A Typical Day in the Office
9:30-10:00am: Video Call with a Synthetic Biology Client in the UK
Our customer’s IT team has been building integrations into Benchling, and they’d like to discuss some new features for improving barcode printer integration and microscopy data capture. Before this call, I sync quickly with Benchling’s technical lead to understand the technical details this project, because we don’t plan to develop these features until next quarter. Clearly this is a sensitive situation, so during the call, I have to be diplomatic in assuring the client that while we can’t focus on building out these features right know, they are indeed on our roadmap. Thankfully, our client is satisfied knowing that we have it all planned out.
10:00-11:00am: Weekly Check-In Call with a Gene Therapy Client in Boston
We had an onsite training session with a client last week in Boston, so during this call, we review the onsite and address any remaining issues/questions. I give our client’s Head of Research an update on the imports we’re handling for them, from their previous Electronic Lab Notebooks into Benchling.
Previously, this client expressed interest in Benchling’s Data Warehouse and Request Management tools, so I’m having this call along with one of our Account Executives and one of our Product Managers. Our Product Manager asks the client’s Project Manager to walk through their potential use cases for the Data Warehouse. The client’s desired queries are mostly around business intelligence: ex. “How much progress has been made on a project? Which users have open entires? Which projects are stalled?” It sounds like something Benchling can definitely help with, so our Product Manager and I agree to circle up later to decide next steps.
12:30-1:30pm: Customer Health & Metrics
To help make sure our team is tracking towards our quarterly objectives, I take some time to synthesize my latest notes for all of the clients that I’m responsible for. I put together some key takeaways, as well as metrics on their usage rates for each of our products.
1:30-2:00pm: Customer Success Weekly Meeting
Each member of the team shares the health and metrics of their key accounts, as well as the status of ongoing rollouts. We each share thoughts on how various issues/blockers can be dealt with. We’re aggressively growing the team, so we also discuss upcoming interviews and hiring goals. This week, a member of the marketing team is also sitting in, and we discuss some upcoming case studies on what we want to develop on a few of our clients. Then, we finish up by brainstorming ways to streamline rollouts going forward.
3:00-4:00pm: Check-In Call with a Cell Therapy Client in Cambridge
A month ago, one of our clients in Cambridge successfully onboarded their upstream research groups onto Benchling, and the metrics are looking good. Now, they’ve decided they want to move their downstream development groups onto Benchling.
The first objective during this call is to get a qualitative picture of how Benchling use is going. Our main point of contact at the client shares the key “magic moments” that his scientists have been enthusiastic about, while also sharing some of the areas where they would like to see improvement. At Benchling, we have a culture of turning around bug fixes within a week, and feature requests within a quarter, so in this case I tell the client that we’ll get right on it, and I give them a preliminary sense of timeline.
The second objective is to discuss the major tasks necessary to get Benchling to their development groups. Through earlier discussions and by working with their upstream research group, I have a good sense of this client’s CAR T-based workflows. For their downstream development work, a lot of it is very innovative, since CAR T is still an emerging technology, so we walk through it step by step as I sketch out their workflow, and the pieces of software that we’ll be replacing. Then, I discuss what I envision a Benchling deployment would look like for these groups, and begin compiling a list of tasks to be done and people that I need to speak with to accomplish this rollout. For note-taking and project management, we use a combination of Quip and Smartsheets, so I update both of those in real-time during our call.
After the call, I spend some time synthesizing my notes, and then over Slack, I reach out to our Head of Product with them to put this new deployment on his radar.
4:30-5:00pm: Import Planning Meeting with Engineers
One of our clients is importing their data from their legacy ELN system and into Benchling’s Lab Notebook. I meet with the Engineer and Product Manager responsible for handling this, and we discuss timelines and key milestones.
Since we’ve been seeing larger and larger clients switching off of their legacy ELNs, we also discuss how to streamline future ELN imports. Our Engineer comes up with some great ideas, and our Product Manager agrees to scope them out.
5:30-6:00pm: One-on-One Meeting with Engineer
At Benchling, we have a tight-knit culture even across our different teams. We’re encouraged to have one-on-one meetings, especially with people that we don’t directly work with, so that we’re each exposed to a wide range of perspectives and can keep a handle on what’s going on across the company. I finish my day by grabbing a coffee with one of our engineers. We talk about ongoing customer success and engineering projects, and how they could be streamlined in the future. We also just talk about what we’re planning to do this coming weekend.
