Agile QM at DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung

DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH is a federally owned company organised under private law. With around 5600 employees at control centers in Langen, Bremen, Karlsruhe and Munich as well as towers at the 15 international commercial airports in Germany, DFS ensures that flights run punctually and safely.

Since 2017, DFS has been using viflow to set up and maintain a QM system. As part of the conversion of various business units to agility, the central QM has now also become agile.

We asked the QM team at DFS about the changeover:


DFS is switching to agility in more and more areas of the company. What were the motivations for making quality management agile as well?

On the one hand, some employees of central QM had been able to gain positive experience with the application of agile methods elsewhere (e.g., in working groups or projects) and brought this to the team. On the other hand, it was necessary to adapt the way of working to the reduction of available resources. We saw in the team – besides adjustments to the management system itself – the possibility to improve team performance by using agile methods.


How did you approach this project?

The whole thing started with a workshop in which agile principles were presented and discussed, and in which we looked for a way to use agile methods profitably for us. We always made sure that our approach was as simple and transparent as possible and that it was always adapted to our needs based on the experiences with the approach.


Were there any particular challenges and how did you overcome them?

Developing in the direction of agility also means developing your own mindset. To do this, it is necessary to talk to each other a lot, to discuss differences of opinion, and even to argue sometimes. You have to endure that. Also that each team member has his or her own pace.


What role does viflow play within agile quality management at DFS?

The ease of use of viflow and the graphical design options have helped us a lot in rebuilding the management system. Describing the processes using Turtles (viflow offers this possibility) supports us in presenting processes in a simple and transparent way.


What would you recommend to viflow users who also want to set up their QM in an agile way?

Communication and involvement of the whole team are essential when introducing agile methods. I can only recommend starting as simply as possible. Furthermore, the whole thing should be seen as the start of a development, whereby dogmatism and insistence on procedures are not good advisors. How the path develops depends on the team, the boundary conditions and many other elements, and that is why there is no standard way.


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