When it comes to implementing new productivity software, Atlassian or otherwise, the aim of the game is to achieve a better return on investment (ROI) than your current set up. However, many companies end up dissatisfied with the level of ROI realised. When we dig deeper, we often find they haven’t gone far past choosing the right software, migrating their data and handing out logins. Investing substantially and quickly, taking care to configure your system correctly, and having a continual improvement mindset will put you on the path to realising your desired ROI sooner, rather than later. In this post, I’ll explain why and how.

There’s more than one type of productivity software ROI.

Firstly, a correctly configured, high performing productivity platform can deliver business value in tangible, easily measurable ways – i.e. the money you make or save as a result of:

  • shortening a process;
  • shortening a product cycle;
  • reducing cycle effort;
  • increased output quality;
  • better decisions based on better information.

We know that Atlassian tools deliver an incredible ROI. A Forrester Total Economic Impact™ Study commissioned by Atlassian in June 2019 found that Jira Service Desk has the potential to provide an ROI of 246%. 

Then there are the less tangible types of value like increased staff satisfaction and a reduction in staff stress which may translate into fewer sick days and higher productivity and retention.

While more challenging to calculate, it’s possible to measure significant positive changes in terms of your bottom line, revenue and customer perception as a result of solving problems more quickly, or delivering a new product or service to your customers more quickly than a competitor (or in response to a competitor). You can imagine the difference it would make for a software client to go from releasing code once a month to releasing new code once a day by using Atlassian. We’ve had customers report to DI productivity gains of up to 50%.

So, what can you do to get the best possible ROI from your new Atlassian tools?

Seeing a decent, rapid ROI on your investment in an Atlassian system depends on running a really tight ship, so to speak, and getting the most out of your tools. Your system needs to be well configured from the get-go and governed across time to ensure rapid improvement. This means making sure several things happen.

Firstly, configure your system correctly at the start. Set yourself up for success by having your tools set up correctly so that they work for every member of the organisation. If you don’t, you’ll end up in what I call Process Debt. Think of your configuration and processes as the foundation of a building. If you continually add rooms, and people without first investing effort in creating a solid foundation that can support them, and ensuring it’s maintained, holes or ‘debts’ appear in your building. Set your tools and workflows up properly (or have them re-built) and continually govern them so you don’t go into process debt and you’ll avoid having to invest time and money to fill those holes and lose ROI in the process.

Furthermore, be aware of existing process debts before migrating to Atlassian. Keep in mind the saying “Rubbish in, rubbish out” – if you neglect process debt and simply migrate existing processes into a new system, you’ll still end up with the same mess you started with. This generally happens because of the “It’s not my job” mindset, so the investment in correcting any process debt needs to come from an executive level.

Permissions are critical here, too. Giving people the correct level of access to the tools they use, and only those tools, is essential in maintaining the quality of the data in your systems and the integrity of the processes you set up at the beginning. It also ensures you can collaborate confidently with third parties without sacrificing confidentiality.

Secondly, bring all your teams together under one roof. One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make that reduces their potential ROI is limiting their use of Atlassian in the organisation. Allowing silos to exist and persisting with numerous systems which don’t talk to each other costs time, and therefore money. 

You’ll achieve a better ROI by ensuring every team, and every function is involved. From a financial perspective, consolidating disparate productivity software systems reduces licence costs, reduces maintenance costs and prevents unnecessary duplication of instances of the same software. Fewer different software systems, integrations and plugins also mean fewer complications and less infrastructure risk when you are upgrading.

Less tangibly, using Atlassian to organise work across your entire company allows your people to collaborate more efficiently – you essentially have easy access to everyone in the organisation. Think of it this way – every minute a team member spends chasing updates, searching through emails and trying to coordinate work between multiple, disparate teams and their individual systems is money lost. Furthermore, having all teams under one roof provides decision-makers with greater visibility as to what the priority tasks are that will deliver the most value to the organisation in the least amount of time. Again, this does mean that the conversation about tooling needs to happen at an executive level where the decision-maker has oversight of the entire organisation, rather than an individual team level.

Thirdly, foster a culture of rapid, continual process improvement. Altassian is not a ‘set and forget’ system, and doing so will severely limit the ROI you can achieve by using it. Historically, IT has purchased software, installed it and handed the keys over to the user, without any further action. Atlassian, however, is a bit like LEGO: you can add new parts, buy new blocks, make existing bits better, even re-build it if you need to, all according to your organisation’s ever-changing needs.

With such a configurable system you’re never finished, but that’s where the real value of Atlassian lies. There is no shortage of ideas to improve the system and the ROI compounds as you add and integrate more tools – if you make your team 2% faster this week, and then 2% faster next week, you’ll find the value adds up to more than 4% in total.

We recommend having professionals, like the DI team, provide you with this LEGO set in the first instance (see my first point), and then they can guide you on which improvements to make and how to make them.

A focus on process improvement can be daunting for some organisations and a breeze for others. We recognise that the appetite for change varies; however, the level of ROI organisations can realise directly relates to how much and how quickly they are willing to invest in these improvements.

Then, get educated. Yes, people will pick things up as they use the tools, but if you don’t train your people to use the tools correctly, and to their fullest extent, there’s no doubt you’ll end up with a less than stellar ROI. On the flip-side, some organisations make the mistake of getting everyone administrator training, even for those who aren’t experts in the tools and only use one or two applications, when it’s not necessary.

Targeted training that suits each person’s role is far more beneficial. For example, if you are a senior project manager, you’ll be doing portfolio management so you’ll need to use Big Picture (a plugin that sits on top of Jira). If you’re a developer, you’ll be using Jira, Bamboo and Bitbucket, whereas if you are in marketing, you’ll be using Jira Core and Confluence. If you are in Service Desk, you’ll be using Jira Service Desk and Mindville Asset Management. 

DI sees training and education as part of the improvement phase: people need training on the applications and plugins they use every day and then again when they are improved. 

Finally, but most importantly, allocate enough capital early on. The sooner you invest, and the more you spend, the faster you’ll see returns. It comes down to a throughput of improvements – if there are 100 ideas to improve, are you going to do two a month or 10? There are no limits to the number of improvements you can make, or the speed with which you can make to your Atlassian ‘LEGO’ set, the only limit is the investment you are willing to make. 

The speed with which your ROI possibility, the value delivered, productivity gains, quality improvement, automation possibilities are all achieved is directly related to how quickly and how substantially you invest.

You can also see that once you have a mature system with sound foundations in place, you can start reaching for a potentially higher level of ROI with supply chain integration and automation. This is where you connect your Atlassian tools with your supplier’s system, making your processes even more efficient.

We really believe that Agile working is the future, and the sooner you start using a powerful tool like Atlassian, the sooner you will realise the benefits. Design Industries can accelerate that journey – we’ve got lots of ideas and experience that we’d love to share.