Workfront customers achieve a 285 percent ROI with Workfront over three years
August 6, 2020

Forrester reveals how enterprises hit 285% ROI with Workfront

In an era of unprecedented change when enterprises need technology to accelerate productivity, improve visibility of work, and connect strategy to delivery, one solution delivers a 285% return on investment, according to Forrester. That solution is Workfont, the subject of a commissioned Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) Study, conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Workfront—an in-depth analysis of the potential cost savings and benefits of technology deployed by leading businesses. 

The TEI study tracks the experience and financial outcomes for firms that have deployed Workfront for at least a year to help inform the investment decisions of other enterprises. According to the study, Workfront delivers:

  • 285% ROI over 3 years

  • More than $22 million in productivity savings

  • Payback period of less than 3 months 

Forrester’s findings are based on best practice benchmarks and interviews with four Workfront customers in the chemicals sector, financial services, and healthcare, ranging from 4,000 to 117,000 employees. Within these enterprises, Forrester interviewed senior executives in marketing, IT program management, product development, and the strategic programs office. 

Doubling down on operational excellence.

The TEI study explains that in the race to digitalize, “companies barreled forward with their work, but often, their efforts were uncoordinated leaving executives ‘flying blind’ as to how this work was linked to their strategic initiatives.” Enterprises are lacking a single technology to plan and manage complex, cross-functional work. Instead, they rely on an unwieldy array of spreadsheets, apps, and legacy tools across different workstreams. 

According to the TEI report, successful companies use work management technology to survive and thrive. Forrester found enterprises using Workfront to deliver “noteworthy productivity gains … improved employee experience ... [and] a more positive company culture”: 

“After adopting Workfront, organizations focused on operational excellence by breaking down and tearing apart business processes and building systems of work that allowed teams to manage larger workloads with fewer resources. Employee productivity increased due to the ability to manage work portfolios with increased focus, agility, quality, and speed.”

Forrester notes that interviewees reported how Workfront contributed to positive company culture by eliminating “squeaky wheel” arguments during budget season—giving clarity and a factual basis for discussion about resource requirements. One director who was interviewed told the TEI report team: “We’re able to provide transparency to a level we know executives appreciate because it is timely and factual.”

Agility in the decade of never normal.

Crucially, COVID-19 has made the need for agility and visibility of work all the more acute in what has been described as a new decade of the never normal. The TEI study describes how Workfront helps improve business agility by adapting, aligning, and accelerating toward the right priorities. Interviewed by the Forrester team, a healthcare IT PMO described how they quickly reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team created a time tracking task in Workfront for anything COVID-19 related and applied that to more than 100 workflows in a single day. This allowed the enterprise leadership team to have near real-time reports about how work was being reallocated, and the true cost of the crisis response. 

Exploring the theme of agility further during a webinar featuring the Forrester TEI study authors, Jada Balster, Workfront’s EMEA VP of marketing, said:

“I think we can all agree that as the world of work changes, being able to be more agile or nimble in the execution of work is going to be a clear differentiator for most work teams. Businesses need to reshape the way they approach planning and execution of work, and do it in a way that is truly iterative. It’s about a lot of things, namely, having the data about your work to be able to make sound decisions.”

Three enterprise challenges.

Forrester found that prior to adopting Workfront, the enterprise teams interviewed faced three common challenges: 

  • Lacking a single source of truth. Teams lacked tools to track and communicate progress leading to time-consuming status and reporting meetings and no standard ways of capturing what was blocking projects.

  • Lacking collaboration tools. Teams lacked marketing resource management (MRM) tools that would integrate with end-to-end collaborators. 

  • Lacking time-tracking tools flexible enough for multiple functions. Spreadsheets and the range of other project or task management tools were described as “clunky” and difficult to use without providing the level of flexibility required to meet the needs of different departments or business models. 

Four enterprise benefits.

The interviewees described four common benefits from their deployment of Workfront: 

1—The ability to do the right work, the first time. 

