Question
Asked 16th Nov, 2012

Is anyone using Scrum in research projects at universities?

Scrum is an agile software development process widely accepted for project management in software and other product development. Any experiences with Scrum used in R&D projects at universities?

Most recent answer

23rd Apr, 2020
Helena Macedo
University of Minho

Popular Answers (1)

28th Jul, 2016
Enric Senabre
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Hi,
I think this is a very interesting and exciting topic. I'm a researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) and certified scrum master, with previous experience in adapting scrum and kanban for example in a large European project developing apps, where some partners were from the university.
I'm currently starting a research project about adoptions of Agile and design thinking for collaborative research. Here's more info: https://osf.io/zb9re/
And I have found some papers I list below about previous experiences adopting Scrum for research, but I'm also aware of more experiences which are probably not documented, I mean "below the radars". For example see this comment from Jeff Sutherland (one of the creators of Scrum) about big US research labs using Scrum: https://www.quora.com/Do-you-know-of-research-teams-adapting-Agile-frameworks-scrum-kanban-XP-etc-and-or-Design-Thinking-techniques-for-managing-research-projects
Some of the recent papers I found:
“Adapting and Using Scrum in a Software Research and Development Laboratory.” Accessed July 18, 2016. http://www.fsma.edu.br/si/edicao9/FSMA_SI_2012_1_Principal_2_en.pdf.
“Adapting Scrum to Managing a Research Group.” Accessed April 27, 2016. http://www.cs.umd.edu/~mwh/papers/score.pdf.
“Bridging the Gap between Research and Agile Practice: An Evolutionary Model.” International Journal of System Assurance Engineering and Management, April 9, 2015, 1–12. doi:10.1007/s13198-015-0355-5.
Ota, Martin. “Scrum in Research.” In Cooperative Design, Visualization, and Engineering, edited by Yuhua Luo, 109–16. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 6240. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2010. http://0-link.springer.com.cataleg.uoc.edu/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-16066-0_18.
“The Research of Healthcare Information Systems with Agile Development Method : A Case Study of a Medical Center.” Accessed July 19, 2016. http://etd.lib.nsysu.edu.tw/ETD-db/ETD-search/view_etd?URN=etd-0522116-135649.
8 Recommendations

All Answers (21)

