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Call us (800) 604-2504 | Version 6.0


New Version of DesignSmart!

More features. More speed. Web based.

We are very excited to be releasing a new version of DesignSmart in the next few weeks. newVersion 6.0 will include the following improvements:

  • Generating specifications is 80% faster and can be done in the background so your computer is not tied up
  • Access DesignSmart via desktop software or a web browser
  • The new products feature makes it easy to use the same product in various projets. No more copying items from one project to another.
  • Set up up to four ship to addresses per project
  • Send out "Request for Pricing" emails to multiple vendors with the click of a button
  • Easily create Gantt charts and provide your clients with a weblink for viewing them
  • Item pricing has been simplified especially for firms that include component pricing with the primary item

BUY NOW. SAVE NOW. Purchase Version 6.0 before it is officially released and pay only Version 5.0 pricing!

Categories: Company Updates


QuickBooks Pro Versus QuickBooks Online

Which one is better for designers?

Our optional QuickBooks Connector module passes data seamlessly back and forth between DesignSmart and QuickBooks Pro and QuickBooks Enterprise. Most design firms will find that QuickBooks Pro has all of the functionality they need, but larger firms will migrate to the more flexible QuickBooks Enterprise. Both Pro and Enterprise operate on computers running the Windows operating system, have been around for many years, and enjoy a well deserved reputation for being solid and feature rich.

Each year we research if the online version of QuickBooks, imaginatively named QuickBooks Online (QBO), has matured to the point that we should modify our QuickBooks Connector module to work with it. If you haven't seen QBO, you might be surprised how it can almost make accounting software look cool and fun to use. It has an attractive and simplified user interface, some snazzy little dashboard widgets, and it can be accessed on mobile devices. If you go to the QuickBooks website, you get the impression that QBO is the best thing since sliced bread since the website promotes it almost to the exclusion of QuickBooks Pro. In fact you have to be fairly determined and dig around a bit to even get to the webpages about QuickBook Pro.

So is QBO better than QuickBooks Pro? Unfortunately, we have concluded yet again that while QBO continues to improve, it still is not as suitable for most interior designer firms as QuickBooks Pro. And this conclusion is shared by most, though not all, design firms that we have spoken with.

The primary advantage of QBO is that it is accessible from anywhere. Well here is a little surprise: so is QuickBooks Pro if you put it in the cloud like we do and many of our clients do. For more information about hosting QuickBooks Pro in the cloud click here.

So you might be wondering why the parent company, Intuit, that develops and markets QuickBooks is promoting QBO so aggressively. One word: profits. Most companies that purchase QuickBooks Pro will use that copy for two or three years since there is rarely any reason to upgrade. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that even though the monthly fee for QBO seems "cheap", after two or three years those "cheap" monthly payments add up to be several times more expensive than a license of QuickBooks Pro that you don't upgrade every year.

We will look at QBO again next year, but for now we consider QuickBooks Pro to be the better option for most design firms.



Speery Chalet


This post is not about project management or design. Rather, it is to share with you a wonderful park in hopes that you might consider going there yourself.

The park is called Glacier National Park and it is located in Montana. I'd heard of the park for years, but was overwhelmed by the park's indescribable natural beauty when I visited it last month. We hiked the Gunsight Pass trial to Speery Chalet.

Speery is one of those special places in the world that is in such high demand that you have to take your chances with a lottery every January to determine if you can get in. Our lottery number was 856. We started trying to book when the website went live at 10:00 AM, but it was so swamped that we had to keep trying till our request for lodging finally got through at 10:30 AM. By that time 855 other people had had better luck and registered before us. With such a high number, we didn't think we would have a chance to being assigned a night, but perhaps because we gave a wide date range that we could be there, we were assigned two nights!


Categories: Best Practices


Slanted Foreheads

ernie2There is an old joke that goes something like this: "Do you know why computer programmers have slumped shoulders and slanted foreheads? If you ask them a question the shrug their shoulders and say, 'I don't know'. And when you tell them the answer they slap their foreheads".

My forehead became more inclined last week when I finally got around to replacing the hard drive in my middle aged laptop with a Solid State Drive (SSD). For years I had read that replacing the mechanical type of drive that comes with most computers with a SSD drive makes the computer run much faster. (Solid state drives have no moving parts and are pure, fast, electronic memory.) But for one reason or another I put off upgrading. Then last week when I could no longer ignore that it was taking my Windows 10 computer forever to boot, a decision was required: either take up knitting or get a new drive. So I...


