Why policies and procedures save money.

It’s a common misconception that policies and procedures are only necessary when a studio reaches ‘maturity’, be that in structure or in longevity.

That’s not true.

Well written policies and procedures save money. They are the backbone of a truly sustainable design firm because they allow everyone to work to optimum efficiency.

Here’s 5 reasons why…

  1. Because policies and procedures help you win back time. They document decisions made reducing the time spent constantly reinventing the wheel. Do a business model canvas* or a one page business plan* to set the studio direction and move on. It’s not a set and forget, but it’s policy set in writing you can refer to when needed.
  2. Because they help a studio work more efficiently. Everyone can’t do everything. To work productively studios must divide to conquer. Complete personal appraisal forms* to work out who best suits what role, then document the tasks, complete with agreed behaviours* in a job description*. Both documents form part of a studio’s policies and procedures.
  3. Because misunderstandings can lead to prolonged negotiations and prolonged negotiations take time and that’s money. When everything is written down there are less misunderstandings. Payment terms? Working hours? Free pitch? You’d like to help but it’s not your decision, its company policy*. (Said as you point to ‘something’ in distance.)
  4. Because an analysed, documented pricing structure* forms the backbone of any studio. It’s an important document and the perfect place to hold that document is within a policies and procedures manual.
  5. Because you need to protecting your arse. Without policies and procedures your product liability insurance may be worthless. The success of most claims is linked to employees ‘following policies and procedures’. If you can’t prove you have a system documented, you ain’t getting no money.

A policies and procedures manual is no longer a foolscap folder full of yellowed paper with drilled holes protected by reinforcements.

Policies and procedures* are dynamic documents. They are the backbone of a robust studio. They document and protect important decisions. They are valuable regardless of the size of a studio.


*As luck would have it, the Design Business Council can help with all these tasks 🙂 If you are unsure or need help writing/building/doing, contact Greg or Carol.


Carol Mackay

Want more information like this? Subscribe to get weekly Design Business Review articles, Australia’s only online design management magazine. It’s professional development information written specifically for Australian designers by Australian designers.


2018 is a big year for Carol. Thirty-three years after founding Mackay Branson design, she transitioned from client-focused projects to use her skills with the Design Business Council, and The Design Business School. Her skill has always been using design to translate difficult to understand or complex messages into bite-size chunks of information, more palatable and easier to digest. She did to do that for government organisations, ombudsman schemes and the judicial and finance sectors. Now Carol uses the same skills to translate business concepts into practical tools, resources and skills designers can use everyday.

Carol has just written a new program for the The Design Business School. The Design Studio Management Program is aimed at designers, design graduates and existing design studio managers to help them develop skills to fast track their career path. Contact Carol for more information.

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.