4 Ways to Measure the ROI of Work Management Tools

Picture the scene. It’s a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. You’re the head of operations for a top government weapons organization. Your task? Build the ultimate weapon the size of a moon, capable of destroying a planet. But there are problems around every corner: insufficient project requirements, failure from leadership to recognize risk, managers setting poor collaboration processes, aggressive competition targeting you, and so much more. In the end, your project blows up. Literally. 

If you haven’t figured out, this “project” is the Death Star and students at Lehigh University estimated it’d cost $852,000,000,000,000,000 to build…and that’s just the cost of steel production. That’s quite an expensive project failure.

Although an out-of-this-world example, the cost of poor work management within your company can be just as detrimental if left unchecked. It can be hard to track the fiscal impact work management has on your day-to-day job operations, but the costs of a poor system can be just as detrimental if left unchecked.

  • Companies lose $97 million for every $1 billion invested in projects (PMI, 2017).
  • 17% of IT projects fail so badly they can threaten the existence of a company (Calleam).
  • On average, projects go over budget by 27% of their intended cost (Harvard Business Review).
  • IT failure rates are estimated to be between 5–15%, accounting for a loss of $50–$150 billion per year in the United States alone (Harvard Business Review).

Those statistics can seem as daunting as a looming Star Destroyer, but there’s a “new hope.” (Okay, we’ll stop.) Enter a collaborative work management platform (CWM).

According to the Project Management Institute, organizations using any type of project management methodology are better at meeting budgets; staying on schedule; and meeting scope, quality standards, and expected benefits. In fact, their 2017 pulse of the profession study found that companies with strong project management initiatives save 28 times more money on projects.

Your growing organization needs to optimize productivity, visibility, and collaboration in order to maximize revenue — but how do you know a work management platform is the right solution? 

Whether you’re trying to decide what solution is worth the investment, prove the investment to key stakeholders, or show the ROI for a solution you already have, here are some key ways you can measure the ROI of your work management tool. 

  1. The ROI of taking on more projects with less headcount which ultimately empowers your teams to increase project throughput while using the same resources.
  2. The ROI of time or cost savings per project which measures project efficiency through operational cost reductions.
  3. The ROI of collaborative, more productive, happier employees. Take a look at the softer — and often harder to measure — impact on employee satisfaction which directly impacts retention and productivity.
  4. The ROI of streamlined integration and automation where improved productivity and technical efficiency superpower workflows and processes.

Let's dive into each method.

4 ways to measure the ROI of work management tools

1. The ROI of taking on more projects with less headcount

Most of us have seen the famous SaaS landscape supergraphic before.

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The overwhelming number of logos illustrates perfectly the competitive environment brands — in all industries — face today. Brands need to innovate to outperform their competition. While leaders are taxed for resources and work to optimize productivity, internal teams feel the pressure of increasing work and demanding OKRs. But what if a tool could help your team complete more projects without any extra headcount? Or even less!

What are the biggest resource drains to your team? For many, it’s searching for information, documents, stakeholders, feedback, status updates — the list goes on. In fact, one study found that teams waste 21.8 hours a week looking for documents and project information, or 54.5% of their time in a 40-hour work week. Let’s say you pay an employee $1,000 a week. In this scenario, you lose $545 a week — $28,340 a year to activities that hinder productivity.  

It’s not that your employees are wasting time either; they’re working as hard and fast as they can with the tools and processes they have in place. But what if you could unlock their productivity? 

Collaborative work management platforms (CWM), like Wrike, help teams mitigate time wasted waiting or searching for information. A CWM centralizes project timelines, tasks, communication, and documentation into a single source of truth. Wrike, for example, integrates with 400+ tools that make it easy for teams to find the information they need in one place.

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Because of these features, everyone can access project information at any time. Without a CWM, project information is siloed in IMs or email chains and is incredibly time-consuming to wade through. Wrike also has features like workflow statuses that automatically update project members on tasks, ensuring that everyone knows where a project stands without having to waste time checking in.  

A CWM helps your team not only save time and money with visibility into their work, but also empower teams to truly adopt Agile methodologies and project management frameworks. This helps them become even more productive. Being able to standardize processes and centralize project communication allows teams to do more work in less time. 

For example, Wrike customer Chad Borenz, the Director of Marketing Operations at professional services company IdeaS and Revenue Solutions, shares, “I can look back two years after implementing Wrike and the volume of projects that we've been able to attack and get completed within a time period has basically quadrupled. We went from, on average, working on 20-50 projects at once and now we're in the 200+ range and we haven't added any additional headcount within our group. Having Wrike has greatly improved our efficiencies.”

Measure it

Whether you’ve already implemented a solution or are still finding the right one, measure the projects you can complete before and after your CWM. In order to get a fiscal correlation of your increased productivity, add numerical data points that make sense to your company. For example, you can add employee salaries and average project value to the equation. Keep measuring and improving! Especially as your team adds Agile methodologies or new project management frameworks.

