Improving the processes and workflows in your interior design practice is totally necessary to do: even if you don’t consider yourself a business-savvy individual or a project manager type. To introduce you to this topic, and help you streamline your day-to-day operations without losing your sanity, we’ve put together a cheat sheet for all things design processes, and some recommendations to make your life easier.
Definition: workflows and processes
What is a process?
A process is a series of repeated actions that contribute to a final, large business objective. In an interior design practice, a process might be the “design process” that a designer undertakes to carry out a project.
What is a workflow?
Workflows are smaller sets of repeated tasks that accomplish smaller objectives as part of a larger process. A workflow in the interior design context could be the concept of sourcing or specifying.
How can a process or a workflow be “bad”?
One thing is clear: if your processes are enabling you to get your work done, they are de facto OK. You should be proud you’re getting complicated, beautiful work done! But that doesn’t mean that processes and workflows can’t be improved, so you can spend more time doing the things you love instead of admin.
We would consider a process or workflow improvable if you’re:
- Using multiple tools to do one thing.
- Spending hours of non billable time on admin.
- Feeling stressed out about the processes.
- Requiring synchronous communication to get anything done.
- Saving information on your desktop.
- Entering large amounts of information manually.
- Repeating tasks that could be automated (e.g. transcribing information from place A to place B)
What are the benefits of improving workflows in interior design?
Generally, administrative tasks are totally unpaid for by clients, and that represents a weight on your worksheets at the end of every month. Decreasing the time spent on admin tasks will help you reduce unnecessary costs and up billable hours.
Freeing up time for innovation
With less time spent doing uninspiring tasks, your team can continue to trial new solutions, and acquire new inspiration of how to do things bigger and better. Spending less time doing the boring bits is totally necessary to foster an atmosphere where ideas grow.
Improving deadline completion
Interior design practices continuously struggle with completing projects to deadline specifications, and some of it can be explained by the inordinate amounts of admin and the delays caused by miscommunication.
Setting up your quality
Having extra time in your hands and a better understanding of how your processes work will help you make better decisions about your business, and in consequence,
How do you improve business processes?
01. Audit your current processes
The first step in improving your processes and workflows is by writing them down and understanding what tasks are being carried out to complete general goals like “filing taxes”, “designing a home” or “marketing the studio”. In the case of marketing for example, the processes could be further broken down into pillars such as social media, SEO, word of mouth and PR, and then into individual workflows, e.g. hiring photographers, launching ads, working with agencies etc.
02. Break down the steps into the smallest units possible
Now that you have an idea of what is being done in broad strokes, go even deeper into the tasks and exactly what is being done. From the smaller things, e.g. introduce product information on Excel manually, to the bigger ones, e.g. spend x days on site aiding with installation, put them in!
03. Account for the outcomes
Every task has an outcome – this can be the way workers feel, the money spent or saved, the contract signed or the project approved etc. Account for every little thing that your tasks serve for, both positive and negative. This will help you understand where the rougher, “to-be-improved” processes and workflows lie.
04. Request feedback from your co-workers
Everyone experiences processes differently, so ask your co-workers to build on your first schema and to introduce their own outcomes and tasks. This will help you have a 360 vision of what is going on in the company.
05. Identify opportunities for improvement
Your map has been crafted, and you’re no longer flying blind! Every bit of time has been accounted for, and every outcome too. Now, search for those negative outcomes, and see in which parts of the process they concentrate. Those are the workflows to streamline and fix.
06. Incorporate new, streamlined processes
There are so many ways to streamline processes, but generally it is your choice of software that will make the biggest difference. Softwares should help you automate some parts of the interior design process. This can be scheduling, sourcing, communicating with clients, gathering product information and inspiration… Oh, and on that note…
As a response to clunky workflows and long, tedious processes, we thought: this can be done better. And we were right. Given that you’re reading this article, we know you’re struggling with processes and how to improve them, so we want to show you how to step up your game. Join Portaire, and spend time doing what you love.
Source thousands of products in one place
In our trade portal you have access to 3000+ products from 80+ high-end, vetted suppliers. Add the products directly to your schedules and never struggle to find a product you love again.
Clip product information in a few clicks
With our Chrome extension, you don’t have to worry about manually writing down all the product specifications onto a spreadsheet. Instead, click the lightning button and watch all the information be transported directly to your schedules and inspiration folders.
Create and share schedules effortlessly
Now that you have all the product information at your fingertips, you can easily create schedules, where clients can approve or reject suggestions and issue comments. This replaces the infamous Excel spreadsheets, and the manual and repeated information inputs.
When you’re ready, click on “Share” and your client can see exactly what you want them to see, live. No more “Version_Final_v21”, simply share a link and all the latest information will be there to collaborate over.
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