I'm a front end developer eager to enhance the relationship between designers and developers. I’ve been using an online collaboration app for a personal project. I’m completely satisfied with this tool however I would like to promote it in my corporation. This tool helps me doing things faster however I couldn’t estimate the time saved.

How would you convince your boss to pay for a productivity tool if you can’t show him numbers and money saved?

  • 2
    We typically refer people with a question of this nature to the semi-canonical question "How do I request new equipment for the office?". Does that question match what you wanted to ask?
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 11:57
  • @Lilienthal, I'm inclined to think this is a different question. This question refers specifically to productivity tools which you cannot demonstrate to be money savers. Almost all the answers on that question basically say, "Demonstrate return" or "Demonstrate health issues." But that's just my inclination. :)
    – anonymous2
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 12:01
  • 3
    @anonymous2 if you cannot demonstrate the money saving of a productivity tool, what productivity is it generating for you? If it saves time, it can be in a general way be related to the hourly pay of the worker. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 13:38
  • @Mindwin, I think that's the point of the question. The trouble (at least in my experience) is making the join for the boss between a productivity tool with no particular numbers attached and the time saved. It's not always that easy to do, and it's the facet of this question which I don't really see in the other question. But again, just my personal opinion. :)
    – anonymous2
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 13:56

3 Answers 3


This is a major issue in IT; we face it all the time. I would personally recommend several things.

1. Don't take your boss by surprise.

In other words, don't just mention out of the blue, "Say, we need to upgrade our servers," or pop it on him while he happens to be walking through your section. Either write him a detailed e-mail (concise, mind you!), request a short meeting, or even write or print it up on paper. Your boss will take something more seriously if (s)he can see that you take it seriously.

2. Make comparison

This is a key point that I have found quite effective. It works best in a real interview, which I try to steer something along these lines.


I really don't see the need for this equipment. It doesn't appear to produce much if any ROI (Return on Investment).


Mr. XXX, how often do you replace your cell-phone?

Boss: (usually a bit surprised)

Well, usually I replace it every 2 years, but what does that have to do with anything? That's a personal expense, not designed to produce an ROI.


Mr. XXX, my point exactly. I do the same thing. Why? Because it's more convenient to be up to date. Because the newer equipment usually works better. Because the newer equipment should save time. Not because there is a definite or precise ROI, just because it is a useful tool.

It's the same way with our servers. We don't need new servers; the old ones are still working. However, it would improve our company, in that it is more convenient to be up to date, it usually saves time, works better, and overall simply improves company morale and spirit.

Furthermore, in your programmers' eyes, new equipment tends to make the company appear a more desirable place to work, which will give you more satisfied employees and a greater hiring capacity.

3. Link to something tangible.

As I did in the last paragraph of that interview, that link doesn't need to be financial. But whatever it is, you should be able to demonstrate to your employer how (s)he and the company will benefit from this newer equipment.

  • Employee asks me cell phone question. Me - pulls out original Motorola RAZR (yes, that is what I use) and says 'It makes phone calls just as well as any smartphone' (and prays that the employee doesn't ask about the crappy coverage from T-Mobile.)
    – Peter M
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 12:52
  • @PeterM, lol. Of course, no approach will work with every boss; people are people, and have personalities. It's just an approach that has worked for me in the past. :)
    – anonymous2
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 12:59
  • I hadn't heard of that comparison before and I understand and agree that its an interesting approach. OTOH says me with the RAZR and the 15 year old car, if something is doing its job and not costing money in maintenance then there is no need to upgrade.
    – Peter M
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 13:05

I would suggest a rather simple demonstration along the lines of:

  1. Tell your manager: It took me X number of hours to hand code this ( your MGR should be able to do the math based on your hourly rate how much that cost )
  2. Show your manager the suite of tools and explain that the piece you build is included in the suite of tools you would like to purchase.
  3. Send your MGR the link to the customer testimonials section of the companies/products website. If the company is any good, they will have a section where other managers praise the product and cost savings.
  4. Don't forget to mention how the product includes support and ongoing security upgrades. ( Additional items you don't have to worry about )

One of the issue is there are a ton of free libraries out there for most modern technologies, especially if we are talking web or mobile applications, so you will have to make a strong case.

It all comes down to cost, and the time to market potential savings.


If this is a collaboration app, you may want to discuss this with those you'll be using it with. That may or may not include your boss. Others may be able to add to your argument and find benefits you didn't think of.

Without any data, suggest a trial period, so you can get some. In the mean time, you should establish some baseline data on how long things take for you to do them now. It could be a matter of tracking how much time you spend on similar tasks.

Although some may not see this as objective, have a list of situations where having such a tool would have improved the process. Of course there are time restrictions to everything, but I would think causing a client a problem because people didn't collaborate well (sent the wrong version of a file), would add to the argument.

The key to trial periods from a manager's perspective is he won't feel like if he lets you use it and it doesn't work, he won't feel like he's stuck with it. Risk management is very important.

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