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Ask DN: How do I/Should I fight for design tools?

over 6 years ago from , ⚡️Design

So my company has essentially refused to pay LayerVault's subscription fees. We (2 designers) have chosen to use Sketch which isn't a necessity but I would think a "design-driven" company doing ~40M & cashflow pos. would pony-up so their design team could collaborate...especially after both of us were told that anything we need, we should just let procurement know. Also, basically everyone in the marketing department who does design has CC subscriptions (multiple accounts).

Anyone else faced something similar to this in their company? Am I missing something?

Any advice or feedback is appreciated.

36 comments

  • Pasquale D'SilvaPasquale D'Silva, over 6 years ago

    I'd quit on the spot.

    But if you can't do that - I'd talk to your lead and tell them they are throwing money in the bin by not cultivating the best creative environment and workflow.

    18 points
    • Ashraf AliAshraf Ali, over 6 years ago

      Okay, that' s extreme. I have this same situation at work. The way I do it is going the extra mile up and down the chain to explain the benefits of the tool and then follow up multiple times. It's tedious and inefficent but when you have to work with an existing agency's structure, it is part of the game. At the same time, you also have another person in stow which gives you leverage.

      I recommend rallying up the designers first. Then you rally up your immediate boss. Then go to the higher echelon. And finally, an executive if need be.

      7 points
    • Chris CChris C, over 6 years ago

      Trust me, I definitely wanted to and definitely could but I'm always in favor of trying to find out the source of the problem and see why something like this happened.

      I'd like to be a part of the solution if possible.

      1 point
    • Nathan NNathan N, over 6 years ago

      I'd quit on the spot.

      It seems like this is the usual response any time this topic is brought up. Why is that?

      I mean last week DN told an IT worker in India to quit his job because he couldn't freely use a company provided PC in a corporate environment.

      Sometimes things just don't happen in corporate environments and you have to learn to either work around it or do as others have suggested and work towards a solution.

      5 points
  • Joe AlfonsoJoe Alfonso, over 6 years ago

    You're a designer so half your job is selling. Try your best to sell them on the fact that this tool could improve workflow. When speaking about it though, try to get right to the bottom line, time savings and efficiency. Getting more done in less time and with better results regard of what tool it is. It's not about them "ponying up" to pay for something you see as a benefit. It's about what value they/you will get out of the investment. Good luck!

    9 points
    • Chris C, over 6 years ago

      I agree with most of that and that's how the initial conversation started out – describing benefits of time-saving, collaboration, and comparing it to the clunky way we are trying to do things now. It was solely the price they were concerned with.

      It just blows my mind that I even HAVE to try and sell a better process/workflow tool for a design team to a tech company wherein everyone related to product preaches about user-centered design and UX in every meeting.

      I don't think I'm a bad seller. I just think I'm dealing with the wrong buyers.

      0 points
    • Pasquale D'SilvaPasquale D'Silva, over 6 years ago

      Oh man, having to sell your team on an argument that he needs good tools to do good work? That shouldn't have to be his job.

      7 points
      • Chris C, over 6 years ago

        Absolutely 100% agree.

        It's actually SO damn ironic that I'm designing software for this company that enables people to communicate and collaborate...yet they have a problem supporting that same idea amongst their own people.

        1 point
      • Jim SilvermanJim Silverman, over 6 years ago

        Oh man, having to sell your team on an argument that he needs good tools to do good work?

        yes. regardless of the depth of their pockets, a company isn't going to pay willy-nilly for any tool an employee requests. a case must be made to validate the expense. if you are requesting your company to provide a tool, it's up to you to explain how it will benefit your workflow, your team and the company.

        0 points
        • Pasquale D'SilvaPasquale D'Silva, over 6 years ago

          Doesn't work that way at my company, or the last few I've worked at. We treat our employees like responsible adults and not babies.

          If you can't trust that your employees aren't wasting your money, you remove them from the company.

          It doesn't have to be that complicated.