Interviewees told Forrester how they were able to break down work and focus on process improvement—ironing out inconsistencies or errors that were slowing things down—to create consistent workflows for the first time. When interviewed, a director of global program management told Forrester: 

“We worked backwards to build the right plan by discussing what went wrong, so we could stop it. We got rid of the negative churn. We continue to evolve our workstreams, by asking the right questions and becoming more predictable, because we know the downstream impact of every task.”

2—An undisputed single source of truth. 

Workfront became the single source of truth for the organization for work planning and progress allowing teams to understand project status saving hours of time preparing for and in meetings. Executives can understand performance against strategic priorities. When interviewed, a director of global program management told Forrester:

“Workfront is becoming our operational system of record.”

3—Business growth without headcount growth. 

Forrester found that the focus on operational excellence meant that Workfront was enabling teams to handle more work as, in part, tracking progress was a shared effort and program managers were spending time planning rather than executing work. The director of global program management said his organization was able to support 10-15% business growth without adding substantial headcount. 

The consulting director in the chemical manufacturing industry told Forrester: 

“Workfront allows me to quantify the number of projects and the utilization of my resources. If my team is being overly leveraged, the data gives me an opportunity to articulate a sound business case.”

4—Data-driven decisions replace emotional arguments. 

Interviewees told Forrester that their organizations had previously suffered from a “squeaky wheel gets the grease” syndrome when it came to arguing for more resources. Now managers were able to  justify the impact of their resource requests by demonstrating quantifiable value and bringing data to the discussion to support their asks. A healthcare PMO team lead told Forrester:

“I like having leverage in every one of those discussions and that leverage is created by facts not feelings, and data and not assumptions.”

Forrester’s model enterprise.

Based on real data, the TEI study includes a composite model company to show the effect of Workfront’s deployment on a large enterprise. Forrester describes its model organization as a “multi-billion-dollar business-to-consumer organization provides sales, marketing, customer support, and is constantly innovating and creating new products. The organization has a strong brand, global operations, employing 20,000 people.”

Productivity: Increase workforce productivity by unleashing people’s time and talent. 

The overall productivity benefits experienced by the composite totalled $22,644,452. For example, the Marketing team avoided operational losses and increased productivity, resulting in benefits of $1,784,261 over two years.

Focus: Do the right work the first time. 

Workfront helped the strategic program office nearly eliminate status meetings and corresponding preparation time, along with unnecessary portfolio and project administration. Streamlining management led to a one-year benefit of $267,971.

Visibility: Centralize visibility with an undisputed data source to plan, prioritize, and execute work. 

Seeing everything in one centralized solution helps organizations make better decisions. The overall savings due to decreased project duration was $4,259,955. 

For example, centralized visibility helped the IT PMO to prioritize work, streamline processes, and apply predictive modeling. The resulting increase in productivity produced a three-year benefit of $13,784,760. In a second example, having an undisputed data source helped the 400-person product development office plan, prioritize, and execute work—and predict delays and rework, reducing project length by two weeks and increasing productivity for a total savings of $1,067,505. “Our goal is to work more efficiently and seamlessly together so we can increase our output,” an IT PMO team lead told Forrester in one of the real-world enterprises interviewed for the TEI study.

Unlock the power to pivot, deliver, and win.

In today’s uncertain times, it has never been more important for teams to know they are working on the most strategically valuable tasks and getting them right the first time. It is more important than ever for executives to have an undisputed data source about work across people, teams, departments, and the whole enterprise. 

Forrester’s new TEI study makes a compelling case for the unparalleled benefits of Workfront. It shows how enterprises are using Workfront successfully to centralize visibility into all work, keep teams productive on the right work, and replan, reprioritize, and deliver. Successful enterprises use Workfront to thrive amid change—and win.


You can read the full Forrester Total Economic Impact™ of Workfront Study and watch the webinar with Workfront and guests, Forrester’s report authors.

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