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Supporting Research the Agile Way

Thursday, April 2, 2015

With a $1.33 billion total budget, Stanford’s research program is one of the largest and best-funded in the world.
To support this large enterprise, University IT launched the Stanford Electronic Research Administration (SeRA) system in 2010 with the goal of automating and streamlining research administration on campus.
As the institutional system of record for sponsored projects, SeRA tracks the stages of the sponsored research project lifecycle from initial proposal to award closeout. The SeRA team has continued to build key functionality into the system over time using an Agile-based development model.
The Agile methodology — which emphasizes user engagement, collaboration, and process adaptability — has greatly enhanced the team's ability to quickly deliver new functionality and usability features. Instead of bundling new content into one large release (which may take multiple months to develop and test), system enhancements are routinely deployed every 10 to 12 weeks using Agile processes and workflows.   
In order to meet this aggressive development schedule, University IT collaborates closely with the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR), the Research Management Group (RMG), and the Dean of Research to prioritize system enhancement requests and determine release content. System enhancements are then planned, developed, and tested within the short release cycle — no small feat for such a complex system. 
University IT released the latest set of SeRA enhancements last month, offering a number of improvements for all users.  To learn more about the release and the SeRA system, visit the DoResearch website. For more about Agile methodologies, you can find resource links on the Stanford Web Services Blog

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