Sennheiser Relies on Helix ALM to Accelerate Its Compliance Management and Agile Processes
Since 2007, Sennheiser has relied on Helix ALM (formerly TestTrack) to accelerate the development-to-release process, automate compliance reporting, and support their transition to Agile development. The company has been able to develop increasingly innovative, complex products due to Helix ALM’s unique data model and ability to link all requirements, test cases, test runs, and defects for their globally distributed development teams.
Accelerated Development-To-Release Process With Helix ALM
Helps Sennheiser stay compliant with industry regulations from around the world.
Ability to respond faster to the needs of the customers by establishing stable, self-organized teams.
No more delays or accidental deletions of key product data with real-time, multi-user access.
“Project quality managers and testers love the possibilities to create test cases and document the results of repeated tests in test runs. Reporting capabilities for test campaigns are also appreciated.”
Sennheiser Develops Audio Products
Sennheiser is a world leader in quality audio products. Founded in 1945, Sennheiser develops and manufactures innovative headphones, microphones, and wireless transmission systems. The company is active in more than 50 countries and operates its own production facilities in Germany, Ireland, and the United States. Sennheiser has hundreds of developers focused on continuously transforming their audio products.
But They Managed Workflows in Excel
Prior to 2007, Sennheiser was using “pencil and paper” and Excel spreadsheets for issue tracking across their software and hardware development processes. This slow, manual method had several flaws, including:
- It was prone to error and data being accidentally deleted.
- It made workflow management difficult.
- It hindered traceability.
- It limited access to one user at a time.
In addition to managing issues in Excel, the Sennheiser team also had to manage requirements and test cases manually. They needed a more efficient, transparent workflow, and something stronger than spreadsheets to overcome the problems in their development process.
Adding Helix ALM Made Development Better
- Automatic traceability of entire development process
- Accelerated development due to multi-user access to all project data
- Simplified management of multi-technology products
- Automated compliance management and reporting
- Support for Agile teams – both software and hardware development
Sennheiser originally adopted Helix IM (then called TestTrack Pro) to improve their issue tracking and bug reporting capabilities. Prior to Helix IM, issues were assigned verbally, either in meetings or over the phone. Once Helix IM was in place, the issue could be assigned to a developer or product manager, and the progress on fixing that issue could be tracked. At any given moment, everyone on the team could see who was working on what issue, and get an overview of the workflow state of all issues.
Helix IM also allowed outside development partners working with Sennheiser to access the project database, improving the workflow and information exchange with these distributed teams.
As their needs grew, Sennheiser added Helix TCM for test case management, and then Helix RM for requirements management. Today, the Sennheiser team has all the benefits and end-to-end development cycle coverage that the full Helix ALM suite offers. Not only does Helix ALM cover their software development, but it also extends into their hardware development process.
Meeting Compliance Requirements Is Easy
Helix ALM also helps Sennheiser stay compliant with industry regulations from around the world. Because the company makes wireless audio products, they must comply with several countries’ regulations regarding signal interference, electromagnetic compatibility, and other safety concerns. It requires a substantial amount of work to track compliance with all applicable regulations of the various international markets Sennheiser serves, not to mention getting products certified for those markets.
The Sennheiser team manages all these compliance requirements in Helix ALM. Compliance, development, and safety and assurance teams now have a better overview of the risks and regulatory concerns they must address. They can also look up what measures were taken on previous projects, and can easily find the details they need. And because Helix ALM automatically links all project artifacts, traceability is much easier.
Adopting Agile Gave Them An Edge
A few years ago, Sennheiser began to explore Agile development methods, and they are moving more in that direction today. The company’s goal in moving to Agile is to be able to respond faster to the needs of the customers by establishing stable, self-organized teams with all the required product expertise.
The Agile transition has happened in phases, starting with a pilot project that involved an Agile coach. Once the initial project was successfully completed, the lessons learned and best practices were passed on to other Agile teams.
Now, the company has “quite a growing number of Agile projects.” The teams working on those projects find Helix ALM well suited for Agile because it allows them to manage and view the status of stories, tasks, and defects in one tool.
It’s on these Agile projects that Helix ALM’s requirements management module, Helix RM, is heavily used. Sennheiser’s system engineers use Helix RM to manage technical requirements of complex, multi-technology products, such as the company’s TeamConnect Wireless system.
TeamConnect Wireless is Sennheiser’s conferencing solution that provides improved speech intelligibility for better and more effective online meetings. Because it can connect with any smartphone, tablet, or PC, it combines several of Sennheiser’s key technologies for wireless connectivity, wired connectivity, microphones, speakers — and the software to make it all work together. The product complexity resulted in hundreds of technical requirements.
On projects like TeamConnect Wireless, where there are a multitude of features, Sennheiser’s teams write the requirements as user stories in a Helix RM document, which is used as an epic. In Helix RM’s folder view, a “Story Backlog” folder is created, where the stories are listed and ranked according to their priority. This folder view also contains sprint folders (one folder for each sprint) to store the stories that will be worked on during the respective sprint. Reports like burndown chart can be generated automatically to indicate the progress within the sprint.
You Can Be Like Sennheiser
Prior to 2007, when the team was using Excel and a Waterfall methodology, the TeamConnect Wireless project would have been nearly impossible to manage. With Helix ALM, Sennheiser’s team can be more Agile, enabling them to easily handle more complex product development.
Not only that, but Sennheiser’s workflow is now more efficient and transparent, and they have automatic, end-to-end traceability of their entire product development lifecycle. Because Helix ALM allows real-time, multi-user access to the project data, there are no more delays or accidental deletions of key product data.
Helix ALM made it easier for Sennheiser’s team to manage the development of increasingly complex, multi-technology products — and maintain their place as one of the leading innovators of audio technology.