Categories: Best Practices


What Does QuickBooks Offer Interior Design Firms?

QB IntuitLogo Horiz RGB

The QuickBooks family of accounting software is used by over 90% of small businesses in America. This brings up three questions: 

  1. Why is QuickBooks so popular?
  2. Is it a good option for your interior design firm?
  3. How do QuickBooks and DesignSmart work together?

Why is QuickBooks used by 90% of all small businesses?

  • Because of its dominance, most accountants and bookkeepers know it and can support it
  • It is segmented for different size businesses:
    • QuickBooks Online for startup and very small businesses
    • QuickBooks Pro for firms with basic accounting needs
    • QuickBooks Enterprise for large firms with inventories or advanced accounting needs
  • It can be customized to work the way a design firm needs it to work and has excellent reporting capabilities
  • It is the most cost effective accounting software available

Is QuickBooks a good option for an interior design firm?


Doing what you do best

Maximizing designer's productivity

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One of the first questions we ask prospective clients is who in their firm is responsible for creating purchase orders. The answer usually boils down to either the designers or the back office staff like a bookkeeper. Or in the case of larger firms, the purchasing department.

In general, we find that the more efficient firms strive to limit the amount of paperwork designers have to handle so they can maximize the time deisgners have for design. For this reason, in DesignSmart there is a system for designers to simply "flag" the items that are ready to ordered. Then the back office staff can see all the items that need to be ordered and push the corresponding purchase orders into QuickBooks.

It is a simple process that ensures that items are not ordered until the designer is certain that the details are correct and, in the case of commercial projects,  all required approvals have been satisfied.

The main benefit is that this process frees up the designer's time for more productive work.

(End of article)

Categories: Best Practices


Getting to Yes

34484156 sBecause no two design firms are alike, we customize DesignSmart for each client. Recently a new client asked us to develop an interesting feature.

To ensure control over purchasing, this firm requires that a Purchasing Manager, a Project Manager and a Senior Manager approve every purchase order before it is released to the vendor. If a manager was away from the office and could not view the printed copy of the PO, the approval process would bog down. And there was the issue of the occasional purchase order being denied and having to inform the design team of what needed to be changed in order for the PO to be approved.

The solution? Allow managers to view the POs awaiting their approval in DesignSmart for iPad so they can view and approve them from anywhere. And the issue with letting designers know why a PO is denied? Managers simply enter a note on the iPad, and the design team is automatically sent an email with the manager’s note.

Does your firm have a work flow process that might be made more efficient by DesignSmart? Call us today so we can discuss possible solutions with you.

(End of article)

Categories: Best Practices


New Weekly Timesheet

No matter how you do it, keeping track of your time is not easy. In hopes of making the process a bit easier, we are pleased to announce a new weekly timesheet entry screen. Here you can enter all of your time for a week and/or review your time entries for a given week. (End of article)

Screenshot 062616 094036 AM



Categories: Best Practices


SmartInventory Update

New and improved

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Few design firms have their own warehouses or need to track inventory, but those that do can now take advantage of new features in our SmartInventory module. Below is a partial list of the new improvements:

  1. Works with, or independently of, QuickBooks Advanced Inventory Module
  2. Allows users to design their own bar code labels
  3. Tracks inventory movements within warehouses
  4. Incorporates iPads, iPod Touch and iPhones for easy to view inventory movements
  5. Allows delivery staff to capture the signature of the person receiving the delivery and automatically stores and emails the signature in real time. 
  6. Ability to track inventory by project and/or by the floor of a project

(End of article)

Categories: Inventory


Customize DesignSmart To Work The Way You Need It To Work

Make it yours

woman at desk SmallPeople not in the interior design industry could reasonably assume that all design firms essentially provide a similar service. Namely, they pick out fabrics and furnishings for a home or building so the interior is pleasing to the owner. And at a certain level they would be correct. Where they would not be correct is thinking that at the operational level all design firms have the same work flows.

For just one simple example consider how the "Client Deposit" is might be calculated:

  • Some firms have a fixed 50% or fixed 100%. Or the percent might fluctuate depending on the type of item. So a fabric might be 100%, but a sofa might be 50%. Or the client deposit might be determined by the vendor's deposit when the order is placed.
  • Is sales tax to be included in the Client Deposit?
  • Is freight to be included in the Client Deposit?

