer look at the SDC team's work environment here:
Motivated colleagues, open mindset, flexible methodology
work in pairing teams, XP, mob programming
Efficient working in line with LEAN/ MVP methods, DevOps
Individual freedom to make decisions within the team, personal growth
The right software and platform for every project
Flexibility in everyday life, thanks to a large number of additional services
More than the sum of its parts: the team
At the Audi Software Development Center, software developers, product managers and UX designers work as a vibrant and balanced team to ensure efficient and customer-focused software development. We combine the power of a small team with the resources of a large corporation. Find out what you can expect as a new team member here:
Enabler, gatekeeper, organizer: Product managers transform the specialist department's product vision into concrete needs (user stories) for a new software product, while taking the customer perspective into account. They make sure that the developers always know what to do next so that they can then code freely.
Focus on customer benefits
Max, product manager
In the SDC, the product manager is a central part of the teams. How exactly do you see your role?
Max: We strive to ensure that the developers can work as distraction-free as possible. When the developers code, they focus for hours on programming work and it's annoying for them when they get pulled out of it. It's one of our tasks to shield developers from such distractions.
But that alone doesn't describe the product manager, does it?
Director or translator would be fitting. The product owners have the vision of the product and know exactly in which direction something should go. Most of the time, however, they don't speak the same language as the developers. I have a computer background and write many user stories myself. I'm writing down the requirements of the product owners so that the developers can implement them. I don't provide a solution, but I'll describe in small parts what's being developed, what's going to bring benefit to our customers, and how to prioritize development.
There are many methods for how to organize work in a modern and efficient way. How do you work at the SDC?
To a large extent we work according to textbook, in our case this is extreme programming. In the lean environment, it is a matter of following methodologies that are supposed to support you. But actually, they don't prescribe anything. There's a lot to adjust. But of course, you can’t start to 'cherry pick' here. For example, we also do DevOps. Everything that is developed by us is also operated by us. Of course, this means that we also have to provide 24/7 support. I can't just leave that out because I don't like it.
In the SDC you work according to the model of pairing. How does this work in the case of product managers?
It's actually the first time I experience pairing. I didn't even know that in the product manager environment. It's sometimes exhausting because pairing can be very demanding. With a little bit time to adapt, however, all this works very well. The speed with which we work is incomprehensible compared to normal methods. A pleasant side effect is, for example, that last autumn I was on holiday for the first time in my career without a bad conscience. I was able to totally relax because I knew that someone was taking care of the work. The downside, however, is that it can be quite exhausting at times. You are in a quasi-permanent meeting with the pairing partner, which lasts the entire working day.
Product designer, market researcher, problem solver: UX designers integrate the user's perspective into the user story. They use tools from fields of user research and design to achieve the highest possible solution and customer focus in product development.
Try, learn, decide.
Teresa and Andrea, UX designers
Teresa and Andrea, you are UX designers at the Audi Software Development Center. Please describe what you do in the SDC. What is your role?
Teresa: UX Design consists of the core elements of research and design. The combination is also known as product design. We research how we can best support customers with solutions and represent the role of the user.
Andrea: We always take the first step in the project in the entire balanced team, consisting of product managers, developers and designers. Here we clarify together what problems a digital product should solve and what added value it offers to the user.
Teresa: First of all, we work out our target group and start giving the product a face. For this we derive assumptions or hypotheses from the available sources. These are then validated using individual interviews (“user tests”). Based on identified needs, the product is practically tailored to our customers.
How do the interviews work in practice? What influence do the results have on the product?
Andrea: We work agile according to the lean approach and thus receive prototypes very early on. We then test these with users in order to receive as much feedback as possible in the shortest possible time. This quickly shows whether our assumptions or hypotheses also correspond to reality and whether the product is understood by the user. The findings from the user tests flow directly into the product design and the prototype is continuously improved and further developed. The big advantage of this user-centered method: User testing is an important corrective that reduces the risk in the product development process to a minimum. This enables us to respond to changes flexibly, quickly and responsibly while ensuring simple, intuitive usability. Today, user research plays a crucial role in the development of successful digital products.
