VAIVA GmbH - Safe Mobility


How expressive specialists form a unit – the T4 team

Theresa Ley,

The T4 team around Gerald is characterized by its unique diversity. Outstanding specialists, a wide range of tasks and expressive personalities form a unit that cannot be found anywhere else at VAIVA. In the team presentation, we explain how important “processes, methods & quality” are for VAIVA’s success and why this is everyone’s business.

Hardly any other team brings together as many different expert roles and task spectrums as T4. What at first glance looks like a group of lone wolves quickly turns out to be the opposite. T4 has the kind of togetherness we all want. So it’s worth taking a closer look. Not just at the team structure, but above all at the tasks. For some people, the background to processes and methods may seem puzzling. A field that exists, but is not clearly defined. Is it just the (supposedly) less glamorous side of development? Let’s dare to change our perspective and get carried away. Because it becomes clear how passionate each individual team member is about their role and how these individuals form a unit.

A unit that sees itself as a team despite or precisely because of the different tasks, supports each other, develops ideas together, works hand in hand and allows everyone to shine with their expertise. This not only applies within the team. They also see themselves in this way externally in their cooperation with the projects. As supporters of development by creating development processes and guidelines or to avoid too many development loops. This understanding unites all team members. We want to introduce you to the T4 and show you why their work is so essential to our success.

As VAIVA, we pursue a great mission that makes us stand up and give our best every day: to make Vision Zero a reality. We contribute to this with our functions and services. It is not just a vision, but an incentive and motivation. However, as visions are not very tangible, it is all the more important that we use measurable criteria to assess whether we are getting closer to this goal. Every function developed should not just work. It should also work at the right time and in the right situation. All system components must work together perfectly. The aim of functional safety is to guarantee this. So nothing is left to chance here, and one person who has internalized this like no other is our Functional Safety Manager Soufiane: “The path to achieving Vision Zero automatically leads to ever higher ASIL levels. Functional safety is therefore a direct outcome of our vision.” But one thing is even more important to Soufiane and you can feel it in every sentence he says. He doesn’t want to be a lone warrior and makes it clear: “Functional safety concerns us all and everyone must play their part.” And that brings us to the prejudice that functional safety is a nuisance and a hurdle that others will take care of. Unfortunately, this only leads to more problems. Soufiane can’t do much with this cliché anyway. He draws his enthusiasm for functional safety precisely from the great mission that we are all pursuing. And great things can only be achieved together. With a well-planned project from the outset, in which risks to functional safety are directly identified, many things can be avoided. “If you cut corners here, you have created your own bottleneck. This is often the real source of all subsequent problems. No matter how well-developed the code, no matter how sophisticated and detailed the functional design, it is only through functional safety that it takes on its true meaning,” says Soufiane, conveying an image of complete perfection. Soufiane feels and appreciates the urge to establish a strong and vibrant safety culture at VAIVA. Even if, or perhaps precisely because, the journey is not yet over.

But knowing where we want to go is only the first step. Because the how is also important. Standards span all areas of T4 like a large net. It is precisely these standards that show the how and the processes and methods tailored to them that make it possible to get there as smoothly as possible. This is exactly where our principals Matthias and Stefanie come in. They define processes, roles and activities and draw up checklists, guidelines and templates. Tailor-made is the key word here. Everything is individually tailored to the project in question. They occupy a relatively new role at VAIVA. “It’s not so easy to work on ideas for improving and developing processes in the middle of the day-to-day project business. I have now gained this freedom with the Principal role,” says Stefanie and, conversely, something can also be given back to the projects. Matthias and Stefanie see processes, methods and tools as tools that they want to provide to the projects: “This allows us to focus completely on development. However, feedback from the projects is also immensely important to us.” Process development is not a one-way street. Everything has to prove itself in practice and undergo a reality check. “Our knowledge shouldn’t be hidden away in an ivory tower, but spread widely throughout the entire company,” says Matthias, summarizing the interaction. There is no trace of dry and overly theoretical process work with Matthias and Stefanie. If you want to avoid annoying misunderstandings and loss of knowledge, you automatically become a documentation fan. Standards and norms may put some people off, but for our principals they are confirmation that you don’t always have to reinvent the world. Getting involved is probably the bigger hurdle. My wish for the future of this expert role: to be involved in the project right from the start. Don’t just call in the tailors when the button is already tight, but get advice from the tailoring department right from the start.