          0 points
          • Jim SilvermanJim Silverman, over 6 years ago

            i guess that works for well-funded, super-small startups? for most companies, it's irresponsible not to thoroughly vet tools before spending the money to purchase/subscribe. money spent affects everyone, so there's more to consider than how it affects a designer's workflow.

            also, i'm not familiar with layervault's enterprise pricing, but i suspect it isn't a trivial expense. it requires a group decision.

            1 point
            • Pasquale D'SilvaPasquale D'Silva, over 6 years ago

              Sure! That's a fair call.

              This company clearly makes bank, according to OP though. Not investing that in employees is saddening.

              0 points
  • Jason BishopJason Bishop, over 6 years ago

    The best advice I can give you, is to make a solid case for the procurement. Speak in terms and a language that they respond to.

    If it's cost versus ROI, talk about how much they would save and how much more productive your small team will be with these tools. Be specific, use numbers and charts. Make a really nice presentation of it all, in fact make it a design project.

    Include some preemptive answers to questions you know or think they'll ask right away. Include all the pricing, options and recommendations in your presentation. Tell them about the importance of backing up, versioning and centralized collaboration. Argue the costs of LayerVault versus the cost of losing backups or maintaining servers and unreliable external drives.

    Lastly, back up your case by providing a client list of LayerVault and testimonials.

    Prove your case to them with a clear, thorough and undeniable evidence-based presentation in their language.

    I was able to get Adobe CC and LayerVault through procurement for a 10-person design team using this technique.

    2 points
  • Caleb SylvestCaleb Sylvest, over 6 years ago

    While the services LayerVault offer are awesome, and I totally get where you are coming from, is using the LayerVault tools actually necessary? They certainly seem to add a layer of collaboration and cool stuff that could make working with a team better/easier, but how many teams out there actually use it? So far I have worked at three medium to large companies and only used either an internal media server or Dropbox.

    And if it really seems important to use, present your case, and try the free trial with whoever makes the ultimate decision.

    2 points
  • Paul @StammyPaul @Stammy, over 6 years ago

    Tell them you lost a critical months-long design due to a hard disk issue and this could have been avoided by LayerVault storage/revisions. Only takes one of those to serve as a wake up call..

    2 points
    • Chris CChris C, over 6 years ago

      That actually did happen not long ago. It was about a week's worth of work though. Sucked just as much as losing a month. I'll definitely bring that up if I have to as a selling point.

      0 points
  • Zethus SuenZethus Suen, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    The best way to convince appropriations peeps is #'s.

    • Show them the cost of CC and that they don't offer collaborative features.
    • Show them the cost of Sketch + Layervault (and honestly 2 LV licenses is NOTHING for any company doing 40M).
    • Estimate the amount of hours that you spend emulating LV's product offerings, multiply by your estimated hourly rates, and see how much you save by using Layervault.

    Note: Sketch has autosave that cannot be disabled, so when you sync it with Layervault, you will see ALOT of saves. Make sure to use & abuse the 'mark as revision' feature.

    2 points
    • Chris C, over 6 years ago

      Thanks for the response and tips, man – good stuff.

      I actually have a call tomorrow with Dave from LayerVault (he actually reached out via email to offer his help) and we're going to try and tackle this problem together.

      0 points
    • Daniel WinterDaniel Winter, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      Short info: I explained here how to disable sketch's autosave, so you could keep your timeline clean. as I save a lot, I really don't need the autosave anyway :)

      Long story short:

      defaults write $(osascript -e 'id of application "Sketch"') ApplePersistence -bool no

      in Terminal, and it deactivates your autosave :)

      1 point
  • Derryl CarterDerryl Carter, over 6 years ago

    You'd be surprised at what things a company will deny.

    1 point
  • Wes OudshoornWes Oudshoorn, over 6 years ago

    I would pay for it privately and skip work an hour every work to compensate.

    Otherwise, if you're in a position where you cannot be trusted to spend a few bucks to improve your work, I'd strongly suggest you find another place to work. Too much talent is wasted by stupid company structures.

    1 point
    • Zethus SuenZethus Suen, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      Paying out of pocket and skipping work is equally as bad as the company refusing to pay for it. If you talk to the company in a civil manner with a logical proposal and they refuse; the problem lies within the company structure and you should consider leaving. It's naive and passive-aggressive to jeopardize your own work ethic to get back at them for not paying for a service.

