Jaime Bako

The most important thing an interior design firm can do is superb design work, correct? After all, you're in the business of creating stunning interiors and satisfying clients, so it makes sense to focus your time and energy there. But, don't forget you're running a company, too. While it's essential to focus on the creative aspects of your business, interior design firms should also prioritize their accounting. Failing to do so can cause many headaches in the short and long term.


Are you wondering when the right time is to reconsider the programs and systems that underpin your firm's day-to-day operations and accounting practices? Keep reading to learn five signs your design firm is ready to invest in accounting software.


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How many programs are you using to run your interior design firm? It's not uncommon for companies to use multiple software solutions to handle both the accounting and project management sides of the business. However, when you choose "generic" accounting software such as Quickbooks, you fail to consider the specialized needs of a highly specific industry such as interior design. Even the simplest, routine task, such as taking retainers, suddenly becomes much more complicated. Therefore, firms that opt for generic accounting software must also invest in a separate program to manage projects, time tracking, and other tasks since their accounting software cannot handle those jobs.


Why use two separate programs when you can invest in one software solution? DesignDocs customized business software designed specifically for interior design firms consolidates the accounting and workflow functions, meaning you only need one software - rather than two or three - to do everything you need.


An integrated software solution makes moving from proposals to invoices to ledgers much smoother. You can access all your project-specific and overarching business financial information from within one program, meaning less time spent switching between systems, worrying about the integrity and timeliness of the data, and when it was last synced. Better yet, you and your employees only need to learn how to use one program.



Are you having trouble deciphering which projects have the highest margin? Bookkeeping is, at its core, an information science. Accounting provides vital information to interior design firms - information they sometimes don't even realize they need. Up-to-date reporting can help you better track costs of materials and labor. 


DesignDocs' profitability reports provide insight into your projects' budget variances and encourage cost-effective decision-making for your business. These reports compiled over time can showcase trends - giving insight into where you're spending too much, why projects go over budget, and ways to spend money more effectively. 


Furthermore, DesignDocs' financial reports provide insight into how you operate your business. For example, does the way you're charging clients make sense? You might think it does, but your ledger might tell a different story. You can also analyze how you spend time: Are you wasting time on projects with little to no return? Using industry-specific accounting software such as DesignDocs gives you metrics by which you can measure - and adjust - your interior design firm's success.



DesignDocs' software eliminates this burden and allows your firm to use its time as efficiently as possible. For example, let's consider the process of billing and tracking time. It is often one of the most time-consuming parts of administering design projects. Whether a design firm tracks and bills hourly time or bills clients using fixed fees, this process has the potential for vast time-saving improvements.


Often, design firms use various programs or apps such as Excel, Word, notebooks, or other accounting tools to track time and invoices. On the other hand, utilizing an all-in-one project management and accounting software designed to automate this process can save everyone in a design firm considerable amounts of time and stress. 


Industry-specific accounting software such as DesignDocs makes tracking time across multiple staff members easy and painless. It automatically feeds tracked time into billing queues and has tools to build fixed fees and produce variance reports. This gives you access to various reporting options, meaning that, over time, you can learn and improve your firm's profitability in this area.



Sending invoices and receiving payments is the lifeblood of any business, and this critical business-as-usual task can become tedious and manual without the right software. Unpaid invoices can fall through the cracks, and failing to stay on top of this can halt business operations as cash flow becomes uncoordinated. 


By utilizing Stripe, DesignDocs makes collecting payments a breeze. DesignDocs automatically sends the client receipt for an invoice through to the accounting side of the system when the client's payment is confirmed. The automatic consolidation of these client invoices and receipts means no more shuffling through your office to track down the status of payments. The payment registers as paid to the bank account you set the online payments to be posted to, and all associated accounting is automatically taken care of. At any time, you can easily see the status of any project invoice, be it open or paid, making it super simple to stay on top of payments and in a positive cash flow.



If you want to grow your design firm sustainably, you must first understand the numbers. One of the benefits of any software is the availability of data. The longer you use the program, the more information and intel it collects about your business processes.


Stand-alone, generic accounting programs, however, only collect data about your accounting. When you manage your projects and invoicing in separate programs, both platforms will be out of touch with other aspects of your business.


DesignDocs' cloud-based accounting and project management software gives you access to accurate and essential data points so your firm can prioritize growth. Because information about every aspect of your business is in one centralized location, over time, the system can portray ordering patterns or the busiest times of your fiscal year. You can use this information to analyze your fee structure, giving you more insight into how you do business. You can also track invoices, payments, and expenses more quickly and easily, easing cash flow concerns.


If your firm is growing rapidly, chances are, the timing is right for your firm to invest in a system like DesignDocs. On the other hand, if growth is stagnant, this could be a sign that you aren't aware of your financial standing and lack a clear growth trajectory.


Effective accounting has the power to lead your business to success. Learn more about how to manage and promote growth within your business here.



Jaime Bako

As Business Development Manager, Jaime specializes in working with small to medium-sized design firms. By helping to implement DesignDocs into their daily processes, Jaime helps interior design business owners improve their firm's productivity and gain stronger financial insights.
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