There are an infinite number of variations in how a design firm runs their business. The good news is that DesignSmart has been developed so it can be customized to work the way you need it to work.

Please click the "Continue Reading" button below.


Categories: Best Practices


New DesignSmart server option

Fast, easy and affordable - Works with Windows PCs and Macs


There are many benefits to "cloud" technology and approximatley 50% of our clients run DesignSmart from one of our cloud servers.  However, there are two important advantages to hosting DesignSmart data in your office rather than in the cloud:

  1. It will be faster. Consequently you will enjoy working with the system more. To understand the speed difference, consider that with a cloud server data and images have to travel 1,000's miles as opposed to 100 feet. Even if you have a super fast internet connection, hosting the data in your own office is going to be faster and day-in and day-out you will greatly appreciate the faster responsiveness.
  2. It will be less expensive in the long run. 

If your firm does not already have what is known as a server, then we recommmend the Apple Mac Mini (starting at $499.00) to host your DesignSmart data. It gets the name mini from the fact it is only 9" x 9" x 2". Even if you only use Windows PCs in your office, your PCs will connect and work seamlessly with the mini. 

Getting setup couldn't be any easier. We will purchase the mini online, install all of the necessary software and configure it to work with your network. When we send it to you all you have to do is plug in the power cord and a network cable. No need to plug in a monitor,  a keyboard, nor a mouse. When we need to make tweaks to your program, we'll simply connect to the mini remotely from our offices.

(Click Continue Reading for FAQs)


Categories: Best Practices


Easy way to safeguard your email

For those who use web based email programs


In January we posted an article about the importance of using a "password manager" software program to store all of your passwords. You can read the article here

In the article the growing threat of BAD people hacking your online email account and literally holding it for ransom was mentioned. This happened to one of our employee's parents. 

If someone hacked your email account and required $500 or $5,000 ransom to release it back to you, would you pay? Hopefully you won't be faced with that decision, and if you follow our recommendation below, then you won't ever have to decide. You could simply tell the BAD person, "Thank you, but no thank you. I have a copy of my email. Have a nice day!"

The recommendation? (click Continue Reading)

Categories: Best Practices


Website for finding a local bookkeeper!

Complete with certifications and references!

Hiring a bookkeeper is not easy, but if you use QuickBooks then the task gets much easier. Why? More than 95% of small businesses use QuickBooks so more bookkeepers know QuickBooks than any other accouting system.

QuickBooks even has a website to you help find bookkeepers (or "Pro Advisors" as QuickBooks calls them) in your local area. 


Keepin in mind that with our QuickBooks Connect module all of the clients, vendors, projects, deposits, purchase orders and invoices that you create in DesignSmart get pushed into QuickBooks with the click of a button. This eliminates double entry and allows your bookkeeper to spend her or his time, and your money, more efficiently.

To learn more about QuickBooks Connect and QuickBooks, please contact us.  [End of article]






Categories: Best Practices


Entering Dimensions Just Got Easier!

dimenRecently a designer suggested to us a better way to enter dimensions. We thought it was a such a good idea that we put it in DesignSmart 5.0

Her  idea was that a rug needs certain dimensional prompts (width and lenght) whereas a lamp needs others (height, shade diameter, base diameter). So why not let design firms set up the dimensional prompts for various items? And while we are at it, go ahead and add an icon to make it a more visual process.

To see a 1 minute video of how it works, please visit our videos section.

Categories: Best Practices


Product Release: DesignSmart 5.0

Our best release ever!

Today we are releasing DesignSmart 5.0. Serious project management software for serious designers.

What is new?

  • New user interface - A completely new fresh and modern look
  • User definable item templates - now you determine what data fields you want to enter
  • View and edit components and primary items on the same layout
  • Three new items list views: Image List View, Status List View, Split View
  • Audit logs - a log of who changed what when
  • Remote App (optional) - requires no software installation and provides faster access to your data no mater where you are
  • Four new graphic layouts for images
  • Simplified editing of purchase orders and invoices
  • Improved interaction with our QuickBooks Connector module

Contact us today see an overview of this new version!

Categories: Design, Company Updates, Technology

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