What distinguishes the work in the SDC? What makes it so special for you?
Andrea: The nice thing about the SDC is that everyone can contribute and develop their own skills and strengths in the team. The SDC attaches great importance to further training, development of potential and diversity. This is also reflected in the culture. At the same time, we have the freedom to do things ourselves again, to try them out, to learn and to decide. I am convinced that this is the right way to go if you want to continue to be innovative and competitive as a company. An open feedback and error culture is particularly important: In the SDC, we can make mistakes – the earlier the better. They are necessary to learn from them and to consistently improve.
What skills does someone have to bring with them if they want to work with you?
Teresa: Teamwork is essential. Working in a team makes me faster, more efficient and better. We always work in pairs thanks to the "pairing" method. And this second brain corrective is extremely important. As I said at the beginning, UX Design consists of research and design. I feel more at home in the research area. Andrea is a communication designer. Through our collaboration, we bring both components in and learn from each other.
Andrea: This type of collaboration requires a corresponding mindset and skills such as openness, honesty, curiosity, empathy, courage and the drive to learn new things. And one thing above all: serenity.
Navigator, coder, team player: Junior and senior software developers do not simply write code, they actively contribute to the design of the products. The creative and decisive freedom they enjoy in the process determines how Audi's digital services will be perceived in the future.
We shape how customers perceive Audi.
Eva and Max, software developers
Eva and Max, you have been working as software developers at the SDC for some time. How does someone have to adjust if they want to work here?
Max: At Audi in general, especially here in the SDC, the developer is not a 'code monkey'. The entire product team sees itself as an enabler and we have all the prerequisites to work as efficiently as possible. We enjoy a lot of freedom and make our own decisions.
Eva: The decisions we are allowed to make give us the feeling that we are really making a difference. We play an active role and shape how customers perceive Audi now and in the future.
What distinguishes an applicant who has good cards here at the SDC?
Eva: For the SDC, someone has to have the talent for programming, but not perfectly master three programming languages. Whoever accepts our feedback in the coding part of the application and directly implements it has good chances. We take a very close look at that.
Max: The social component is becoming increasingly important in our job profile. We are looking for colleagues who are not only technically strong, but also fit humanly into the team. We work so closely together that team play is simply necessary. An applicant can be technically really strong, but if he or she belongs to the type of lone fighter the application won’t be successfull.
You don't work alone, but use the pairing system. How do you feel about it?
Max: At first it's unusual because suddenly you have someone next to you all day. But then you quickly notice that pairing brings a lot of advantages - for you personally but also for the product. You work faster, more efficiently, the product quality increases and afterwards you find it strange to work alone again.
Engineers built cars 100 years ago. Are developers the new pioneers?
Max: I wouldn't call ourselves pioneers, but we are actively shaping the future of Audi. All systems and services that will inspire customers in the future and differentiate us from our competitors will come from us. For this we need the best talents who want to go on this exciting journey with us. This includes not only coding, but above all an eye for the wishes of the customer. That is the focus for us. The question that drives us is: How do we make sure that our customers experience their mobility needs with a wow effect? We only develop what the customer really wants and what creates added value for him. Audi builds great, beautiful cars, we develop the right software for them.
Office Leads Alex and Patrick
Our office leads Alex and Patrick exemplify the SDC mindset. It is their job to create an environment that allows all employees to develop to their maximum potential. They see themselves as the team' s supporters and protectors. As such, they keep everything unnecessary away from their employees so they can focus on their work. Through pairing, Alex and Patrick not only combine their strengths and increase quality, but also guarantee that someone is always there for the team.
The tech start-up of Audi IT
Alex and Patrick, in the traditional sense you would be called the bosses of the SDC. You both call yourself 'Office Leads'. How do you describe your role in the SDC?
