Designers, writers, photographers, and other creatives famously hate having to spend time on the administrative, business-y side of their work. Keeping track of finances, managing staff, and filling in time sheets are all maddening distractions from the work that actually matters.
A beautifully designed new tool called Team aims to make tedious orders of business easier. Created by designer Jerome Iveson of the design studio Thrive, it’s geared specifically toward small project-based studios. It streamlines day-to-day operations, combining the functions of separate apps like project manager Basecamp, accounting service Freshbooks, time-tracker Toggl, and the data-cruncher Google Analytics into one intuitive and attractive interface.
Iveson, who’s been a designer for 20 years, knew the pain points of scaling a small studio. “Before founding Thrive I’d built up a small studio. Growing from two to 14 employees, I know where the business pressures kick in,” Iveson tells Co.Design. “During that time, we never found the right tool to manage our business, something that felt like it was really made for us. Nothing really ticked all the feature boxes, was easy enough to use or had the right design aesthetic to appeal.” Once at Thrive, he decided to design the tool he wished he’d had.
While designing Team, Iveson did market research and found that 50% of the 1,000 small studios he surveyed didn’t use any sort of online software to manage their projects. Some used a mixture of online and offline tools–they might track hours worked with Toggl, use Basecamp for project management, and send invoices manually, for example. “We wanted to build all these tools into one thing, to save people time,” Iveson says. Saving time, of course, ultimately means saving money and energy.
Team isn’t just practical, it’s beautiful enough for design-snob users. It borrows the sleek look of Thrive’s first software venture, called Solo, launched in 2011. Solo is a time and project-management app for creative freelancers. Team offers a similar product for collaborative studios. “It’s meant to look like an elegant bit of print work,” Iveson says, with Clarendon type, clean lines, and lots of white space.
Team also aggregates all the data you input to offer real-time analytics, offering studio owners transparency about the financial side of their businesses. It offers metrics on profitability, turnover, and team capacity, analyzing performance on individual projects.
Any small creative studio that works on a project-to-project basis can use Team, but Iveson says it will be of particular interest for typographers, illustrators, architecture companies, and graphic and web designers. “We’ve got some copywriters on there, too,” he says.
The app isn’t free–based on the plan you choose and the size of your studio or startup, prices for the software range from $9 to $15 a month per user or $90 to $150 a year per user. It’s not cheap, but neither is being disorganized or wasting time filling out timesheets manually. “If you use it correctly, you’ll make that money back,” Iveson says, because you’ll hopefully spend less time dealing with the administrative tedium that sucks out creative souls.
Team is now available here.