9th Jan, 2013
Bernhard Dieber
Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH
Well scrum is very strict regarding team size and roles. Your team needs to have several members in order to work, and you need people acting as product owner and scrum master. I'd doubt that this matches typical research project setups
Furthermore you don't really have a customer on the other side. And scrum is focused on developing software, research work is so much more
Still, methods from agile development can in my experience help a lot in coordinating and streamlining research work. As an example, Kanban has proven to be an incredibly useful method for us. And in general, having a certain lean spirit in your work can help you being more efficient
So far my experience....It's a very interesting approach to bring SW development methods to research
1 Recommendation
15th May, 2013
Andreas Schroeder
Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich
I've made one very positive experience wrt. Scrum in R&D software development projects.
In the project I'm referring to, we used only very little of Scrum, though. As a matter of fact, we did not have the roles set up, no formal/regular meetings, and very few of the artifacts Scrum requires. We solely worked towards the monthly test deployment schedule, which provided us with a regular and concrete schedule for delivery and gathering feedback. Furthermore, we kept track of the issues we discovered in a kind of product backlog. These were the most powerful tools in my eyes - next to having a dedicated development team that wanted the project to be successful. That was the most important part of it all, obviously.
2 Recommendations
30th May, 2013
Tomo Popovic
University of Donja Gorica
@Andreas Schroeder: I think this is in full sync with Scrum as it promotes self-organized teams. You also have a time boxed sprint for providing the deliverable and observing the feedback. Issue tracking and using the product backlog for it is a bonus. I figure that "dedicated development team" also implies a very good cooperation and open discussions on a daily basis. It would be interesting to hear more experiences from others. It would help "tune" Scrum for research environments.
18th Mar, 2014
Deon Takpuie
University of Cape Town
Yeah, Scrum facilitates a lot of knowledge transfer in all of its ceremonies such as Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-Ups and Sprint Reviews. Scrum also allows early visibility of errors, as the Sprints are 1-4 week period, so implementation challenges are detected early. Also, Scrum allows the developers flexibility in what they want to commit to the client at the end of each sprint (Scrum is made up of a series of sprints, resulting in the final product), as they can select what they want to implement(usually the most urgent items).
18th Mar, 2014
Cristina Kadar
Neue Zürcher Zeitung
I believe one central translation/adaptation that needs to be done when adapting SCRUM from software development to research is the (re)definition of done.
While a product user story can be done once it is developed, tested, deployed and the the increment functionality is up and running, when could a research user story be accepted as done?
5 Recommendations
28th Jul, 2016
Ines Herrmann
Technische Universität Dresden
We recently used SCRUM in a 3D modelling class for media informatic students at Technische Universität Dresden, Germany, and are currently evaluating the implementation. Watch out for GeNeMe publications (Maurer, Münster et al.) on the project itself and the methodology. Also we are working on a paper to register results.
For now I can say, we had to make slight modifications of the framework and in general, even more modifications would be necessary for future projects like that. One should keep in mind that SCRUM is developed for software / webdesign engineering.
You should always look after what your projects and the students needs are. Do not just apply a framework because there is one and it has been shown it is effective in other settings.
Hope this helps. Also, thanks for the question, it's good to see there are others working on the topic. Get in touch if you have further questions or gained new insights yourself after all.
28th Jul, 2016
Ahmet Bilgili
I am working at Blue Brain Project, EPFL. We, "the visualization team", adopted scrum 3-4 years ago. Things were in a waterfall manner before. When we had started scrum, we tried to apply all the rules of it but, in research domain products, customers,  product owners are fuzzy and deadlines are more tentative. So, using Scrum is difficult. But we have adopted some of the topics, "Agile Planning - Not very detailed planning and we have a dash board", "User based story prioritization", "Demos", "Retrospective", "2 weeks sprints". We apply them and it is better than waterfall imho. 
I am also co-advising a PhD, so to plan his work we used planning, 1 month sprints. It worked well for where we are, what do we do next.
2 Recommendations
28th Jul, 2016
Enric Senabre
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Hi,
I think this is a very interesting and exciting topic. I'm a researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) and certified scrum master, with previous experience in adapting scrum and kanban for example in a large European project developing apps, where some partners were from the university.
I'm currently starting a research project about adoptions of Agile and design thinking for collaborative research. Here's more info: https://osf.io/zb9re/
And I have found some papers I list below about previous experiences adopting Scrum for research, but I'm also aware of more experiences which are probably not documented, I mean "below the radars". For example see this comment from Jeff Sutherland (one of the creators of Scrum) about big US research labs using Scrum: https://www.quora.com/Do-you-know-of-research-teams-adapting-Agile-frameworks-scrum-kanban-XP-etc-and-or-Design-Thinking-techniques-for-managing-research-projects
Some of the recent papers I found:
“Adapting and Using Scrum in a Software Research and Development Laboratory.” Accessed July 18, 2016. http://www.fsma.edu.br/si/edicao9/FSMA_SI_2012_1_Principal_2_en.pdf.
“Adapting Scrum to Managing a Research Group.” Accessed April 27, 2016. http://www.cs.umd.edu/~mwh/papers/score.pdf.
“Bridging the Gap between Research and Agile Practice: An Evolutionary Model.” International Journal of System Assurance Engineering and Management, April 9, 2015, 1–12. doi:10.1007/s13198-015-0355-5.
Ota, Martin. “Scrum in Research.” In Cooperative Design, Visualization, and Engineering, edited by Yuhua Luo, 109–16. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 6240. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2010. http://0-link.springer.com.cataleg.uoc.edu/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-16066-0_18.
“The Research of Healthcare Information Systems with Agile Development Method : A Case Study of a Medical Center.” Accessed July 19, 2016. http://etd.lib.nsysu.edu.tw/ETD-db/ETD-search/view_etd?URN=etd-0522116-135649.
8 Recommendations
1st Feb, 2019
Artur Vilas Boas Ribeiro
University of São Paulo
Thank you for you answer, Enric Senabre . We're trying to use Agile methods in R&D projects in Brazil and when the Research is highly academic, we don't have any method to foster agility. I think that the materials that you've posted here will help us a lot. I would love to know if you have found more interesting stuff in the past 3 years.
4th Mar, 2019
Thomáz Sátiro
Universidade Federal do Ceará
Any success in this implementation Artur Vilas Boas Ribeiro ?
4th Mar, 2019
Artur Vilas Boas Ribeiro
University of São Paulo
We're finding some good outcomes, such as an increase in the rate of delivering and cross pollination. At the same time, the challenges are governance (e.g.: it's hard to find project managers with the right skill set) and incentives. We have some papers under review for ICED2019 and there's more to come! Overall, it has been a positive experience.
1 Recommendation
24th Jul, 2019
Serena DeStefani
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
There are a few things out; I found a preprint from Lisa May and Tamara Runyon, a paper from Michael Hicks and Jeffrey S. Foster and a paper from David B. Ramos and others.
24th Jul, 2019
Mario Schroeder
IUBH – Internationale Hochschule
I am researching for a study about „Kaizen and scrum at the scientific process„
26th Jul, 2019
Martin Schmidt
Alexander von Humboldt: Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft
Is anyone interested in writing a collaborative blogpost on this? Most probably this could also be extended to a proper research paper... Just get in touch with me!
4th Jan, 2020
Maximilian Roßmann
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
I would be interested in exploring the possibilities of Scrum for Technology Assessment. Instead of developing software, we carry out studies and meta-studies on current social technology issues, for example in the context of nutrition, energy or mobility policy. Here, the stakeholders of research are the parliament, technical developers, or the public. User stories can be defined through discourse analysis and participation. Scrum could help to coordinate the interdisciplinary teams of a study and to better align the study review, modeling and reporting with stakeholder demands.
1 Recommendation
23rd Feb, 2020
Nagy Ramadan
Faculty of Graduate Studies for Statistical Research, Cairo University
We're trying to use Scrum in Graduation projects for students in Cairo University. We're finding some advantages, such as an increase in the rate of success of projects. At the same time, there are some challenges such as time and lack of experience.
16th Mar, 2020
Oscar Medina
National University of Technology
Yes, we are. This is one of this projects:
31st Mar, 2020
Sabbir M. Saleh
City University
@Tomo Popovic
I tried to do, you may find something here.
9th Apr, 2020
Souza R.C. F.
Federal University of Minas Gerais
Hello Tomo, I used in two classes seeking collective working and co-operation in urban projects. Despite many goods results in other experiments I´ve seem, the scrum´s caused an strangeness to the students. I am typing from Brasil, and here seems that Knowledge sciences (sociology, politics, economy are the motor to students regardless the result being a projectual job or not. This is a struggle that I will cope in the future. References: http://pq.arq.ufmg.br/projetos2
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