The team currently has around 40 members, and that number could increase to as many as 70. The way they work resembles a startup company: fast, agile and customer-oriented. However, agile working does not mean noting the customer’s requirements and then disappearing into the cellar for six years before emerging with a finished product. “We hold intensive discussions with our customers because we need to understand what they actually need,” explained Kugel. During a series of ‘sprint’ phases usually lasting for a defined period of a few weeks, the team then creates a prototype relatively quickly before gathering feedback from the customer once more. The actual product development process does not start until a number of feedback loops have been completed to verify whether the product concept created really matches the customer’s needs.
Based on this approach, the team has developed digital products like ‘mtu Go Act’ and ‘mtu Go Manage’. These facilitate and safeguard communication between the operator of an mtu product, the mtu service organization and the mtu specialist. They also collate the data collected at a single location and help both the customer and our company to operate products more effectively.
“Our people here have an extremely positive mindset. Everyone is out to change something,” said Kugel, describing motivation within the group. The teams form themselves depending on the task in hand and the few hierarchies that exist are horizontal. “That doesn’t mean that agility can solve everything,” he acknowledged. For example, it would not be possible to completely develop a new energy system just in ‘sprints’. Nevertheless, the rapid feedback involved is especially useful for digital products. Once a design has been developed, the next task is to get all the other departments in the company involved, because the team needs the expertise available in the other specialist departments to develop the actual product. “We have an infrastructure that has grown up over decades. The big challenge is to harness it effectively,” said Schladt. Considering how infectious the enthusiasm of these two digitalists is, that should not prove too difficult.