Addgene is a non-profit biorepository dedicated to facilitating scientific discoveries by operating a plasmid library for researchers. The repository contains over 57,000 plasmids contributed by more than 3,500 research labs around the world. Over a half million plasmids have been distributed to 85 countries by Addgene — with 11,000 plasmids currently shipping each month. By authenticating, storing, archiving, and distributing plasmids and their associated data, Addgene is creating a lasting resource for research and discovery scientists around the world.
We had a problem
Software plays a critical role in our ability to help scientists share biological research materials. We have created a searchable database that helps scientists select the best samples for their experiments. We have also developed our own custom software to handle all aspects of repository operations — such as online ordering, quality control, transportation compliance, and international customs.
Our customers are the scientists who use our services and internal employees who constantly suggest new ideas for making our processes more efficient. Previously, we lacked a formal prioritization process for these ideas. All requests went straight to our development team and were handled on a first-come, first-serve basis.
This was not a sustainable approach. We created a product management team to formalize the way work is prioritized. At the same time, we also implemented scrum and started using Jira to plan our work in sprints. This helped our development team to work in a more organized way — but there were still gaps in our product management processes.
Aha! as a solution
We implemented Aha! to give us a complete framework for long and short-term product planning. We needed a better way to define our bigger picture strategy and link it all the way through to execution.
We also wanted a tool that we could make our own. Jira is a great fit for our development team — but we found it frustrating to use for planning purposes. Aha! gives us the ability to zoom in to see the granular details and back out to see the bigger picture. We are also able to capture all of the custom information that is specific to our line of work and use our own lexicon.
The integration with Jira was also a must-have for us. It allows us to define epics and stories in Aha! and manage the implementation in Jira. Using both systems together lets each team work in the way that suits them best while staying in sync.
Life is good
Aha! covers all of our bases. The strategic vision gives us a place to think about the long-term direction of our products. This allows us to explore ideas that have not yet coalesced into specific initiatives. At the same time, we can plan short-term efforts that are already in the pipeline.
We evaluated a few other tools that claim to be for product managers, but they were very basic and lacked the functionality we needed. Aha! provides the right balance. The user experience makes it easy to build roadmaps and to analyze our product management information. We have barely scratched the surface of what Aha! can do yet — but it is clear that it addresses all of our current and future needs.