Consultant Tools – Top Processes And Tools To Keep You On Track!
Consultant tools are crucially important to stay on top of your work. When looking for the best tools available, whether you’re running a consultancy with other team members or if you’re a solo consultant, keeping organized and in close contact with your clients is a must. In the world of consulting, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed with tasks, requests, and communication threads.
Thankfully, there are many easy to use consultant tools available.
The challenge with modern tools is that as a consultant, you’re not only juggling your clients and projects, but you’re also responsible for running and maintaining your own business too. This means that you’ll be juggling a variety of tasks, including managing projects, keeping track of proposals, communicating with your current clients, invoicing, and of course, finding new clients too.
With so many things to handle, this means that you’ll need to have a solid handle on the best tools, methods, and processes available. Here, it’s all about keeping organized and on track. Otherwise, without processes for handling your consulting clients, and without modern, fast consulting tools, things can quickly get overwhelming.
Most often, this means having a variety of tools in your consultant’s toolkit to help you handle all the tasks in your business. So here, we’ll take a look at some top methods and processes to handle your client work, and what you’ll need when it comes to consulting software tools to keep you on top of your work.
Let’s start with some consulting processes…
Consultant Tools Go-To: Using Benchmarking And SWOT To Get A Snapshot Of Your Clients
First up, let’s take a look at benchmarking and SWOT. We’ll start with benchmarking.
As a consultant, benchmarking is one of the first things you’ll be doing for your clients. Now if you’re not sure, benchmarking is a process where you’ll be comparing and contrasting your clients against their overall industry — or against specific competitors.
This is an important first step in your consulting process because it will help you get a snapshot of your client and how they’re performing overall in comparison to other vendors in the marketplace. Further, benchmarking allows you to identify both strong and weak areas in your client’s business.
With benchmarking, there are no hard and fast rules here, but most often you’ll be comparing metrics like overhead costs, production costs, gross revenue, and possibly other factors like employee turnover, customer service response time, and more.
Again, this is an important step early on to help you and your client get a sense of how they measure up in their market. With benchmarking, you’re zeroing in on specific business metrics like the ones just mentioned. But what about analyzing a department or entire business as a whole?
That’s where SWOT comes in.
SWOT is short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats; and most often the process looks like this: Early on in your relationship with a client, sit down with them and ask them to provide you with an honest take on their business.
Have them tell you directly what they think their weaknesses and strengths are. And of course, ask them to provide you with their sense of what opportunities exist for their business, as well as potential threats.
Performing a SWOT analysis gets your clients thinking about their business in a critical and honest way. And it gives you a strong sense of what your client thinks of their business overall.
As you can see, SWOT is focused on the business itself (or a business’s specific internal department) whereas benchmarking is contrasting the business against other competitors or with the market overall.
With benchmarking and SWOT in hand, let’s now turn to your next set of consultant tools, utilizing a balanced scorecard…
Track Your Clients Over Time With Balanced Scorecards
If your previous consultant tools, benchmarking & SWOT, are snapshots in time, then a balanced scorecard is a method to help measure your client’s business performance over time. Using a balanced scorecard, you can track a variety of business metrics and monitor performance in real time.
Now, your individual client balance scorecards can contain any metrics that you deem suitable to track. These metrics may include gross revenues, customer satisfaction, staff engagement, and market share. But of course, you can track any business metrics as needed to meet each of your individual client requirements.
As you track these and other metrics over time for your clients, you can set, for example, monthly or quarterly snapshot-points to track progress. This approach allows you to track and measure strategic growth and progress, which is particularly important as you adjust your client’s strategies and direction.
Further still, the data you gather from your balanced scorecards gives you a record of the results you’ve been able to produce for your clients, which you can then use in your marketing efforts when attracting new clients.
With these consultant procedures covered, let’s now have a look at software-based consultant tools…
Online Consulting Software Tools
Next up, let’s take a look at digital consulting tools. Here, it’s important to note that going with the biggest or most popular tools may not be necessary. And that’s because many of these tools are simply too bulky and complex. In other words, many consultant software tools contain too many options and features — all of which comes with added costs. Instead, straightforward, streamlined, and easy to use consultant tools that are designed with teams and effective communications in mind will most often fit the bill.
The toughest aspect with digital tools is, as you grow your client roster, moving between client work, jumping back and forth between pending tasks, communications threads and more, gets harder and harder to keep track of.
This is why again, simpler tools that offer more powerful functionality are often the best choice. So next, let’s look at what to look for when selecting your consulting software…
Choosing The Right Consulting Software
One of the most complex aspects of juggling your consulting work, especially when you have multiple clients, is organizing and keeping track of all the information from your various clients. No doubt, there will be a lot of communications messages going back and forth, tasks, events, and file attachments like text documents, PDFs, spreadsheets, images, and more.
That’s a lot to keep track of!
So when selecting the right software consulting tools for yourself, organization and tight, integrated communications will be paramount. Ideally you, any teammates you have, and your individual clients (including members of their teams, too) will all need immediate access to files, tasks, events, and communications.
This means that everyone involved will need to get comfortable and get onboard with the same cloud-based platform.
Many modern project management and communications platforms allow you to conduct individual and group communications, and maintain a history of all communications too. This way, you can refer back to previous messages, review past work, and see when the last time was that you spoke with specific clients and teammates. These sorts of historical trails are valuable to have in a variety of circumstances.
What’s more, integrated communications and messaging helps keep you out of your inbox and wasting time digging through archived messages to find past messages, attachments, and other materials.
Further, when looking for software consultant tools to help keep your client work organized, being able to store and catalog files like videos, images, PDFs and so on is essential. This gives everyone involved in each project direct access to assets and creative content the instant they need it.
One other element that makes managing projects, team members, and various client needs much easier is task assignment. Consulting software tools that allow you to assign tasks to yourself and others keeps everyone on track and moving forward. With an integrated tasks system, you can see what’s been assigned to whom, current task status, due dates, and more.
With all this in mind, it might seem like this is a tall order for your consulting toolkit. There’s great news though: There are free and readily available tools that can handle everything we’ve discussed…and more!
Let’s take a look…
Free Consulting Software
By now we know that having solid, reliable software in place for your consulting work helps handle your client needs and requests. With the right tools in place, everything runs much more smoothly, and you’ll be able to stay focused, organized, and on top of your client work. So with your consultant software, it’s all about efficiency — communicating with others, managing tasks, handling projects, sharing files, and more.
And this is especially necessary in a collaborative environment with many people.
In order to keep yourself, your team, and your clients all on track, one consultant software solution is Hibox. Hibox is a cloud-based team collaboration platform that focuses on real-time communication. Specifically, Hibox combines team and one-on-one direct messaging, task assignment, file sharing, video calls, and more, all built into a single app.
Team members and clients can use Hibox in their browser, while on the go with their mobile device, or Hibox is also available as a Desktop application. And best of all, you can get your team and your clients started for free!
With a communications, organization, and project management platform like Hibox in place, you and your clients can remain in constant contact. Everyone involved can maintain real-time instant communications, run video calls, share files, and more.
Because the role of a consultant is so multi-faceted, you’ll need the right tools — modern, fast, and cost-effective tools — to keep on top of your work. As mentioned earlier, here it’s all about organization and efficiency. And top collaborative platforms like Hibox make this easy and efficient.
Sign up for a free account today and give Hibox a test drive!