Wrike Founder Andrew Filev Talks Enterprise Work Management and the Collaborative Canvas

Andrew Filev, Wrike (©Citrix)

The challenge of consolidating work within an organization has become even more pressing in a time of hybrid working, employee disengagement and continued economic disruption. At diginomica, we have been studying this challenge for many years, proposing the concept of the collaborative canvas as a framework for joint digital teamwork across the enterprise. But one of the major work management providers we’ve never caught up to is Wrike, which tech giant Citrix acquired for $2.25 billion last year. Following the company’s launch of a new Quick Start model this week, here are some of the key takeaways from my long-awaited conversation with Andrew Filev, Founder of Wrike and now Senior Vice President and General Manager of Wrike at Citrix.

Founded in 2006, Wrike was an early proponent of collaborative work management. It views workflow, rather than documents, messaging, or tasks, as the key to linking work to results. As Filev explains:

We are not bound by any document. We’re not even connected by a Zoom call, a Zoom call is just immediate. What we are connected by is either our team, our organizational unit, or we are connected by a process – and often teams and processes go hand in hand. Where we are bound by the common outcomes – it’s a cross-team collaboration where we work together… This is where I think work management platforms have an edge.

The dark matter of work

But the challenge for most companies is that few processes are connected in this way. Filev has a concept he calls the “dark matter” of business workflows, likening these hidden workflows to the 95% of matter in the universe that scientists know is there but can’t detect. Wrike recently released the results of a global survey of business leaders and knowledge workers on the cost of this dark matter of labor. He finds that more than half of all work is not visible to key stakeholders, while wasted time spent on unproductive meetings, duplicate efforts, information retrieval and status checks cost organizations millions of dollars in wasted time, delayed or canceled projects, and employee turnover. Workflows that rely on ad hoc messaging, spreadsheets, and other fixes are especially vulnerable in times of rapid change. Filev comments:

When companies try to scale at the rate they are forced to scale today, that’s when things start to break.

He cites the example of Airbnb, which previously used shared Google Sheets to manage its Experiences local business offering. turn to Wrike when the volume of activity has become overwhelming. He says:

They were coordinating launches in at least thirty different cities, and each of those launches had multiple teams collaborating, including legal teams… Our champion, who was not a computer scientist of any background or background, deployed Wrike…to actually manage these workloads and launch them successfully and then scale them.

So I think digital pace and scalability is something that turns our vitamin solution into a painkiller, where spreadsheets and Slack messages have totally overwhelmed them.

Wrike in business

Other large-scale customers include Walmart Canada, manufacturing and IT giant Siemens, and its largest unnamed customer, which has nearly 100,000 users. Support for scalability and other essentials for large enterprises, such as security and governance, are an important part of Wrike’s proposition. It has built-in integration capability from a leading iPaaS vendor to allow it to connect to hundreds of SaaS and on-premises applications, and a BI platform to help visualize what’s happening in the business. organization, with the ability to drill into high-level KPIs for underlying metrics in real-time across individual projects, teams, and workflows. Intelligent automation and recommendations are also part of the offer. All of this provides a rich solution for large-scale deployment. Filev comments:

This is where you can really experience that connectivity in the enterprise. This is where you see multiple teams collaborating. This is where you see them focusing on their results.

This all depends, of course, on each team’s ability to use Wrike. Therefore, the company has developed configurations suitable for the different use cases of various teams, such as the need of marketing to work with digital assets, the robust project management requirements of professional services teams, the agile needs and focused on engineering or IT projects, etc. on. All of these different configurations run on the same platform and its underlying working graph, a database that maps the different components and their relationships. This versatility is at the heart of the proposal, as Filev explains:

You can have one platform for 100,000 users, and these different teams and departments will run their own setup, and those setups would compete with the base solutions that they have. So, for example…we’re replacing some very expensive commodity marketing solutions, like marketing resource management tools, digital asset management tools, with the generic platform that works just as well for other teams that have nothing to do with marketing. Likewise in program management… PPM [and] PSA solutions that, again, are very specific, very powerful, designed for those use cases — we’re replacing them with our generic platform that’s versatile and powerful enough for them to be happy with.

Then, on top of that, they have the advantage of being a platform for the whole enterprise, very modern, excellent UX, great collaboration capabilities, integration with hundreds of tools and all the other good things… The marketing team can sit in the same account as an engineering team, and you can mention an engineer who can then look at the same item and can integrate the same item into their workflows.

Land and expand

The success of this approach is reflected in numbers such as an average annual recurring revenue (ARR) of $10,000 per customer, which Filex says is “between 2x and 5x” the ARR recorded by competitors such as Monday. and Smartsheet, while at the top end it says Wrike replaced Workfront (now owned by Adobe) in deals up to seven figures. Accounts generating more than a quarter million dollars in ARR grew 55% last year. But as is typical in the digital teamworkspace, most accounts start small, with one or two teams adopting the product for specific use cases before adoption then spreads. to other teams.

This week’s new offering aims to accelerate this landing and expansion movement. The new service management solution model is designed for use by any business function that provides help or assistance to others in the organization, including finance, IT and human resources. To expand its reach, Wrike has also launched a new feature to correspond with non-Wrike users via email from within the platform. The service management model includes an out-of-the-box service and request management process, dashboards to monitor task progress, incident and service request tracking, and the ability to create a self-service knowledge base.

The new model supports Wrike recently introduced custom item types, which allows teams to configure their own work item types. For example, marketing teams can set up campaigns, assets, and creative briefs, while agile teams can create user stories, epics, and releases, as well as structure all work into sprints. This extends the flexibility with which sales teams can configure models without any coding or the need for IT support. Filev comments:

The market opens to early majority and late majority, so the bar for entry should be even lower. We are working on initiatives that will allow any team, anywhere to jump onto the platform.

At this entry level, it’s very difficult to differentiate because users don’t need much. But at least what we can offer them is that they have a very simple upgrade path to the most powerful and versatile product, instead of being stuck with their platform of entry level, where they suddenly have to expand to another team in their company, or their company starts to grow.

A single platform also makes it easy for people to connect to all the different systems and data sources they need to work across the organization. This is where digital teamwork needs to go next, Filev believes. He explains:

Where I think the next trend here is to make it easier for users to bring human actions and machine actions together in one workflow… It’s not just, hey, let’s connect the systems , or let’s connect people. It’s, hey, can we actually, in a workflow, bring humans and different systems together and orchestrate all of this towards results – and give visibility to progress, both on an individual track and then, if you run a big company, you don’t just care about the singular thread, you care about 1000 of them.

Being part of Citrix makes it easier to access big business insights and close complex deals, but so far Wrike has had to keep building out its platform and going to market. Filev comments:

[It’s a] good vision, good partnership, but we are mostly operating independently at the moment, focusing on growth and the market.

my catch

At the heart of our Collaborative Canvas concept is the belief that all work in a business should be anchored in a shared digital fabric that supports the connections necessary to enable truly seamless communication and task execution. In large organizations, this connected architecture is inevitably made up of multiple components that cater to the variety of teamwork patterns that different types of work demand, but there is always a need for some sort of unifying layer that ties all the work and gives an overview. of what is happening. Wrike clearly has the ambition to fulfill this role and seems to have built a solid offering with many necessary elements. We should stay in closer contact from now on.

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