The Pros and Cons of the four best project management softwares for Interior Designers

4 chairs, orange desk

When it comes to choosing a project management software you want something that’s:

  • Easy to use
  • Does everything you could dream of
  • Looks good and feels good…you are designers afterall
  • Is cloud based so your data is backed up (goes without saying)
  • Made for team collaboration

Most importantly, you want software that makes running your business easier. Software that makes life easier. The technology you use should help business growth, not hinder it.

 

Over the time I’ve spent working with Interior Designers, I’ve seen software options come and go, and experienced first hand the real effect different features can have on running an interior design business.  

 

Drawn from my own experience, and the experience of my clients, I’ve put together a helpful pro-con list on the four project management software options I believe are the top choices out there today.

 

Let’s dive in. 

 

Studio Designer

Studio Designer is an all-in-one software that provides both project management and accounting for its users. Check out the list of specific features here

 

The Pros: 

 

  • The biggest pro is that the accounting and project management is combined under one roof. Everything you need lives in one software, meaning you only have one cost and you don’t have to worry about integrating the two sides. 
  • Reporting on the project management side is robust and offers detailed information you don’t get on many other software options. You can really drill down into your numbers and your projects. 
  • Studio Designer offers budget analysis as well as detailed reporting.
  • It gives clients and vendors access to both the accounting and project management.

 

The Cons:

 

  • Because it’s very detail-heavy, tasks may take longer using this software, and involve more manual entry.
  • This is a good option for Designers who have a dedicated payroll or accounting person working in-house or contracted in. It requires someone with the time to put all the manual detail into the system every day. 
  • If you don’t have someone on your staff who is going to dedicate their time to doing these things, it’s very easy to fall behind, and have inaccurate reporting (rendering this winning feature pointless). 

 

Note: Studio Designer has recently moved to a 2.0 version – make sure to trial the new version.

 

Design Manager

 

Similar to Studio Designer, Design Manager is another all-in-one software with combined project management and accounting. Check out the list of specific features here

 

The Pros:

 

  • Much the same as Studio Designer – an all-in-one means one price for both the accounting and the project management, removing the hassle of integrating two softwares. 
  • It is a strong competitor in its reporting feature with a lot of detail available.
  • In Design Manager you can reconcile in the platform.

 

The Cons:

 

  • Again, in the same vein as Studio Designer, the designers this works best for have someone on their team dedicated to putting the numbers in daily. 
  • If you don’t have a Bookkeeper yet, you may find that when you do have one it takes longer for them to get used to the software and putting the numbers in manually, and they may bill higher as a result.
  • Some Designers I’ve worked with have commented on Design Manager looking a little outdated (and I know how much you love beautiful design!).

 

Key takeaway: Wait until you have someone internal to work in this program all the time. 

 

Ivy

 

Ivy is the first of the software options I’m going to cover that doesn’t include accounting and project management in one place. 

 

The Pros:

 

  • It does integrate with QuickBooks Online. 
  • The people I know who use it and enjoy it love the way it looks. It’s new, fresh and looks snazzy.

 

The Cons:

 

  • The integration can be tricky sometimes. Occasionally it will shut off or stop working properly, and in these instances we need to spend extra time making sure data is accurate. 
  • The integration only goes one way. 
  • The accounting and project management isn’t all in one software, meaning you’ll have double the cost. You may get a cheaper rate on wholesale pricing with your accountant, (we do this) – but you’ll still have to pay for it. 
  • The report is produced as a summary spreadsheet, rather than a downloadable PDF, which can put some people off. 

 

Mydoma Studio

 

Like Ivy, Mydoma Studio is a project management software only. Check out the specific features here

 

The Pros:

 

  • It integrates with QuickBooks Online. 
  • The appearance is nice, it’s designed well. 
  • Mydoma allows anyone involved in the project (clients, vendors and contractors) to have their own login. Everyone can input and everyone can see everything. 
  • When it comes to project management, it has all the features Ivy and the other softwares have – reporting, product sourcing, Zapier integrations etc. 

 

The Cons:

 

  • Much like Ivy, although Mydoma integrates with QBO, you will be paying for two platforms and the integration is still limited – it doesn’t always work properly so it needs more attention. 

 

Note: Mydoma has emailed to say they’re bringing out a new upgrade, and training is starting this this week (time of writing: 02.25.2020). We’re excited to check out the new features, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated!


My universal advice for whatever platform you choose 

 

I chose these four platforms for review because, at the time of writing, I believe them to be the best options out there for you. There are a number of other project management solutions, but they either don’t integrate with an accounting function or they just don’t have the market share to talk about (yet!). 

 

Whatever software you choose for your Interior Design business, I always recommend the following:

 

Do a free trial!

 

When a free trial is available to you, it’s a no-brainer to take it up. In fact, I’d advise you to do a free trial of all four of the software options I’ve listed. Give them all a practical run through to see which one is the right match for you and your business.

 

Don’t let your accountant be the only reason you decide against one 

 

If your accountant doesn’t specialize in working with Interior Designers, or the kind of software Interior Designers use, they’re likely to persuade you to choose QuickBooks every time, regardless of the project management side. After your trial period, if you like an integrated version, don’t be discouraged to use it. You can and will find an accountant that can support your choice. 

 

Don’t just settle because the transition is scary

 

If the software you’re using right now is making your life harder not easier, do your research for the sake of your business. Don’t just stick with what you’ve got because you’re scared of the education time a new software demands. Choose the one for you and plan out your transition. Your business will thank you. YOU will thank you. And if you’re not sure how to go about it, you can always ask us for help. 

 

Get your whole team on board 

 

Choosing a smarter software will make your life easier, but only if your team are invested in learning it. Everyone that will contribute needs to know how it works, including outside vendors like your bookkeeper or CPA. 

 

Are you already a user of one of these platforms? Sharing your personal experience could help other Interior Designers make a better decision for their business. Let us (and others) know how it’s going in the comments below.

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