Patrick: We distance ourselves very clearly from the classic leadership model of the 'old economy'. Our main concern is to help the team to continuously develop and optimize and to remove obstacles. In addition, like the teams, we act in this role as a pair, which allows us to combine our strengths and thereby achieve a very high quality of our work.
Alex: That also means a change in the company. So far there has been a link between department management, personnel management and project management. We don't have that here. We are there for the team. We support when there is a problem that colleagues cannot solve. But we stay largely out of project decisions.
Your employees appreciate that you shield them from all distractions.
Alex: Our product owners tell us that we are working at a very high pace. We therefore take great care to ensure that our employees are able to solve the upcoming challenges themselves. If you can do that, you can keep a cool head even with high demands and make good decisions without being stressed. We ensure the employees' ability to act, so to speak. It also means that we constantly evaluate ourselves.
Part of it seems to be pairing. Was that a new experience for you?
Patrick: I had already learned to appreciate pairing in my previous job in Silicon Valley and have not wanted to work in a classical setting since then. The advantages are unbeatable and the profit for the team, a lot of freedom and fun in the daily work, is clearly noticeable. One of us is always available and can help immediately. You don't have to wait days for an appointment with one of us.
Describe your carreers before the SDC, please. Patrick, you mentioned Silicon Valley.
Patrick: Before my time in the USA, I worked in a variety of classic roles in IT for many years. At that time I was already accompanying my teams with an alternative spirit. The time in Silicon Valley made me even more aware of how tech companies are becoming relevant players in disruptive digitization. Before returning to Germany it was very difficult for me to imagine that I would find my way back in a more classic structure. But when I saw the movement that is taking place at Audi in the SDC and throughout the Volkswagen Group, it was immediately clear to me that I would like to help shape it.
Alex: I've been with the company for three and a half years now. Before that I was in software engineering and helped build a startup. The growing together of classic industry and online services at Audi appealed to me. I've always loved the brand. An initiative has been developed at Audi to develop software internally again. That was the starting point of a development that eventually led to the Software Development Center.
How is the SDC embedded in the classic corporate structure?
Alex: The SDC is not an island, but connected to important areas. On the one hand there is Audi IT with NEXT: IT which offers the overall structure and a very progressive mindset. So we are a piece of the puzzle of the overall strategy. The Volkswagen Group also has SDCs in other locations, such as Berlin, Wolfsburg, Lisbon and in a few other cities. The developer community in the group is growing rapidly.
Are the entire project and your way of working your idea?
Alex: The procedure has long been standard in the tech industry. There is no need to reinvent everything. Our basic methodology is XP, so extreme programming. That was invented by Kent Beck. One of the foundations of XP is pair programming, where two engineers work on one task together. Two screens, two keyboards, two brains, one machine. That has many advantages. One of them is that it promotes learning. One of the two programmers always knows a subject better than the other. A kind of coaching takes place continuously. One of the two writes the code and the other thinks ahead and talks to the other. Through intensive communication, we experience an enormous transfer of knowledge. XP is based on values like communication, courage and respect, not so much on processes. Ultimately, a methodology is always a tool and you choose it based on what you want to achieve.
Patrick: What is important to us is what happens in the minds of the talent. What mindset do they have? What drives them? How good are they in self-organizing a team and making smart decisions? How well do they combine the strengths of the individual talents? If there are the right answers to these questions, the methodology becomes just a tool. I like to say about our team that we always stay 'beta'. If at some point we notice that the current method no longer works, then we may try something different. We love trying new things and experimenting. What is ultimately relevant is the mindset of the talents that shape the mindset of the team.
Is Audi an attractive employer for IT professionals?
Alex: Traditionally, our greatest competence is building the most beautiful and technically most advanced automobiles. That makes our company very attractive for engineers. The trend towards IT, connectivity and online services will significantly shape the industry in the coming years. We want to show that Audi is also an extremely attractive employer for IT professionals such as software developers, UX designers and product managers.