“Flow” “Workflow”…Words that summon up ease and elegance in our daily routine of running an interior design business. But more often than not looks like someone walking six various size dogs down a narrow busy sidewalk. We’re human. We get out of sync. Were busy. We have clients who haven’t been trained to not call after 8:00 pm. We’re tired…
Enter Interior Design project management software. Let’s face it, by the time we sit down to the computer to enter various charges at the end of the day, who can blame us for forgetting to add taxes or shipping. Those 10 little dohickies that were listed as only one on the invoice – how did that happen? You included a gorgeous picture of the couch that was just purchased with the close-up photo of the fabric and the dimensions – all the specifications. It looked so professional. But…you forgot your hours… (maybe it was that second glass of wine). Don’t you need those prompts at the end of the day? Even if you have an assistant that takes care of things, there can be so many details lost in translation. It’s embarrassing to have to re-invoice with corrections or send multiple invoices. Clients get confused, put off or just plain scared as to what might be next.
Project management software should put the flow into your work, cut down or cut out multiple copies of paperwork or at the least multiple post-it notes stuck all over. Look for software that can do the following:
It should track deposits on proposals and the resulting deductions for purchases, as well as charging for items beyond the deposit.
Larger items in a project should be able to be broken down into components and tracked then billed as one easy to understand charge to the client.
It should guarantee nothing will slip through the cracks, especially the peripheral expenses like shipping or taxes or the cost of samples.
Providing a set formula for charging with your markups, discounts and fees can save you time and confusion for you and your clients.
The software should supply an accrual method of accounting in order to give an accurate overall financial picture of your business. It will allow you to see the progress of a job and when you invoice, when you were invoiced by a vendor, what work is in process and in general when the money comes in and goes out and above all, what your profits will be.
Having a “quick quote” set up especially for projects with many components like window treatments is a value added bonus. It will have features pre-loaded with charges so you can create a quote in a client’s home during a consultation or a measuring appointment.
Other bonuses include being able to attach pictures of actual pieces of chose furniture and/or color coding to view your projects in progress.
The ability to write up different descriptions or information to clients, vendors and office copy is an added plus so that only the information needed is sent to each.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular software:
Design Manager is a straightforward, detail-oriented program with an easy to understand method of organizing and keeping track of all the details of your business. From the color and fabric to whether a vendor was paid and how much, it’s all there. Design Manager includes a built-in accrual accounting system to keep you on top of your business finances. The software allows for a quick quote, attaching photos to quotes and inventorying with barcodes. The straightforward pricing is either $39.99 a month for their DMCloud or $49.99 per month for the Pro Cloud. https://designmanager.com/
Studio Designer (once known as Studio Webware) has been around for decades and in its present version has enabled a collaborated effort through portals to connect designers, clients, vendors, and showrooms. This creates a greater degree of efficiency allowing clients to quickly approve selections and designers to place orders. Their integrated accounting system is highly detailed and functional. The project management component features budget and project analysis. Enhanced features include an iPhone app, free training lessons and the ability to accept credit card payments. Their pricing is based on 2 variations of the software: basic and professional. They are priced at either $35 per month per user or $45 per month per user and the site details what is included in each package. http://www.studiodesigner.com
MyDoma Studio This software is based on an interior designer’s need to have an industry-specific product to solve her design business dilemmas. In this case, she built one herself. It is unique in that the user can create her own product catalog with a client price which toggles to the designer’s cost. The designer can choose to show the brands or not and markup or discount prices or not. It keeps track of invoicing and provides details that can be accessed by a CPA or bookkeeper. Clients can also view their paid and unpaid invoices. It does not provide accounting software. The software does, however, allow clients to charge their products relieving the designer the responsibility of protecting their credit card numbers. The price of the software is presently $59 per month or $500 per year. http://www.mydomastudio.com
Ivy One of the newer design software companies that seemed to achieve instant approval is Ivy. Instead of their own accounting system, they use Quick Books integration. Built with up to the minute thinking their software’s mobile app is capable of running the business on the go. For a professional look without hours of designing for yourself, they provide customized templates for proposals, invoices etc. Included also is a product clipper to quickly add vendor products to a proposal or a catalog you create. In February of this year, Houzz acquired Ivy Mark which upset several designers after the revelation (in fine print) that Houzz owns all the photos from every designer once submitted to their site. Ivy offers three different plans with variable restrictions ranging in price from $29.00 per month for one user (3 projects per year) to $149 a month for up to seven users. https://www.ivy.co/
Designer Logic This software has been operational for about 10 years and has grown with the industry’s needs. It features a client, contractor and vendor portals to keep appropriate contacts up to date and flow throughout the project. You can use the tools with a computer, Ipad, Mac or PC. Vendors and contractors can list their services with Designer Logic’s Brand Book and become searchable to the software company’s design clients. The dashboard creates estimates, specs, billing details, purchase order timelines, all project details accompanied by a trackable comment thread for staff member participants on the project. It has a Catalogue that is easily updated to contain items used in projects for quick updates in future designs. Clients can log in and see their billing, give approval, make comments and always be in the loop. You can export to Excel or send your financial information to Quickbooks. At present, the company charges 37.95 per user per month with a 30 day free trial. There is no contract and a 20% discount for 3 or more users. http://designerlogic.com/
We have been inundated by a multitude of industries dumping chemical additives into our food, into our building products, into fabrics for clothing and into the furniture and fabrics used on them. At this point in history, we are so saturated with chemicals in our environment can we deny the connection to seeing more and more people with allergies, auto-immune disease, weight problems and fatigue. Can we do anything about it? Can we cut back and protect ourselves?
A relative’s recent experience with the twenty year old home she just moved into taught us a few facts worth sharing. Water started appearing in her home along one side of her home. Her floors are large marble tiles as she lives in Florida where they are common. When water started seeping up in between the tiles when stepped on, she went on high alert and got a plumber in pronto. After probing for a good long while, he found water standing under the house. This eliminated the sprinkler system surrounding the exterior or a completely broken pipe that would have gushed. A slow leaking hot water pipe was discovered behind the drywall in the office. Once capped off, it stopped the leak but further work will have to find the other end of the pipe to finalize the repair and make sure there are no other contributing spots.
Almost all procedures in interior design are based on proportions and measurements – aka spatial relationships. Putting the relationships into perspective requires a plan and these plans are traditionally produced to communicate visually.
The design process may begin with freehand concept sketching to enable the designer to relay onto paper what he envisions and see what needs to be added or modified.
Presentation plans are the initial schematics showing the overall concepts: site placement, the exterior and interior architecture, the mechanical plan the electrical plan, plumbing plan and fire protection plan (which today often includes a sprinkler system).