But advisory can do even more. For example, as a new pillar for VAIVA. Volker and Karina are playing a key role in this step. Learning from the best, sharing knowledge and exchanging experiences – what works excellently for our own projects can also work for customers. Using our experience in process development to enable others to contribute to Vision Zero in the automotive world is what motivates advisory of processes and methods. But Karina and Volker have also discovered a very personal fascination with process development. The creativity involved in making an idea so tangible that it can be applied as a process and thus provides orientation. Although processes and methods ensure a quality standard that should be sufficient motivation in a world of safety-relevant functions, sometimes it still takes a lot of convincing to convince the other party to use processes. “When it ultimately comes to the safety of life and limb, it is not superfluous to assess and reduce the risk potential with supposedly tedious documentation. It’s actually a negative motivation,” says Volker, making the necessity tangible. Nobody wants to be involved in an accident because they have relied on their vehicle and it has not kept its promise of safety. This creates a responsibility not only for our process developers, safety managers and quality assurance officers, but also for each individual developer and tester. For Volker, it’s like cooking: “A soup tastes particularly good when everyone knows what’s in it. But only those who know the recipe can reproduce the quality. That’s why we always need quality offensives.” Training is immensely important in order to lower the inhibition threshold and demonstrate the benefits of the continuous application of processes. Advisory thrives on mutual exchange, regardless of whether it’s about experience reports from customers or colleagues. APM, for example, remains a living model and is constantly being improved, developed and adapted to real-life circumstances. In the end, positive feedback from the customer is not only a reward for our own commitment, but also confirmation of the entire process development at VAIVA.

If you want to convince others of your development processes, you have to set high standards for yourself. Maintaining and improving quality is the goal of quality assurance, both in terms of products and processes. Even the best project planning and establishment of processes is useless if the plan is not followed. Reviews, checklists, risk assessments and release management help to stay on track and take countermeasures in good time. This requires an external perspective. Quality assurance responsibles, such as Vjo and Robert, are independent of the project. This is provided for by law and is intended to provide scope for escalation. But in the best case scenario, it shouldn’t come to that. The desire to be involved from the outset runs like a red thread through T4. Not to be seen as an annoying evil, but as a point of contact for the smoothest and most efficient course of the project. Because regulated structures make development easier. “The initial effort is higher, but the end result is a better product,” Vjo sums it up. “Transparency is important. Within a regulated process, not only does everyone know the expectations, but a transparent approach also prevents delays in approvals,” adds Robert. Acting independently does not mean being isolated. It’s about working together. Even a quality expert doesn’t enjoy just pointing the finger in the wound. It’s about finding a consensus and supporting the projects.

And there it is again, the common ground that binds the T4 team together. The desire not to be the fire department that only goes out when there is a fire, but to be the point of contact right from the start. Sooner or later, all specialist roles interlock. Expressive personalities who have high expectations of themselves and the team. They complement each other with their professional expertise and diversity and thus pull together.

Team leader Gerald is characterized by the fact that he manages to keep this team of specialists together. He knows exactly which head has which knowledge. Who never loses sight of the big picture. Who recognizes that everyone in the team pulls together and helps each other. Who knows about the special nature of their team structure. And who is happy that all team members think and act in this way.

In conclusion, the following insight remains: everything in the team and in VAIVA is interwoven via processes and methods and functional safety is like a well-lit highway to the project goal. And what applies to T4 also applies to VAIVA: the road to success is easier to travel together.