The ROI of going paperless.

The ROI of going paperless.

The ROI of going paperless.

The ROI of going paperless.

The ROI of going paperless.

The ROI of going paperless.

The ROI of going paperless.

A common question that we receive when teams start looking to implement Drawboard Projects is "what's the return on investment of this?". Let's take a look!

We're regularly asked "what's the return on investment (ROI) ?" by teams looking to implement Drawboard Projects.

What we've come to realize is that people aren't just asking us what's the ROI on our software. They're asking what the ROI is for going completely paperless.

Most of us know that if we reduce the volume of printing in the workplace, we're going to save money with reduced printing expenses. However, there are so many more benefits to consider

We've taken some insights from organizations currently using Drawboard Projects to help showcase the wider benefits that going paperless can have.

What's the problem teams are trying to solve?

An ROI analysis needs to align directly with the tangible needs of an organization.

When speaking to teams that are currently using Drawboard Projects, there were 3 repeated refrains that keep coming up:

1. Margin erosion

Margin erosion accumulates through poor coordination between teams and individuals, lack of collaboration throughout project delivery, and lack of accountability for quality of the work completed.

These areas further contribute to a higher likelihood of rework and in-field adjustments during construction or application of the design. This in turn leads to uncompensated changes, which are absorbed by the business, reducing profit margins on projects.

2. Workflow optimization

By adopting a truly digital review process that allows for real-time collaboration, businesses remove several layers of handling including:

  • Downloading files
  • Printing/reviewing on screen
  • Exporting and uploading, and then
  • Emailing across the team

3. Overheads

Running traditional design frameworks with printing-based review processes can lead to excessive printing costs, as well as the high costs of owning and maintaining the printers and technology themselves.

drawboard projects devices paperless office

Why it's important to address these problems now

With the majority of organizations choosing to take on a hybrid working approach instead of implementing a full-time return to the office, there's never been a better time to embrace cloud technology to transition to a digital markup workflow.

The traditional way of completing drawing reviews and collecting feedback with printed copies is not a sustainable option. Here's 3 reasons why:

  1. Paper adds an additional and unnecessary step to the review process. Most organizations go from digital, to paper, then back to digital which is unproductive.
  2. With most teams now working remotely, team members don't have the ability to print in their home office.
  3. The environmental impact of paper usage, print cartridges and electricity consumption is untenable for a modern organization.

Alternatively, the perks of a cloud-based markup system are endless. Designers can mark up designs in real-time, drafters can have instant changes right in front of their eyes and senior management don't have to deal with the issues that arise from lost print-outs.

How real-time digital markup can impact your business

Implementing a team-based solution not only helps organizations save time, energy and resources, but it can generate more positive returns as outlined below.

Easier coordination

Modern technology is about making it as easy as possible for everyone to communicate changes, regardless of physical location.

By investing in Drawboard Projects, teams are able to complete digital markups in real-time with both internal and external stakeholders. No matter where in the world a team might be everyone can be a part of the review process. This saves valuable project time as everyone is marking up in the same place with the ability to provide instantaneous feedback.

Improved collaboration

It's even more critical for teams working remotely to have access to collaborative software. The ability for teams to review designs together from any location and have markups synced within seconds streamlines workflows in the design review lifecycle.

Higher quality and improved accountability

User-based licensing allows for clear accountability and designers are taking a lot more care in their work and getting things right the first time. This directly results in fewer rounds of reviews, and a more efficient team.

Reducing excessive printing

By using a collaborative and real-time workspace for design review like Drawboard Projects, printing costs relating to drawings production are eliminated - which is the first step towards digital transformation.

Reducing handling times

When you have all team members working on documents and drawing in the same place, it mean you're switching from a sequential workflow to a collaborative workflow. This change can eliminate days off the review process due to team members not having to wait for 'their turn' to provide feedback.

With these savings, organizations all over the world are delivering a higher quality product for their clients and seeing a greater margin ROI. Which ultimately means that they can bid in a more competitive way on future projects.

drawboard projects device roi of the paperless office

What's the financial ROI?