      2 points
    • Chris CChris C, over 6 years ago

      Hahah this cracked me up.

      I do tend to be a bit passive aggressive when it comes to most things but I'd probably just leave if I was going to go down that road.

      1 point
  • Aaron WhiteAaron White, over 6 years ago

    Clarification Questions:

    Who said no? Lead, Manager, Someone Higher Up, IT? Do you currently have CC subscriptions? Was it LayerVaults fees? Security Issues? Process Integration?

    My team did a pilot with LayerVault, ultimately we didn't continue with it (sadly), however I recall a few major selling points:

    • Dropbox Integration (which didn't get very far up the ladder, especially with IT)
    • Free Observer accounts
    • Annotations

    Not knowing your specific situation, my team went with LayerVault and Sketch... and we asked for permission later. We expensed everything on our CC's and got it approved since it was a fairly low cost expense. After a few months we did have to strong arm IT into getting Sketch and Slack supported even though it's only our team using those apps (about 15 people).

    Once you have those tools in place, it will be a bit more difficult to say no or to stop using them... Good Luck

    0 points
    • Chris C, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      Well...it's an interesting situation actually. They've failed to set up a proper structure within the company in regards to design. Both I and another designer report to a development director which is the majority of the problem. I mean...he suggested using SVN for version control on our sketch files haha

      The company provides CC subscriptions for about 5-6 other people in marketing and I used to have it before I switched my workflow over to Sketch. So, they are clearly paying more for those subscriptions than they would be for 2 LV accounts.

      I would love to take the opportunity and expense it myself but in my mind, I shouldn't have to.

      Thanks for the insight into how you went about it.

      0 points
      • Aaron WhiteAaron White, over 6 years ago

        Sounds like you have some bigger challenges than just getting LayerVault... I think for dealing with Dev directors, you'll need to showcase the Visual feedback aspects and collaboration within the organization and downplay the version control aspect.

        Off Topic Question... We're still using SVN?

        2 points
  • Marko NikolovskiMarko Nikolovski, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Maybe instead of telling them how much they will save, turn it around and tell them they're losing an X amount of money per week/month. Individuals dislike losing much more than they like saving.

    EDIT: Or you can wait until they need something done yesterday to politely tell them that if you had the tools which cost peanuts it would've been done yesterday.

    0 points
  • Ryan Hicks, over 6 years ago

    I've never worked at a place that used Layer Vault or Invision. I'm currently trying to swing Invision and slack for our agency. Curious as to why you are seeking LV instead of IA? I don't think it'd be a game changer for you, but would make workflow easier yes. Hell I've used my own laptop for work at one of my jobs and was the only one in the office without a dual monitor setup while being the only designer in the office (the one that actually needed the setup didn't have it). There are people out there far worse off than you are in their work environment. Don't sweat it just do good work.

    0 points
    • Chris C, over 6 years ago

      Well we've got all our assets in Sketch and InVision doesn't support Sketch yet and probably won't for some time.

      And I feel your pain about not having the right equipment. Our developers here get new retina MBP's pretty regularly, all the managers have retina MBP's. I see why it's good for morale but you really don't need all that power and screen real estate to write JS, HTML, CSS, and run a local web server or just take meeting notes.

      The cost of one of those computers would be approx. 4 years worth of subscription fees for LayerVault....

      0 points
  • Jonathan YapJonathan Yap, over 6 years ago

    That's why I buy my own things, so I can keep them. ;D

    Not the best way of doing thing, but its at least my way of bringing in tools to work. Its a little silly sometimes, but it worked for me.

    Maybe you can try tracking your time and ask for a period to trial the workflow for your work process. Try make it a case and have evidence to back your case. (kinda like A/B testing)

    Its usually easier to throw in the towel, but its sometimes up to us to educate the rest. Unfortunately, not everyone get to work in a company that are all early adopters or as open in helping you work better. Must be something to do with comfort and profits. :(

    0 points