I feel like Gather is a good balance of user-friendly, but also very functional. I think a lot of times you compromise on user-friendliness when you get more functionality. It feels like everything you want, but nothing that you don't.
When Renee Bush was the Director of Design Operations at Salt Lake City based Studio McGee, she experienced unpleasant results from two custom-built project management solutions.
“The first build was for a system to manage projects, manage all of the items per project and define the pricing, among other functions. The firm worked with an agency for the custom software solution, but it was pretty pricey and a big investment. Then there was a high monthly maintenance fee, plus any time something would break, we’d have to pay $175 an hour to get it fixed.”
This didn’t make sense for the firm, so they decided to hire a software developer in-house to take care of a new build. But after launching the new system, the developer left the firm. And it turns out he used a rare coding language that was difficult to maintain.
“And that's when I started talking to Gather about customization. I had already gone through all the research with our director of IT on how to build the architecture and the workflow. We knew exactly what we wanted, so we were able to better articulate it with them. In the end we got almost all the features we wanted.”
“At this point we decided a third party solution was probably best, so that's when I started going down the route of comparing the different vendors.
“I did the typical Google search and found two right away. But the first one seemed like a beast. It was capable of doing everything I needed but it was also capable of doing three times more than I needed. We really didn’t want something that was complicated, and not particularly user friendly.
“The second program was more user friendly, but I felt it was better for a one-off designer and not for a team of designers like we had at Studio McGee.”
Gather was much closer to what the Studio McGee team needed, but Renee wanted to customize parts of it so it worked better for them.
“And that's when I started talking to Gather about customization. I had already gone through all the research with our director of IT on how to build the architecture, and the workflow. We knew exactly what we wanted, so we were able to better articulate it with them. In the end we got almost all the features we wanted.”
The customization went much faster - and smoother - with Gather. In total it was a 3-month process.
“They know their product so well that we were able to find a way to bridge that gap between what was offered off the shelf and what we wanted. I felt like I had a clear idea of what I needed it to do, but they were able to show me how the product was going to achieve what I wanted.
“I feel like most third party solutions don't really offer customizations unless you're an enterprise level customer paying hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, it was such a good fit with Gather. We knew what we wanted and they were able to customize based on that.”
What’s it like now that the Studio McGee team have Gather in their life?
“This may seem like a small thing, but it’s actually a big thing. And that’s attaching documents really easily. That was something that was so hard in our old system. It was just so frustrating to have a confirmation document, receipt or even just an image you wanted to attach instead of having to save it somewhere else.
“Before we would have to get an IT person to go into the code and run a query to get an Excel spreadsheet of anything. So we often did a lot of screenshots, but that's really frustrating and not very malleable. Being able to do things without involving IT is pretty game changing”
Besides the ability to attach documents easily, what are Renee’s thoughts on Gather overall?
“I feel like Gather is a good balance of user-friendly, but also very functional. I think a lot of times you compromise on user-friendliness when you get more functionality. It feels like everything you want, but nothing that you don't. There's not a lot of frivolous features that aren't useful, and the fact that it's built specifically for the interior design industry makes it the best possible project management tool that you could get.”
All photos copyright: Studio McGee | Photo Credit: Kory Kevin Studio