It All Adds Up: How Software Sprawl Is Cutting Into Your Agency's Profits

Today, there are so many tools that make life at a creative agency easier. But does your team have too many? You have a tool to share on social media. (You may even have multiple tools because yours may not support all the platforms.) Then you have tools to communicate with your team, maybe others to talk to the rest of the organization, and perhaps even more to communicate with your clients. And actually working on your deliverables? The story is the same: more tools. The marketing technology landscape alone has over 7,000 tools. It’s called software sprawl (or SaaS sprawl, if you only use cloud apps), and it’s costing you more than you think.

A company with just 50 people uses 40 different SaaS applications on average. And the more people you have in your organization, the higher that number climbs. McAfee found that, on average, enterprises use 1,427 distinct cloud services, and the typical employee uses 36 different cloud applications during their working day.

What does that mean in terms of productivity? Let's say you have a 50-person team with 40 different apps. Not everyone uses the same tools, so any project you work on will end up with duplicated portions in multiple applications. That means across the life of a project, there are countless hours wasted finding pertinent information, copying and pasting data into each app as necessary, manually creating reports to share with the team and/or clients, and other equally frustrating and cumbersome tasks, costing you both time and money. Wondering how much this disconnected data costs? SnapLogic estimates it's around $140 billion.

It’s a numbers game

Can you name a pro bono creative agency off the top of your head? Me neither. You hired the best writers, designers, and creatives you could find to make some really awesome stuff. But you need to stay in the black, and that means charging your clients like any other business. The fact is if your costs rise above your profits for too long, your agency is no more. And every time your employees have to deal with disconnected data and software sprawl, it's cutting into your profits.

But the cost includes more than just the price of the apps themselves (which is $2,884 per year per employee, if you were wondering). Let's look at some numbers. In the U.S., the average salary for a designer is $62,467 per year. If just 15% of their time is wasted trying to find the right information, chasing down project plans, switching among multiple apps, etc., that’s $9,370 per year you’re losing on just one person. Extrapolate that out to a whole design team, and it adds up quickly.

You can follow the same formula to figure out the cost for your team. Take your employees' average yearly salary and multiply it by 15% (or 0.15). Now multiply this figure by how many employees you have. That’s your yearly cost of inefficiency due to software sprawl. Now, 15% is the real variable here. For some agencies, that number is far higher. In fact, Scoro estimates most people actually use 60% or less of their available work time.

The costs don’t stop there

The bottom line is if you miss too many deadlines or deliver poorly executed projects, your clients will drop you. Your team has to work efficiently, and if they don't know where data is, who owns what, or the status of a project without having to jump through hoops, they can't work efficiently. Working inefficiently is frustrating, and being unable to find information or complete tasks on time over and over again can stress your employees. If it becomes too much, you're at risk of turnover becoming a rampant problem on your team.

Work management can help

Software sprawl is a problem that every company faces nowadays, but there are ways to curb the expansion. First of all, getting your project management out of email and into a workflow management system (like Wrike!) can help you create a single source of truth for every project your agency handles.

It takes approximately 16 minutes to redirect our attention back to an ongoing project every time we read an email. Simply reducing the number of emails your team receives per day can help them stay on-project. But beyond that, there are other advantages to moving to a centralized work management platform:

  • Everyone has what they need

    The entire point of a work management platform is collaboration. But not everyone works the same way. And just as every employee has their own way of working, every client is going to be different. While your team may be using Agile, you may have clients using waterfall and others on Kanban. Your workflow management solution must be able to handle each project however your clients need without having to use different tools.

    "The main advantage of Wrike has been less frivolous communication. Whereas before a lot of time was spent trying to find information, with Wrike, people are more self-sufficient in finding that information on their own. That saves us a lot of time."  — Hoon Kim, Creative Production Manager, Airbnb.

    To help keep costs down, it's important to be able to invite your clients onto your platform as collaborators. This means they get access to see their project progress and collaborate with you without you having to pay for a full seat.
  • Everyone works together

    If "Mean Girls" taught us anything, it's that cliques are universal. When it comes to work, though, having multiple groups of people who use different tools and may not share information easily only makes everything more difficult. At the end of the day, it's not about what Graphics did vs. what Copy did, it's about figuring out together what the client needs and then delivering it.

    When everyone uses the same system, true collaboration can happen. Not only will your team be more efficient (which decreases costs indirectly due to less wasted time and increases profits through more completed projects) but you'll also be able to eliminate some redundant applications, reducing the amount you have to spend on apps.

    "With Wrike in play, everyone's aligned from the start so our focus can be where it should be: on the customer." — Emilie Vachon, Lifecycle Marketing Coordinator, Hootsuite
  • Everything integrates

    Disconnected data costs companies billions. By ensuring your team has a single source of truth and knows where to find information at any given time and where to put information about any given topic, you can help save your agency money. Instead of digging through your inbox or manually compiling reports to give a status update, your team can streamline how they work with an integrated work management platform, reducing both time wasted and employee frustration.

    For instance, your designers probably spend large parts of their day in Photoshop, Illustrator, or another part of Adobe's Creative Cloud software library. Wouldn't it be nice if they didn't have to leave their program to get and send updates to projects? Integrations like these exist for nearly every app imaginable and can empower your team to do more with less.

    "We had no central place to keep our debrief comments, decide what we're going to do next, or keep our build schedule up to date and working well. Previously, there was always a bit of a disconnect. There was never much communication about where we were with a task. We’re in different locations, so Wrike really facilitates that cross-departmental collaboration," — Celene Curry, Events Operations, Goodwood Group

Wrike can help

Get your team working together and with your clients more efficiently. Save time and money with a fully integrated work management platform that will launch you into a better way of working.

"I'm better at my job because Wrike helps me and my team stay organized on a day-to-day basis to help make sure our tasks are done and we finish our projects on time." — Leigh Stokes, Creative Services Traffic and Project Manager, Backcountry

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