Presenter: Michael Podvinec & Joseph Pelrine

Objective(s) of the session:

We use Scrum to organize scientific research rather than software development in a bioinformatics group. In this experience report, you will learn how we mapped from one domain to the other, and what lessons we had to learn along the way… some of these could apply to your project, too


Reports about successes of Scrum outside the software development domain are few and far between, even though introductory courses often stress the general applicability of Scrum as a method. This is one such report.

We have introduced Scrum to a university bioinformatics research group. In this session, we want to share some insights gained from mapping Scrum from one world to another: From the commercial to the academic sector, and from software development to scientific research.

How can we map concepts like “increments of potentially executable functionality” to the science world, where the game is about publishing original ideas first, not shipping software? How can we bridge between the “one team, one product” ethos and the egocentric world of PhD students? How can we keep the spirit of scrum while adapting it to the requirements of biology research?

In this session, we’ll talk about how we first used Scrum successfully in a software project, and then used the momentum to establish Scrum as a tool also for research projects that have nothing to do with software development.We’ll also discuss the peculiarities and obstacles of the academic environment, and outline the transition (and necessary adaptations) to using Scrum in research, along with some surprise findings of similarities and discrepancies between the two worlds.

Format and length: Experience report with a little background and philosophizing added as condiments. Presentation, 45 minutes of presentation by speakers, remaining time open for discussion

Intended audience and prerequisites:

Scientists-turned-software developers, Scientists, anybody interested in experiences from applying Scrum in an unusual context