TrustRadius
Birst Review 81 of 95
Birst Review: "A Great Product with Even Better Customer Service"
https://www.trustradius.com/business-intelligence-biBirstUnspecified6.8178101
Brett Mooberry profile photo
Updated November 12, 2014

Birst Review: "A Great Product with Even Better Customer Service"

Score 10 out of 101
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version
Appliance

Overall Satisfaction with Birst

  • Report building is quick and easy.
  • Creating a data model for a reporting structure and data warehouse is easy.
  • Our users can access it whenever they want, whenever they want using either a computer or iPad.
  • Birst seems like it can do almost anything either myself or the users can think of. When my users ask me for things I don't know how to do, I typically just say "sure", assuming that it's possible and that I'll figure it out. I'm sure this will come back to bite me one of these days, but it hasn't yet.
  • There were a number of "quality of life" issues, I'll call them, when we first got started on the Appliance version - for example, upgrading was very clunky. Those issues have been cleaned up and I have no complaints about them now. Birst seems to do a really good job of listening to their customers and giving them what they want.
  • The Birst Mobile iPad app doesn't have the full functionality of the browser-based version, but I understand that this is being fixed with HTML 5. In fact it may already be fixed - I know that some of the HTML 5 implementation is done, but I'm waiting for it to be fully in place before making the switch.
It came down to QlikView, Tableau, Cognos, and Birst. QlikView and Tableau were eliminated because they are simply reporting tools, and it was eventually determined that we wanted to set up a data warehouse. Birst beat Cognos because it had nicer looking reports, was much easier to use, and was *much* cheaper.
It does everything we need it to and more at a very reasonable price. The customer service is excellent and well worth the money.
I am a huge fan of Birst. Their product is great, but what really impresses me is their customer service. I was very impressed by how committed and able they were to completely turn the project around like they did. We are a small client who is pretty inconsequential on their balance sheet, but I sure don't feel like it when I talk to and work with them. And that, in my own personal opinion, is what makes a company great.

Using Birst

20 - The end users are predominately Executives, Managers, and Team Leaders. I'm the only person who maintains Birst, writes the reports, etc.
1 - I'm the Birst guy. I take care of the back end stuff, build/modify the data model, create reports, build dashboards, make sure it has plenty of food and water, etc.

Only having one person to do all of this is probably wouldn't work for larger companies with a bunch of different databases, but it works great for a smaller company like ours with only one database that we have tying into Birst.
  • Managing reports is so much easier now. The time it takes me to put out our scheduled reports is basically zero now, and they all have visualization, which was too much work to do on every report before.
  • Ad hoc reporting has become much easier as well. Often times when I've made ad hocs in the past, I get asked to make them again with different date ranges, etc., either right then or a few weeks/months later. With Birst, users can select their own data ranges and chart types for the reports I build them, as well as bring in additional metrics or swap out existing metrics. Without going into too much detail, users can do this in a way where the changes are temporary and only visible to them, or by changing the report itself, depending on the permissions you want to give users. The point is that unlike before, I typically only have to do a report once and the users are empowered to make whatever minor changes to it they want, saving me time and getting them their results faster.
  • Birst makes data warehousing easy. I don't have any sort of previous training or experience when it comes to data warehouses. After a few conversations with Birst tech support and a couple classes they offer, I'm building out a data warehouse by myself, and it's going fairly well. Our Customer Success Manager is also great about getting me the help I need when I run into issues I can't figure out.
  • For a company with less than 100 people like ours, having one person able to totally manage the data warehouse and reporting, and still have time for other things is huge.

Evaluating Birst and Competitors

Birst is our first reporting and data warehousing tool. Prior to Birst, our reports were Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, populated by data from SSRS reports. We did not have a data warehouse prior to Birst.

Birst Implementation

Our initial implementation was rocky. Without writing a novel, there were a few main issues. The professional services company was decent, but not great. We also did not have adequate resources on our end to provide the services company what they needed (an expert on our database, etc.). As the project manager, I definitely tried to do too much with the initial implementation and was very guilty of "chasing squirrels", as I've heard it called. All of this lead to us running out of professional services hours we had paid for, without a working product.

After that unsuccessful first attempt, Birst sat on the shelf for a bit before we got our new (and current) CSM. He called us to see how things were going. After learning that the product wasn't in use and how poorly our first go at it went, he bent over backwards to get us up and running, first with spreadsheets, and then with our database, all at no additional charge to us. Combine this with the training I've received, and we've got a working product up and running without the use of a professional services company. We are definitely one of their smaller clients, and I was surprised at how much work they put into turning the project around for us.
  • Implemented in-house
  • Professional services company
The professional services company used was Cervello.

Birst Training

  • In-person training
  • Self-taught
I went to their annual user conference (Birst Forward) and their standard training class (Birst Boot Camp) this year, and both were excellent. Very educational, and I got all of the personal attention I needed to get my questions about my specific answered. I've also reached out to the trainers after those events to ask more questions, and they've been great about getting back to me with answers.
A big mistake we made in our initial implementation was not getting me any training on it. The product is intuitive and I did figure out a great deal on my own, but there's really no substitute for formal training with these sorts of things. As I've said before, I have no experience in this area, so maybe somebody used to this sort of thing wouldn't need the training as much as I did, but even then I would recommend getting the training anyway. Being able to network with other customers and various Birst employees is enough to justify the cost, let alone what you'll actually learn.

Birst Support

Our Customer Success Manager does a great job of getting me what I need in a timely manner, and their tech support is friendly and competent. Sometimes when I submit minor issues to tech support, they go unanswered for a while, which is why I'm not giving a perfect 10 (serious issues get answered immediately). I'd take off another point or 2 for this, but our CSM notices when this happens without me having to say anything to him and tracks down the answers for me himself.

I wish this question was split into 2. Customer Service would get an easy 10/10.
No - I don't believe they have different tiers of support.

Using Birst

Having no background with this kind of program, I've found it to be a very intuitive piece of software; I can generally figure things out on my own. Easy to use and figure out doesn't mean it's shallow though - it's definitely a powerful and robust program.

Birst Reliability

The only downtime we've had can be attributed to us not having proper backup procedures on the server we installed it on. The log files filled up the space allocated to the machine. We have since fixed the issue.
Everything runs very fast and smoothly. The only process that I wish was faster would be processing the data after uploading new data or making changes to the existing data model. It can take 15-20 minutes (roughly) to upload and process new data once you start getting into 10's of millions of rows. Given my experience with how long it takes me to pull the same data using SQL Server Management Studio, I don't think Birst is unreasonably slow - but for me to give a higher rating, I would want it to be unreasonably fast.

Integrating Birst

  • We'd eventually like to plug it into Google Analytics.
Yes, Birst has a special connector for Google Analytics.