Ask Vicente: Accounting Software

From: Lori

Hi Vicente, I was hoping to get some experienced design advice. I have a small company that does residential design. I just started about 18 months ago and I’ve been doing what I love and what I’m meant to do. Accounting, however, is not one of my strongest assets. Therefore, I researched endlessly to find the best software for my business. And, after spending way too many hours working on diligent bookkeeping, the software is not working for me. Of course, I went with design business driven software… and my question is this: What software do you use? What software do most interior designers use? I will be hiring a bookkeeper and I am willing to abort the old system. (So much for research) But, I can’t afford another error like this one.

Vicente Responds:

We use Design Manager in my office, which is an old program that we’re still using. For bookkeeping we have a second program called PeachTree. Maureen, who’s responsible for all billing and finances says that they work really well for her. We keep the general ledger seperate from the internal business, hence the two programs. Look into Design Manager as it was created for this industry. In my experience, I have found somebody to manage the things that I’m not good at on my behalf instead of wasting time and making mistakes.

Also, while I don’t know their names, I know that here in New York there are companies that take care of all your billing and purchase orders. So it’s not done in-house, but out of house. This may be a good solution for you? At a lot of other companies, the bookkeeper does all the invoicing. If you’re not good at it, whatever you do, stop! Stick with your strengths and find someone else to manage those things you are not good at.


  • I have used Design Manager and am now using Studio IT. Many desginers use this program. I do not have the General Ledger module for Studio IT however. I am told by my accountant that Quick Books is the way to go. Quick Books is what most bookkeepers seem to use and is a lot cheaper than the Studio IT module. I have been putting off getting this aspect of my busniess completely figured out. I will look into Peach Tree! Thanks for the tip Vicente!

    April 16, 2010
  • Rita Johnson

    I have used Quickbooks for years. Early on I customized a few things to be able to hold deposits and apply them, etc. The newer versions have specialized and you can buy a version for businesses that special order merchandise.

    It tracks orders/payments/billing, so that you don’t forget to bill all those little things that can become big expenses if not invoiced to the client.

    The program is so common now that it is easy to find employees that already know how to use it. Usually they just have to learn the parts that are special to the design business. At one time they had seminars around the country where you could go ask questions specific to your business. I don’t know if they still do that.

    I get irritated when they make me upgrade every three years or so, in order to be able to use the free .pdf email function, but I guess they have to make a living too. 🙂

    April 16, 2010
  • I also started with Design Manager however moved to Studio IT about 5 years ago…although I have yet to meet an accountant who prefers either to Quickbooks or Peachtree, so I am not sure what to make of that, lol. Thanks Vicente for sharing your tips and sources, your work and transparency are constant sources of inspiration and encouragement.

    All the best,

    April 17, 2010
  • […] Ask Vicente: Accounting Software | Vicente Wolf Blog […]

    April 17, 2010
  • Our office uses Studio IT as well. We really like it. Our bookkeeper was actually the one that trained us how to use all of the bells and whistles. For those not using at least Quickbooks or Studio or Design Manager- you really should. There are so many things that can slip in the cracks. This is most helpful to follow up on things as well. You can pull reports and tell how much money you have or don’t have!

    April 17, 2010
  • This is the part of the business that I really dislike. Thank you for always posting such important tips and business ideas.

    April 17, 2010
  • I use Studio IT and love it. They have just come out with a web version of it where bookkeepers can do the work remotely. Studio IT is an industry specific tool that does single entry and bookkeeping. I love it. The learning curve is a bit steep but it’s worth it. My accountant is fine with it. There’s a Boston Based guy, Mark Mollinsky whom I know and respect that will do all your paperwork. He’s Quick book based.

    I agree with Vicinete though you need to get out of the bookkeeping and focus on what you do best.

    April 17, 2010
  • My business mgr uses Quick books. I know she has customized it so that she can keep track of things by project. Like Vicente says, stick with your core competency…mine in design, not bookkeeping. In the early years of my practice, I was spending a majority of my time doing what I was not proficient to the extent that what I was good at was suffering. Hiring a business mgr was the smartest investment I’ve ever made.

    April 19, 2010
  • Roland

    I have worked for various Interior Designers for more than twenty years. I have used several different softwares, however Studio IT is my software of choice. In fact I will only work for designers that use Studio IT. Studio IT was developed by designers for designers and the reporting features are incredible. Tracking items is a breaze and reduces duplication of data entry. Unlike Quickbooks, Studio IT can create Proposals of which can be edited at any time and then turned into Invoices when an item is ready to be installed. Studio IT (unlike Quickbooks) records the cost of the sale and the Income in the same accounting period in which it was sold. This is proper accounting. The back bone of your business is accurate accountability. Tax accountants have no knowlege of how an Interior design office operates. Whatever financial reports that are turned over to your accountant at year end are not audited for accuracy. Whatever those numbers are (right or wrong) is what they use to prepare your tax returns. In a nutshell, if you are not using Studio IT then I wouldn’t be confident in the accuracy of your financials.

    August 25, 2010

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