Product Updates

New features improve your experience on Science Exchange.

Product Updates

Designing for faster R&D: competitive bidding

A Q&A with Monica Tan, Director of User Experience at Science Exchange


Monica — Science Exchange’s mission is to accelerate breakthrough discovery for R&D organizations.

Tell us a story about a particular bottleneck facing R&D, and how Science Exchange’s user experience (UX) team solved the challenge.


Getting multiple, competitive quotes for R&D projects is important to many researchers, their organizations, and many government or regulatory agencies.

Yet, obtaining multiple quotes can be slow, especially using a traditional, “offline” outsourcing process. Science Exchange continuously strives to create online processes that outperform traditional workflows to speed up R&D — and that’s what we did for the multiple quote feature that’s built into our software.


Can you walk me through what you did?


As you can see from the illustration below, there are many challenges associated with the traditional workflow — it can be time-consuming, manual, imprecise, and even noncompliant. 

R&D organizations liked using Science Exchange because of how easy it was to obtain multiple quotes, and we recently improved that process even further. We used an industry-accepted  paradigm, the “shopping cart” — familiar to most end users from their favorite B2C online shopping sites. 

Compared to offline workflows for obtaining competitive bids for R&D services procurement, Science Exchange’s “shopping cart” experience is easy and familiar to end users, promoting efficiency and compliance.

Our new approach allows researchers to request quotes from providers they are interested in working with, through the shopping cart. The researcher has to create only one request, which is then sent with one click to all of the providers they selected, streamlining the process greatly.


How exactly does the UX Design team at Science Exchange decide and execute an optimized workflow like this?


First, we talk to our existing customers to understand their needs and areas where we might improve our platform. We also create and solicit early feedback on flows, wireframes, mockups, and prototypes, so we don’t invest in suboptimal features or solutions. We partner with product management and engineering / development to prioritize the features and improvement requests we hear from our customers.


How do you measure success?


In the case of the “multiple quotes” feature, we were optimizing an existing capability. So we compared the time required for a typical user to send a request to multiple providers using the first-generation Science Exchange UX and then using the “shopping cart” experience. Check out the results — the new UX enabled 75% faster request submission (sending RFQs to 2 providers) and 109% faster request submission (sending RFQs to 3 providers).

Ultimately, success looks like increased usage of the Science Exchange platform, and higher levels of customer satisfaction! So far, we’ve definitely heard positive feedback from users — the day we released the new workflow, one of our enterprise R&D customers said, 

“I know I speak for the team here at [company] when I tell you this is great news!”

For a UX designer, customer satisfaction, as measured by happiness and success in completing an order, is my ultimate reward.

Shopping cart UX speeds up request submission process

compared to Gen 1 request submission workflow

New UX enabled 75% faster request submission (sending RFQs to 2 providers) and 109% faster request submission (sending RFQs to 3 providers).


Monica Tan

Director, User Experience

Monica is a User Experience Designer with over 20 years experience in designing cutting-edge interfaces for Web and mobile applications. She has worked with both Enterprise and consumer companies bringing design thinking to large and small organizations. Monica was the lead designer and director of User Experience at Anomali and AlienVault (acquired by AT&T in 2018) both companies creating applications helping security professionals secure their networks. Monica holds a Bachelors of Science from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Monica is obsessed about bringing design thinking and bridging the gap between the user and others in the company.

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