Knowledge Center

Agile Software Development for Life Sciences

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” – Morpheus, The Matrix, 1999


Agile development models and techniques are in increasing use in software development. These techniques may be considered one of the most important people- or management-related technologies of the last decade. We have witnessed huge gains in productivity, quality, schedule reliability, and development team credibility when development teams have heeded our advice to switch – even if partially – from older waterfall development processes to more agile processes. But there is one industry that, developmentally speaking, still lives almost entirely in the dark ages dominated by waterfall thinking – the Life Sciences industry.

It is not hard to understand why, really. This industry is heavily regulated by one of the largest regulatory agencies in the world: the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although it is true that government agencies are not known for their innovation or for riding on the leading edge of technology or management theory, we can get much more specific as to why Life Sciences companies have remained behind this crucial part of the technology curve.

We have every reason to believe that the adoption of Agile techniques by the Life Sciences industry is an idea whose time has come. If you are developing software in an industry that is regulated by the FDA, we are quite certain that once you experience the productivity and quality gains that we have seen in other industries, you will agree. In fact, we believe that you will go way beyond mere agreement. Your thinking about development, quality, and productivity will be irreversibly changed for the better.

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