After completing a review from a selection of our customers, we have found that on average, within one month of implementing our software, the savings gained in efficiency and printing outweigh the cost of yearly licensing.

Some of the factors contributing to these savings include:

  • Reduced end-to-end design time
  • Enabling remote collaboration in real-time, on any device (iOS, Windows 10 and web)
  • Improved accountability and decision making
  • Enhanced QA/QC
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) licensing benefits
  • Immediate savings on printing related costs

Overall, you could expect* annual savings of:

  • $9,897 per team member due to time efficiency improvements, plus
  • $5,026 per project due to the elimination of printing paper sheets, plus
  • $25,000 per firm on printer maintenance  
$9,897 per team member due to time efficiency improvements, plus$5,026 per project due to the elimination of printing paper sheets, plus$25,000 per firm on printer maintenance
Cumulative savings due to Drawboard Projects adoption.

*see calculations at the bottom of this article

How much of a saving is that for my team?

Depending on the size of your team, and how many projects you complete each year, the cost savings will vary.

You can adjust the values in the following calculator to get a more accurate number for you team, but we have shared some savings examples below based on common team sizes and annual project delivery.

  • A team of 5 completing 8 projects per year saves around $89,693
  • A team of 10 completing 12 projects per year around $150,209
  • A team of 50 completing 20 projects per year around $595,370


  • No matter how big or small your team is, adopting a collaborative and real-time workspace for design review is going to save you money in efficiency and printing.
  • There are many variables that play into this, and the savings will differ on a case by case basis.
  • The impact of moving from a sequential workflow to a collaborative workflow, can be substantial. Cost savings aside, it can lead to faster project delivery, freeing team members to do what they do best, and supporting a more agile work environment.
  • Digital transformation is critical to the success of all businesses moving forward, and being able to optimize around getting the best results from your team can be challenging.

If you're interested in discussing how implementing Drawboard Projects may help your team save valuable project time by streamlining workflows in the design review lifecycle, start your free trial today.

Workings for ROI calculations

We have used industry averages to determine hourly rates, as well as chargeable hours before applying the efficiency improvement rates.

At a high level we are assuming that the improvements in workflows and handling alone will generate a 15% efficiency improvements for 50 engineers/Architects/CAD operators. This is a very conservative rate and we believe you can do much better than 15% once running smoothly.

We are working with a rate of $50 per hour (or $90k salary) on average for 1800 hours (48 weeks) annually, and with 75% of their time charged to a project. This equates total of $67,500 in chargeable hours.

With a 15% efficiency rate applied and subtracting the licence cost, we get an annual saving of $9,897 per team member.

Salary: $50 x 1800 hours (48 weeks) = 90k
Chargeable hours to project: 75% = $67,500
Efficiency average: 15% = $10,125
Licence cost per user is $228 annually
Annual saving per team member: $10,125 - 228 = $9,897

In additional to the above, when analysing three projects within one major design firm, we identified some average project-based statistics with regards to drawing numbers and prints for additional cost savings:

Pre-Drawboard Projects prints calculated by a major design firm.
Pre-Drawboard Projects prints calculated by a major design firm.

Over the above projects that is an average of 38,666 prints that can be avoided.

The cost of a printer with the appropriate software to complete this within an office would be approx. $25,000 annually, and the cost per color A3 sheet printed itself is $0.13.

That's an additional $5,026 in savings per project, as well as $25,000 annually that you are saving on printing alone.

About Drawboard

We are a PDF and collaboration company. We believe that creating more effective connections between people reduces waste.

Our best work has been overtaken by busywork. That’s why we’ve created ways to help people get back to working wonders without any paper in sight.

Drawboard PDF lets you mark up and share with ease, and Drawboard Projects brings collaborative design review to architecture and engineering teams.

At Drawboard, we work our magic so our customers can get back to working theirs.

Stay in touch

Message received - stay tuned for updates in your inbox soon!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Please try again.
Get started with
Drawboard PDF