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SafeScrum is a method that applies agile software development principles to safety standards like IEC 61508. Developed by SINTEF and NTNU, SafeScrum is currently undergoing testing in research projects in Norway.

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SafeScrum Logo

The SafeScrum idea

The SafeScrum idea came up when safety experts met an agile expert in 2011. We remember well the two postings we published in the SCSC Newsletters in 2013 and 2014 which resulted in several comments on the SafeScrum approach. The publications helped us improve the process and convinced us that it was a good idea to develop SafeScrum further.

SafeScrum is registered as a trademark

We developed SafeScrum further as part of the SUSS project in the period 2013-2018. (Norwegian: Smidig utvikling av Sikkerhetskritisk Software. English: Agile development of safety-critical software). To emphasize the seriousness and dedication to this agile approach, SafeScrum was registered as a trademark in 2015.

Certified according to IEC 61508

SafeScrum was developed to be used in the development of a safety system that had to be certified according to IEC 61508. We discussed this approach with several certification bodies, and in 2015, they informed us that they would accept such an approach. At the same time, we presented SafeScrum and agile development in general at IEC 61508 committee meetings. At the first two meetings, a few experts were against this approach but already in 2015, the agile approach was accepted. As a result, the next edition of IEC 61508 includes more requirements, e.g., regression tests and mention incremental development.

SafeScrum book

We finally succeeded in issuing the SafeScrum book in 2018. At the same time, we learned that issuing safety cases included several challenges and resulted in delays. In some projects, the manufacturer issued the safety case up to six months after writing the last code. To be agile, we had to include this as part of the certification process. With support from authorities, operators and manufacturers, we issued The Agile Safety Case in 2018. We learned that an agile mindset should be included as part of the development project from day one when starting new projects. We then included all safety phases and adapted several agile practices to regulated domains, including the automotive domain.

Functional safety and proof of compliance

Students learn agile methods at universities, but just a few learn about safety-critical software development and the required certification. To ensure that they have a knowledge basis, we developed another book: Functional safety and proof of compliance. This book was issued in 2021. In 2020 and 2021, we started to include new security and DevOps (Development and Operation) projects into the SafeScrum approach.


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