(Projects team completed before in given time frame) / (Number of team members) = compared to = (Projects team can complete now in given time frame) / (Number of team members)

Keep in mind that reforming project processes takes time! Give your teams a chance to settle in with the tool. As Sean Carty, Wrike Sr. Product Marketing Manager, observes, “This metric is all about opportunity cost and being able to focus your limited resources on the projects with the highest impact.” 

2. The ROI of time or cost savings per project

In our professional service industry project management survey, 97% of projects are delayed to some degree, and projects going over the timeline and budget are the number one reason for client churn. In fact, many teams across industries can relate. In Capterra’s list of the top project management statistics, managing project costs was the biggest problem faced by manufacturing project managers, followed by hitting deadlines and sharing information across teams. The revenue losses from delays come from all directions:

  • The cost of paying more workers for more time
  • The cost of losing clients because of poor project management
  • The opportunity cost of not having time for new businesses
  • The list goes on!

There’s an inherent ROI that comes with optimized work powered by a CWM. But beyond accomplishing more projects with the same amount of resources, we look at the cost savings of maximizing the reliability and speed of completed projects. 

Wrike customer Celene Curry, Event Operations at Goodwood Group, frames this sentiment perfectly: “We're saving money because we’re foreseeing any problems before we even get there, whereas to solve it on-event it takes man-hours and coordinating different suppliers coming in at different times. We've definitely saved ourselves money there, as well as time and effort.”

A CWM helps teams get a bird’s eye view of the project timeline, status, and dependencies so they can easily visualize where bottlenecks might occur. This helps leaders better allocate resources, plan labor, and remove roadblocks. Tools like Wrike help teams not only see their work but prioritize it.  

For example, Sean Amster, Frontline Education’s Digital Strategy and Operations Manager, shares, “With Wrike, projects that used to take us eight days now take us only five. We’ve also been able to handle about 80 more projects per quarter since implementing Wrike. That’s a 20% increase in workload that marketing can take on because of Wrike.”

Measure it: 

Every team and project is different! It can be complex to turn time saved into a true dollar amount — after all, employee and customer happiness are priceless, right? But our Product Marketing team has an equation to help you decipher the ROI of time and cost savings.

Equation:

  • Average project duration: X weeks
    • V number of workers
    • W worker salary a week
    • X projects per year
    • Project planning: Y weeks
    • Project execution: Z weeks
  • Total cost for one project:
    • Cost of planning 1 project: V workers x $W salary x Y weeks = $$$
    • Cost of executing 1 project: V workers x $W salary x Z weeks = $$$
    • Add those 2 numbers together to get total cost: $$$

Compare your numbers before and after implementing your CWM to find the cost savings! 

3. The ROI of more collaborative, productive, and happier employees 

It’s true that in order to achieve hyper-growth as a company, team members need to be challenged to innovate. But all too often that positive challenge breaks into too much stress. Wrike’s study on the impact of stress in the workplace found that 94% of workers experience stress at work and almost 1 of out 3 workers said their stress is high to unsustainably high. Respondents also said that high levels of stress led them to:

  • Search for a new job
  • Lose sleep (impacting their ability to perform)
  • Stop caring / “check out”
  • Take unplanned time off
  • And more!

It’s no surprise that research by Kronos and Future Workplace revealed 87% of HR leaders consider employee retention a primary concern. When employees leave, check out, take unplanned days off, or are simply unable to perform well, it causes bottlenecks in projects and impacts the team’s morale. Other team members can be left waiting on others to take action, projects get left in limbo, and frustration stirs. 

This ripple effect can lead to a significant uptick in disengaged employees, in which one study revealed it costs U.S. companies up to $550 billion a year in lost productivity. Plus, recruiting the best talent has evolved into a highly competitive and expensive market, costing U.S. companies $160 billion a year.

But there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. According to our study, 63% of CWM users identify as either mostly happy or elated compared to only 34% of non-CWM users. Happy employees commit 26% fewer clerical errors, demonstrate 79% lower burnout, and have a 61% lower likelihood of churning compared to unhappy employees. 

There’s a huge ROI opportunity connected to employee happiness and a CWM platform will help you. How does a CWM platform help? 

  • It keeps project information and communication in one place to maximize visibility and accountability.
  • Teams spend less time searching for information and documents and more time getting work done.
  • Leaders can better measure workloads to avoid overloading members.
  • Multiple work views ensure every type of project timeline can be visualized, making it easy to identify bottlenecks, plan work, manage progress, and maximize visibility.
  • With simple @mentions, teams can collaborate in one place or bring in a manager to help remove roadblocks.
  • Project communication centralized in the tools minimizes confusing, siloed email chains.
  • The possibilities are truly endless!

