The Development Environment
Catena-X originated as an initiative of a group of companies under the title of the "Automotive Alliance" back in 2020, united by the vision of a secure and sovereign data ecosystem for all players in the value chains of automotive industry. The following year, numerous other companies joined the vision.
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action was also convinced by this vision. Today, the consortium of the project, funded by the Ministry, comprises 28 joint partners from research and industry with the common vision of a data-driven value network of all players in the German and European automotive industry. The signing of the cooperation agreement marked the birth of this first Catena-X consortium, which officially started work on 1st of August 2021. This makes the consortium the initiator of Catena-X as a whole as well as the incubator of the Catena-X ecosystem.
In addition to well-known car manufacturers and suppliers, cross-industry companies, IT specialists and research institutions, the core consortium includes small and medium-sized enterprises on an equal basis, whose requirements are incorporated into the development work right from the start of the project.
The vehicle industry is currently facing major upheavals and challenges. Data sharing across company boundaries is playing an increasingly important role. In order to support the cross-company use of data on the basis of GAIA-X, the Federal Government is providing an investment impulse for vehicle manufacturers and the supplier industry within the framework of programme 35c of the economic stimulus package.
Against this backdrop, the 28 collaborative partners are cooperating for the initial development of a data ecosystem and together form the Catena-X workbench, funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Action. The current joint project runs until 31st of July 2024 - further consortia can and should follow in the ongoing operation.
The actual development work takes place in the consortium: Concrete solutions are developed that will later be used by the relevant users. The focus here is on the development of technological foundations, such as the Eclipse Dataspace Connector and the Catena-X Portal, as well as concrete pilot applications. This is done along ten use cases, for which the consortium develops service offers with which companies can quickly derive concrete added value for their production or service. The consortium aims to publish initial project results in the form of MVPs as soon as possible. This has the advantage that the delivered (interim) results can be compared with the actual requirements in practice at an early stage.
What is developed in the workbench later undergoes certification by the Catena-X association before it goes into operation. Results from the consortium are also candidates for standardisation by the association.
Last but not least, the consortium plays an important role in the clear presentation and processing as well as the transfer of work content: This way, the results receive the necessary attention and dissemination to develop their impact and benefits on a wide scale.
The Catena-X consortium is not simply a classic research association with 28 individual companies, but a delivery organization that works together according to the SAFe® approach - why?
In developing a data ecosystem for the automotive industry within just three years, initially 28 companies and institutions are working with many other partners in a constantly expanding network and a constantly changing environment. Pioneering work is being done in many dimensions. This complexity and size of the Catena-X project can only be managed and controlled with an approach based on agile standards. For the Catena-X project, the choice fell on a scaled agile approach based on SAFe®. The SAFe® framework is the world's leading framework for business agility with over 20,000 implementations.
The advantages of agile methods for work and development are particularly valuable in the Catena-X project against this background:
utilisation of synergy potentials
management of dependencies
more efficient risk management
reacting quickly to changes in the current project, such as changing staff and new framework conditions
be able to react quickly at different levels
improve communication between different areas
involve target groups as early as possible, early target group feedback
The project partner BMW AG (Portfolio Management) is responsible for coordinating the subtasks of the overall Catena-X project. The task of the Portfolio Management is to coordinate the individual partners and to lead the Guidance Board.
Consortium leader and portfolio manager Oliver Ganser (BMW AG) coordinates and orchestrates the roadmap, planning and synchronisation for the overall achievement of the Catena-X goals as part of the portfolio management.
The project management is supported in this work by a project office (Agile PMO). In the structure of the SAFe® approach, the Guidance Board is the final instance of project control.
In the Catena-X environment, the Portfolio Manager represents the interface between the delivery project and the strategic higher portfolio level. He coordinates and is responsible for the overall orchestration of the portfolio, including central events and the prioritisation of the impediment backlog, and leads Enterprise Architects and the Agile PMO (APMO).
Management of the operating level
The operating activities of the Catena-X consortium are defined in the form of so-called Agile Release Trains (ARTs). An ART consists of several agile teams that develop, deliver and continue to operate solutions step by step in interaction with each other and with other Catena-X stakeholders.