The Benefits of Agile,
the Needs of HW Development

An Overview of the MAHD Framework™

What Is the MAHD Framework?

The MAHD Framework is a flexible, agile-based product development process that:

  1. Can be scaled from managing simple projects to complex systems
  2. Manages the while product lifecycle from concept to end-of-life
  3. Supports agile product portfolio, innovation pipelines, and sustaining engineering
  4. Enhances and integrates with other systems such as Stage-gate, SAFe, Lean, and Six Sigma

While MAHD is rooted in the same agile principles that have fueled agile for SW growth, it integrates important elements needed to support hardware development efforts.

Agile Support for Devices to Systems

Agile principles can be applied to any project or process, but specific tactics, such as Scrum and SAFe, were designed for pure software-based products. The MAHD Framework is optimized for solutions that have physical components such as mechanical and electrical components but almost always include embedded firmware as well as software elements. 

  • Medical Devices & Systems
  • Automobiles & Compoenents
  • Robotics & Automation
  • Test Equipment
  • R&D Centers
  • Semiconductors & PCBs
  • Aviation Systems
  • Telecommunication Systems
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Industrial & Test Equipment

Five MAHD Principles:

The MAHD Framework provides agile methods and tools to build on five key pillars that are proven to deliver product development success. 

12 Agile Principles: Modified for HW

The agile manifesto identifies 12 principles that were written with SW in mind. While most of these are still valid for HW, they must be reconsidered to work for physical products. See our article on MAHD’s refinement of these 12 agile principles for HW. 

Early, Clear Strategic Vision

Critical for hardware teams is the ability to consider the needs of the whole project including strategic priorities to guide decisions and Iteration Planning.

Empowered Teams

The principle of giving teams the autonomy to drive decisions while being accountable for results, self-correction and communication.

Deep Customer Insight

The acknowledgement that only when customers see and experience your solution can they provide meaningful input.

Rapid (IPAC) Learning Cycles

The principle that short execution and learning cycles allow teams to focus on the most important and valuable project elements while allowing adaption to changing requirements and project needs.

Execution Excellence

Giving teams the tools and methods to focus, meet commitments, collaborate and consistently deliver their best work in the most efficient way possible.

Download MAHD Overview

Learn about the benefits, key features and what’s unique in this 6-page overview of the MAHD Framework.

How Can Agile Work for Hardware?

Teams that attempt to apply agile methodologies like Scrum directly to hardware development often become frustrated. This is because hardware features cannot be easily expressed as user stories, lead times require extensive forward planning, and products must be completed on a strict schedule.

The MAHD Framework was designed specifically to adhere to agile principles but modify the tactics to manage the unique, and often more constrained, characteristics of hardware development. MAHD methods incorporate the needs of physical products to:

  • Align sub-components and disciplines such as electrical, mechanical, and software

  • Allow flexibility to adapt to changes, while identifying attributes that need to freeze

  • Develop prototyping and validation strategies that work for hardware

  • Incorporate support functions such as procurement as well as external partners

  • Manage risk while maturing the design, documentation, and quality plans

A Brief History of MAHD

The MAHD Framework was first created by Dorian Simpson and Gary Hinkle, who combined have over 50 years of experience in developing both hardware and software products. Through collaborations with product leaders from various companies, the framework has been continually improved and refined to cater specifically to hardware-based products and systems. While all contributors recognize the advantages of agile methodologies, they also acknowledge the need for modifications in tactics for such products.

Some of the considerations built into the MAHD Framework: 

  • It must not only support principles but stimulate an agile mindset
  • It must be practical and straightforward for teams to learn and apply
  • It must be flexible for any type of product or service project

An Overview of the MAHD Framework

The MAHD Framework has at its core the elements to successful execute agile projects from vision to launch and additional elements can be added to transform your whole company to become an agile organization. By following the MAHD Implementation Roadmap your organization can quickly build agile skills to deliver products faster with higher value.

How's MAHD Different?

The table below summarizes the differences between the Modified Agile for Hardware Development (MAHD) Framework and other common Agile-based processes.  The primary difference is that while MAHD applies Agile principles, the tactics are designed specifically to meet the needs of physical products. 

Learn More About MAHD

Download the Introduction to MAHD E-book to learn about the key elements of the MAHD Framework  including how to initiate projects, the MAHD On-ramp and tips to get started going MAHD.

Is MAHD Right For You?

The fastest way to learn if MAHD is right for you is to request a 45-minute overview and discussion of your situation. Whether you currently use Stage-Gate, Lean, SAFe or other methods, we can help you quickly learn the unique benefits of the MAHD Framework.