After the one-on-one, I have a quick dinner back at the office, and then head home.
A Typical Day Onsite with a Client
Last night, I flew from Benchling HQ in San Francisco to San Diego, to visit one of our clients developing antibody therapeutics. We’re in the process of rolling out the Workflow Management module for two of their teams. For the past month and a half, we’ve held meetings with their scientists and group lead to configure the module for their needs – this entails understanding their day-to-day processes and the scientific frameworks behind them.
Today, I’ll be running two meetings: a development session with their protein purification team and a “Go-Live” training for their transfection team. I run through my schedule and goals for the day once more before calling a car to the client site.
9:30-11:00am: Development Session with the Protein Purification Team
I arrive at the client site. I’m first greeted by the implementation lead on the client’s side, a research director helping us oversee the rollout internally. I catch up with her as I set up my laptop to present a few slides.
The protein purification group files in. I present a meeting agenda and some work we’ve done since our last meeting: our engineers fixed a bug surfaced by the team a week ago, and I have a preliminary model of how they’ll be structuring their assay data in Benchling. Members of the client’s technical team are present as well, and so we discuss the preliminary data model that I’ve put together for them. I gather their feedback and prepare to iterate the model based on it.
The discussion kicks in; the preliminary model works well for their most common purification processes, but scientists bring up edge cases that should be accommodated as well. Live in the meeting, we refine the model further.
11:00am-11:30am: Setting Action Items with Group Leads
The scientists leave. The group leads stay behind, and we set some action items from the meeting to keep the development process progressing.
12:30-2:00pm: Training Session with the Transfection Team
After grabbing some lunch and responding to some messages from my team back in San Francisco, I return to the client site. This time, I’m running a Go-Live training with the transfection team. I’ve already held a series of development meetings with this group, so today I’m officially getting everybody up and running on the Workflow Management module.
I’ve prepared a training session tailored specifically for these scientists – we not only review the discrete steps and data tracking they’ll be performing in the software, but their group leads are also chiming in with how this will positively impact their day-to-day process at the bench.
2:00-3:00pm: Bioprocessing Team Workflow Management Check-In
One week prior, I trained the bioprocessing team on using the Workflow Management module, and they’ve already gone live. I spent some time checking in on how the deployment is going, and if they have any new questions about the product.
After collecting feedback from the team, we discuss new structured data that we could be capturing to build upon their current product version (ex. capturing media composition in structured tables).
Towards the end, we also discuss Tableau usage and how to query the Benchling Data Warehouse for workflows that are ongoing, since the CEO will want to see data that’s being produced before certain workflows have completed. We agree that it sounds like Benchling can definitely do what the team needs, and I plan to put them in touch with one of our engineers for additional guidance on how to run the right queries.
3:00-4:00pm: Office Hours
To answer any lingering questions that scientists might have, I stick around and host an open “office hour”. A few scientists trickle in – we have folks from the protein purification team, the transfection team, and the bioprocessing team that I previously onboarded onto Benchling.
4:00-5:30pm: Final Meeting with Group Leads
The group leads and I have one final check-in for the day. Since it’s a Friday, we head out to grab a beer and discuss any new or outstanding issues from the rest of the day’s meetings. I update them on our rollout timelines so we’re fully aware of the progress we’ve already made and the major milestones we’re still working toward. We also chat more generally about how their science is progressing, and I learn that they’re considering spinning out their bispecifics technology into a new company. I agree to loop in our CEO to discuss how Benchling could help build out informatics at this new spinout.
5:30-6:30pm: Collating Notes and Catching Up on Other Work
I head to a café and consolidate the rest of my notes. I have a couple of messages from clients to attend to, and a quick internal meeting on an exciting new feature that the product team wants to get my feedback on.
6:30pm: Dinner with a Sales Colleague
One of my colleagues, an Account Executive, is based in San Diego, so we grab dinner. We discuss new customers that are about to close, and I share some of the ways that Benchling has really been wowing my clients, so the AE can start highlighting those in sales deals.