One great example of measuring employee happiness with the CWM comes from Wrike customer Airbnb. Before Wrike, Airbnb’s creative team used a massive online spreadsheet that simply wasn’t scalable. It couldn’t support the rapid changes and versioning created by hundreds of simultaneous users or manage the detailed workflows and handoffs. After implementing Wrike, they saw huge improvements in their productivity. But they wanted to dig deeper. They sent out a survey to team members to measure their experience before and after Wrike. Here are the results:

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Measure it:

  1. Once you’ve fully implemented your CWM tool, survey your employees! Measure key topics using our Airbnb example as inspiration. Or, dig deeper into questions that reflect your unique workflows and challenges. Continue this practice of surveying your employees about their satisfaction with topics like workloads, project processes, tools, and more.
  2. Over the next year, have your HR team monitor employee retention. Use calculations specific to your company on how costly it is to hire new team members and put a dollar amount to your employee churn rate before and after your CWM implementation.

4. The ROI of streamlined integration and automation

It takes nearly 30 minutes to refocus after you get distracted. Let that sink in. Even if an employee you were paying $100,000 only got distracted twice a day, it would still be almost $50 a day of unproductive time — $13,000 a year per employee. 

Between emails, IMs, switching tools, searching for documents, gathering information, meetings, and office chats — distractions are everywhere. The good news is, a CWM like Wrike can help you negate most of these distractions, saving you time and money. The secret sauce? Integration and automation. 

In our professional services industry survey, 3 in 10 of those surveyed said they could achieve 30-39% more meaningful work if the repetitive, administrative parts of their job were automated. About 1 in 5 (22%) said they could achieve 50% or more work. A CWM like Wrike automates time-consuming, repetitive administrative work like task creation, work assignment, project notifications, reporting, and more.

For example, Wrike Templates is one way many of our customers and teams streamline their work with automation. Wrike customer Arvig reported that they were able to save 900+ hours a year onboarding new employees with Wrike Forms, Wrike Templates, and Wrike Integrate. Multiply those hours by employee salary and you have a huge fiscal ROI data point!

Automation and integration also work wonders on reducing communication friction. 

Whether it’s status updates, sharing information, reporting, or more, email is a challenge for teams to work out of. Fergus Adam, Managing Partner at Creative Agency, Dare, echoes this sentiment: “Nobody here has written a status report for 18 months, because it’s all automated and that's a massive time saving and it’s been a huge increase for project accuracy.” Both of these can be measured by time saved on employee activities and minimized cost due to fewer errors. 

According to Symantec, the average enterprise company uses over 900 cloud applications to manage its processes. Another survey reported that 68% of workers switch apps 10 times an hour and waste a full hour a day switching apps. Today’s teams use a plethora of tools, and a CWM’s ability to integrate can help streamline both your tool stack and project process.

One great example is OSF Healthcare’s utilization of Wrike’s integration with Adobe Photoshop. With Wrike as their CWM, OSF Healthcare’s creative team can easily upload documents into Wrike Proof to gather actionable feedback from stakeholders right on the image, all centralized in one place. Andrea Bonk, Program Manager of Market Research, shares, “The time to value within our team has certainly increased. We're collaborating more than we ever have before, and we’ve also cut the time it takes to revise and approve assets by 50%, if not more.”

There are so many examples to see the ROI that your CWM’s integration capabilities can bring to the table. To dive deeper into Wrike’s integrations, check out our blog, “Better Together: Wrike Integrations That Inspire Highly Productive Team.”

Measure it: 

Each team has different challenges, tools, and goals. For some, having a single location to get feedback and approvals on assets may be the biggest time saver. For others, it’s taking collaboration out of emails and into a single location. For example, Esurance measured their ROI with time saved from emails. 

Sabrina Wong, Esurance’s Associate Content Project Manager, states, “Prior to Wrike, one especially demanding project was handled 100% via email. I would say we were getting maybe 400 emails a month per team member — that’s how many emails Wrike has saved me. Now that everyone is using Wrike, all of the feedback is tracked in the tool so it’s super easy to go back and answer our own questions. We don't have to go through 3,000 emails.” 

Measure the ROI here for time saved by measuring task time before and after Wrike. If you use your CWM to consolidate tools, add saved costs into your equation.

Ready to maximize your ROI from your Collaborative Work Management Platform? 

Saving time and money, optimizing resources, improving employee work-life quality, and beyond. The benefits of a CWM are priceless, but here at Wrike, we’re all about measuring progress and showing the results of project management best practices. 

When considering the right way to measure ROI for your team, here are a few questions to help you get started:

  • Before CWM:  
    • How are you running projects? What tools are you working in?
    • How do you track and report on project progress?
    • How much time do projects, tasks, and collaboration take?
    • Where was there friction in your work management process?
    • What were the economic, time-or quality-based impacts on your business from the friction in this state?
    • What opportunities were lost due to this state?
  • After CWM:
    • What are the positive business impacts of your current state?
    • What tools are you using now? Were you able to preserve budget or measure time savings?
    • Where have you corrected points of friction on your process?
    • What are the economic, time based or quality based impacts from the improvements you’re currently seeing?
    • What opportunities have you been able to capture or execute due to your current state?

Let’s go deeper! Want to get an idea of the ROI Wrike can have for your business? 

Try our Wrike Savings ROI calculator! Measure how much time and money Wrike saves you.

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