Staffing the new way: what app to get instead of a person to do what you need?

A design practice is multi-faceted, unlike others. It’s at the cusp of four very different sets of skills that need to be mastered equally: highly trained professional knowledge, a tremendous amount of soft skills, especially people-pleasing skills, the capacity to communicate verbally and visually and last by definitely not least, be a masterful time-manager with superpowers to hold the rains on billable time.

Aside from all this, there are so many tasks that one needs to cover that have nothing to do with design: accounting, marketing, advertising, daily operations, PR, and these are only a few.

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Who should you hire for all this, and how many people? Larger firms can hire specialized staff, while smaller ones cannot. Plus, the longevity of staff in a firm is excellent in achieving maximum productivity. If you’ve changed too many people over the years, you’re familiar with how long it takes to filter through resumes, set up interviews, close a contract, all of this, only to, really, just get started with the training, the aligning of values, the work itself. The road to productivity for any staff is very long, much longer than anyone would think. The less time you spend in training, the fewer tasks one can do, and the less useful for the firm as a whole is. Of course, this is a simplistic way to put it, yet, for many tasks needed, that’s the truth.

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So over the years and with the advent of so many apps, I took a different approach. Why invest so much time and money in people to only see them leave and apply the skills in the next job? Instead, I focused on building the professional happiness of a smaller team that I built and looked to technology to supply the rest.

With all these apps out there, it is hard to see which ones, like the people, are worth investing in. Here is a short list of the ones I use that I’ve carefully considered and used long term:

Dropbox, for all our data
Harvest, for time sheets and billing
Hubdoc and Xero for bookkeeping
Evernote for content
Hootsuite for post scheduling
Snapseed for photo processing

Videoleap and Beetle app for video processing


Image courtesy of Dochia Media

These save over 100k in staff cost yearly and over 500 hours in staff time: my bookkeeper is part-time, we do not need a designated person for tech support at all (we have not used one in over 5 years), we do our marketing and posting in-house, with no marketing-designated staff, and we all pitch into the little office admin needed in this online-office age.

Yes, the apps do not do it all on their own but app cost and all, you can get a lot done!

More to come on how it all works but for now, if you want more productivity for all the non-design tasks, check out these apps!

This article first appeared in My 2 cents on design
how to curate a better lifestyle through design
part ofย  SELF-CARE \\ a DOCHIA FOCUS monthly lifestyle series

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