More than just software: a collaboration that streamlines productivity and alignment
November 20, 2015
More than just software: a collaboration that streamlines productivity and alignment
Score 10 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Bubble Innovator
Bubble Innovator is our "single source of truth" for stage gate and portfolio management reporting. It is central to our PMO function and is used for regular monthly reporting of metrics, issue escalation & resolution, and portfolio optimization. Bubble Innovator has provided a level of transparency across the organization that was previously impossible to achieve. There are some key elements of the product that enabled this: highly intuitive user interface allows frequent data upload with minimal effort; visually appealing and simple automated reports drive transparency and alignment across the organization, while streamlining reporting (people can now spend time doing productive work, and less time trying to match an ever-evolving format for reports); and the new addition of highly customized reporting, so that users across many functions (upstream, downstream, pipeline, operations, regulatory, etc) can very easily create the reports that are best suited to their needs, and the questions their leaders are asking.
- I already mentioned the simple user interface for data upload, and the equally intuitive customized reporting. Leadership and "supporting" functions for product development get tremendous value from this because they don't need to hunt down answers anymore. Everything from pipeline planning to operational planning can be built on the same foundation of objective data, rather than many different sources interpreted through many different lenses.
- But the greatest value I think Bubble Innovator delivers is not really the product itself. It's the sense of partnership and responsiveness from the Bubble Innovation team. The Bubble Innovation team becomes a part of your team. They are valued consultants with helpful input on best practices for stage gate management, portfolio analytics, and report visualization. I have continually been impressed with the responsiveness and effort that their team brings to the table. When we have challenges and need to customize our data or analytics or reporting, they are right there beside us, finding the best solution, sharing prototypes in a test environment, and implementing as fast as possible.
- The biggest issue we've had in the past is customized reporting. But this has now been addressed with a new module dedicated to enabling any user to build the report to exactly meet their needs and address the questions being asked by their leaders. There is always room for improvement here, and the leadership demands for alternative views are frequently evolving, but with the customized reporting ability we can deal with this evolution far better than ever before, and beyond the capabilities of any competitive product I've seen.
- Detailed resource & capacity planning is not the strength of this tool. Compiling and packaging data to drive highly constructive conversations during stage gate reviews, pipeline reviews, and portfolio optimization discussions is. With that said, the Bubble Innovation team rose to the challenge of creating a high-level resource & capacity planning tool that now gives us reasonable ability to plan for forward-looking functional resource gaps in the context of a prioritized project list. It won't address detailed capabilities/competencies at the individual employee level.
- For senior level reporting, we tend to speak in PowerPoint. While it is pretty effortless to create Excel and pdf output from Bubble Innovator, it would be nice to be able to export reports/data/charts/content to PowerPoint.
- As noted previously, streamlined and efficient reporting means more time working productively and less time converting all your updates into the slide format-of-the-year/quarter/month.
- Also mentioned previously, the transparency is an immediate benefit. Not just visibility to which projects have the greatest risk or value, but also which ones are at risk of missing milestones so you can proactively address them, and which ones simply don't have sufficient data entered/available to inform good decision making.
- The stage gate management tools, which Bubble Innovation worked very closely with us to develop, have driven improved rigor, consistency, and constructive challenge into our project management. If there are highly critical strategic elements that need to be incorporated into all projects across the business (e.g., heightened awareness of profitability impact), then you can efficiently push that into every stage gate conversation across every platform by integrating that element into your stage gate requirements, without having any impact on design control or more stringently controlled procedures.
I don't have deep experience with this product, but with my limited exposure, the user interface and ability to customize reports are not comparable to Bubble Innovator. I can't speak for their service beyond the product, but have already mentioned that responsiveness is one of the greatest strengths of the Bubble Innovation team.
No stage gate or portfolio reporting solution can overcome poor input data. The organization has to be willing to commit to consistent and rigorous updates of the information, or the reporting becomes useless. From what I've seen of competitive systems, Bubble Innovator is the easiest to use in this regard, so the excuse of not having good data because it's painful to upload or cumbersome to retrieve goes away. And the ease with which you can produce customized reports allows you to immediately find the gaps and weak points in your data, and take action to address them. That's not to say that every report and function in Bubble Innovator is perfect. But the close collaboration and responsiveness of the Bubble Innovation team has made it relatively easy to triage, prioritize, and implement improvements along the way.
Bubble Innovator Implementation
The number of variables made this extremely challenging (org changes, stage gate harmonization, pipeline prioritization, and new governance model). I think the implementation was handled very well in spite of this, and managed to deliver on time and on budget.
Yes - The implementation included face-to-face introduction to the user interface, and support throughout the initial data uploads. This face-to-face training and deployment added cost, but was well worth it, because it built rapport and trust across the organization. In addition, they worked side by side with us in developing a harmonized and rigorous stage gate process, which was implemented across multiple businesses.
Change management was a big part of the implementation and was well-handled - The face-to-face visits to multiple sites was vital to the success of implementation. Having a dedicated PMO group was extremely helpful as well, so that there was a team directly invested in uploading the data to maximize the system benefit.
- Data integrity - it was critical to reinforce with the PMO that the data were becoming highly visible, and inherent in high-level reporting & decision-making. The ease of use of Innovator allows every user to see how their data are compiled into reports, so they are aware of how the information is used, and how to best convey status updates, requests for assistance, or recommendations. As mentioned, when Bubble met face-to-face with users in every site globally it helped build rapport and a sense of team, so we were all working together to hit an aggressive deadline.
Bubble Innovator Support
I've mentioned it already in this review, but this is really a strength of Bubble Innovator. The team is highly engaged in helping solve challenges to make their customer's lives easier.
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
No - I really don't know if "premium support" is available from Bubble Innovator, but would say that I feel we are already receiving it. When I am working late in the evening to make custom reports with the new functionality, and get a proactive message from the Bubble Innovation team asking if they can help ensure the new functionality is meeting my needs because they observed some server response times that were slower than they would have liked (and I had not even noticed), that feels like pretty impressive on demand premium support!
Yes - We had an instance where the response time of the system just wasn't meeting our expectations, and was affecting users across the business. We had immediate response in e-mail and by phone from Bubble Innovator- they were aware of the problem, and followed up to let us know when they had identified the root cause, and informed us of when it would be resolved. The proactive communication and rapid response gave us confidence that we had chosen the right partner.
I've already mentioned the impressively proactive response when we first deployed the custom reporting tool. Without me even knowing an error had occurred, I received an offer of help from their tech support. When they learned that the error was not even visible to me as a user, they ensured that I was getting the functionality I needed.
Using Bubble Innovator
The user interface is highly visual and simple. Literally within 10-15 minutes of my introduction to the software, I was up and running. Of course, deeper capabilities become apparent after additional use, but the basic functionality is very simple to grasp. Where there are consistent challenges reported by multiple users, the Bubble Innovation team is quick to connect and put plans in place to address the challenges.
Like to use
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Quick to learn
Feel confident using
- Building custom reports
- Stage gate management - consistency, rigor, & constructive challenge are embedded
- Resource & capacity planning - not sure there is an easy way around this, but for the tool to work effectively, functional resource capacity and project level assignments must be entered across every project and mapped over each quarter for each major function. The Bubble Innovation team has offered to implement pre-filled resource fields to streamline this, but the fact remains that it probably varies for every project and must be done manually, regardless of the software.