Taking the next step with your design business does not just mean designing different projects, or taking on more clients, it also often means growing and expanding your team. At the start, you were likely only responsible for your work and your work alone. Now, you may employ a staff of two or more that look to you not just for a salary, but for leadership, guidance, and a whole lot more.

While assembling a talented team of designers and creatives is just the beginning, ensuring seamless coordination and collaboration within your firm is equally important. Fortunately, with the help of a project management and accounting system like Studio Designer, you can significantly enhance the productivity and efficiency of your interior design team.

Online team meeting

Everything in one place

Managing an interior design team requires efficient coordination, communication, and organization. Studio Designer is a powerful tool that streamlines project management, facilitates collaboration, and simplifies financial tracking. By leveraging the capabilities of Studio Designer, you can enhance your team’s productivity, streamline workflows, and ultimately deliver outstanding results to your clients. Furthermore, this centralized approach eliminates the need for endless email chains, spreadsheets, and scattered documents, ensuring everyone is on the same page, all while improving overall efficiency.

Activity at the Item level

In a previous blog post, we discussed how Items help assess your firm’s profitability. Items can also serve as the driver for the Activity feature in Studio Designer. With the application, Activities are used for administrative tasks, reminders, or To-Do lists for you and your team. They can be tied directly to an Item so you can keep track of the steps involved in moving a project along. An Activity can also be created simply as a “to-do” that is not tied to a specific Item but rather something you want to keep on top of as it relates to the project.

To understand how Activities work, let’s say you have an Item for a vintage chair you are having stained a new finish. The vendor told you the new finish for the chair will be applied next Tuesday. To keep track of this, you can add an Activity to the Item, with details and the date the new finish will be completed. You can then take it one step further and add an Activity to follow up with the vendor two days later and then assign an Activity for the junior designer involved with the project to add the new image of the finished chair to the client portal. Until the Activity is marked complete you will stay abreast of this activity each day you login into Studio Designer.

This level of project management not only helps your team stay on track, but since an Activity can be tied to an Item, the Item History feature provides instant access into the history of an Item no matter the stage a project is in. This level of insight is critical when team members and/or clients want the status of an Item or can signal to lead designers managing a project where roadblocks are derailing progress so that they can jump in and help their team continue to make progress. It also gives a clear overview of each staff member’s workload, ensuring optimal resource utilization, which can help minimize the risk of overloading certain team members and declining overall productivity.

Improve workflow for teams both near and far

Sometimes knowing which tasks to tackle first can be complicated; it’s even more complex with an inefficient workflow, team members working from different locations, and using the wrong set of tools. Without a project management system, it can be challenging to keep track of assignments, allocate resources effectively, and ensure timely completion of tasks.

In the scenario above, we mention how you can assign and track Activities of other team members to keep projects moving. This level of task management is essential for design principals and lead designers who manage junior team members and must ensure everyone knows what their responsibilities and deadlines are. It also helps foster an environment of transparency and accountability within the team, as progress can be easily tracked. The Activity feature also allows for real-time updates, enabling seamless communication and swift adjustments when changes occur. This streamlines your workflow and ensures everyone is on the same page regarding project milestones, design concepts, and specific client requirements.

Effective time billing and tracking for a more profitable bottom line

The primary function of any time tracking tool is to record the overall hours employees spend on specific projects or tasks assigned to them, but they can also help you get paid. Studio Designer’s time billing tools allow you to track time by item or activity or use a running timer to track time as you work. The Time Rates feature lets you set different rates by level and stage of the project, offering insights on when and where to make trade-offs in your teams’ workflows to ensure project profitability is met. This level of information also allows you to effectively allocate resources to better utilize your team’s time, resulting in delivering clients’ projects on time and within budget.

If you’re a firm that bills clients for the time spent on their projects, you will need meticulous records about how many hours you and your team logged throughout the project. Since an Activity can be tied to an Item, there is less leg work and steps for your team to clock in their time. This means less potential revenue will be lost due to errors made by team members trying to remember how much time was spent on item deliverables.  You can also send an invoice from an item, making payment seamless for you and the client. And Studio Designer’s integrated client payments solution Studio Pay, you receive payments fast and securely. With the ability to tie Activities to an Item all in one place, you can rest assured knowing that your team is being paid for their time, and you gain a better understanding of how to best manage productivity for your team’s success.

Even if you’re not directly billing a client for time and using a flat fee pricing model, tracking your team’s time on a project is still good business practice. This way, you can measure the variance between hours worked and accounted for when looking at your firm’s profitability. It can also help improve your firm’s overall efficiency as it allows managers and employees alike to gain insights into how much time is spent on specific tasks and how they can be improved. This helps identify any inefficiencies or areas of improvement that may arise, allowing teams to work together to optimize the workflow and production process.

Detailed and dynamic reporting

When it comes to running a business, time is money. Attributing working hours to a project and billing accordingly is crucial for your design firm’s long-term success and sustainability. With Studio Designer’s reporting capabilities, you can gain insight into what project team members have been working on and how their time affects your bottom line.

Our Timesheet Reporting lets you see how well your firm utilizes time from project to project, keep clear who’s working on which activity, what’s been already done, and what’s left to do. You can also run a customized timesheet report to see how much time was spent on a project that required custom furniture work and finishings to see how profitable your team’s time was spent so you can better evaluate your approach in taking on projects that require customized items and how to improve the process. This level of reporting can also help in observing performance measurement, which can indicate how well the team is progressing on project deliverables, and if there are any imminent risks, like jeopardizing deadlines if you were to pull a team member from a project to start on another project. In utilizing Studio Designer’s suite of reports, you can make informed decisions that enable you to steer your interior design firm to its most productive and profitable years yet.

Managing your interior design team requires efficient coordination, communication, and organization. By leveraging the capabilities of Studio Designer, you can enhance your team’s productivity, streamline workflows, and ultimately deliver outstanding results to your client.

Want to learn more about Studio Designer?

Studio Designer is the leading digital platform for interior designers managing and growing their design businesses, featuring fully integrated project management, time billing, product sourcing, and accounting solutions.

Want to learn how Studio Designer can work for your design firm? Schedule a call with our team: https://www.studiodesigner.com/get-a-demo/

We can’t wait to connect.