Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Being in the consulting business means being agile. You have to respond quickly to new information and use it to best serve your clients. To do that effectively, you need the right consulting software.
Consulting firms make use of a variety of different programs tailored to different parts of the job, from data gathering to client communication. The more bases you can cover with your software solutions, the better off you’ll be.
You probably have a decent idea of what software you need to be an effective business consultant. In fact, you might already use some of the items on this list.
But do you know what to look for when adding new software to your toolkit? Do you know what categories of software help you form the most well-rounded software solutions for business consulting?
Read on to find out.
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What to look for in your business consulting software
Before getting into the specifics of which programs you should use, it’s helpful to first understand the different features of effective software. When looking to get the most out of your investment, choose software that is:
Different clients have different needs. Look for software that lets you get creative. It’s essential that the tools you use are able to adapt to the job.
No two teams are alike. The software you use should let you customize it for best use by you and your staff. Whether you customize it when you buy, or later on, good software can be built around your business.
You’ll need to be able to adapt the software you use to the size of your client base as it fluctuates. Look for software that allows a la carte customization options you can add when you need them and remove when you don’t. No-contract options are also a plus.
Fantastic in customer support
Make sure that the software you’re choosing has solid customer support. Even if it doesn’t seem like things can go wrong, an error that takes too long to solve because you can’t contact anyone can be costly. Look for companies that offer customer support 24/7, through multiple channels like email, online chat, online forums, and over the phone.
There are multiple types of business consulting software, each with their individual benefits. Each of the software offerings listed here will fit into one of four categories:
Project Management Software
Billing and Invoicing Software
Each category will be broken down into its core features with software solutions listed after.
As a business consultant, you don’t want to have a clunky proposal process. Instead, make the experience as efficient and easy for the client as possible. For example, choosing software with proposal templates can increase the speed of the entire proposal process — and make what you send to the client more aesthetically pleasing.
Other great features for proposal software include:
Speed: The best proposal software will let you create and send proposals to the client quickly. Templates and smooth UI can enable you to create a professional-looking proposal without spending an entire day on it.
Automation: Automated features that let you program and send a proposal with a click or two can save you a lot of time and headache. More and more programs are taking advantage of automation in today’s business world.
Visibility: Look for software that lets you easily track when your proposal has been sent, seen, and signed. Greater visibility helps everyone stay on the same page and keeps each party accountable for their portion of a task.
Here are a few of the best choices for proposal software today.
1. Practice Ignition
With the tagline “proposal to paid in one place,” Practice Ignition aims to be a one-stop-shop for the proposal process. Create comprehensive proposals and get them right to your clients so you get paid in a timely manner for your services.
Practice Ignition includes features designed to make the proposal process speedy and efficient, like premade templates. You can also collect one-time payments or set up a recurring payment schedule, right from the proposal you send.
This software is also e-sign capable, so your clients can add their signature right in the document. They can also add any comments or objections they may have before the proposal is finalized. Practice Ignition also integrates with commonly used payroll and workflow programs like Xero and Zapier.
Another excellent program for streamlining the proposal process, Proposify is an option that smaller consultants on a budget will want to take a look at. This software also lets you add in more visual elements to your proposal to create a polished, professional feel.
Proposify’s templates are one of its main strengths. Users can add elements like images and videos to make their proposals interesting, informative, and interactive. Collaboration features mean your team can easily communicate and track the progress of each proposal, and address any issues that arise.
Clients can also view your proposal on the go with mobile device access. There are even interactive tables you can insert into the document so your client can choose which of your services they’d like to hire you for.
A software option that lets you move quickly, PandaDoc puts the focus on efficiency and analytics. That makes sense, considering it’s a software designed for sales and marketing teams looking to quickly grow their client base.
Because it’s web-based, PandaDoc lets you create proposals anywhere on any device so long as you have an internet connection. There are also in-depth analytics features built in that let you track everything from who’s viewed your proposal to how much time that person spent reading it.
PandaDoc comes with a library of templates ready to go, with several options to choose from depending on the situation. Collaborative features let your team stay on top of a proposal, and e-sign capability makes it easy for clients to approve it.
BidSketch lets you put a professional-looking proposal together very quickly, and automates the steps after signing so your client isn’t kept waiting. This program also lets you upsell to clients by adding additional features or services they can consider, and opt to pay more for right there in the proposal.
BidSketch also sends you notifications for every step in the process, letting you track each proposal easily. It also integrates with a host of other software options like Zapier and SalesForce.
Qwilr’s visual features make it easy to use as a branding tool in addition to proposal management software. Its templates are designed to be consistent across multiple platforms, from desktop to mobile, so it’s easy to establish a brand look.
Qwilr incorporates security measures like password protection, view limits, and time limits to help keep your documents and information safer. This program also includes reporting features that let you see who viewed your proposal and for how long.
Collaboration features to streamline the process of editing and approving your proposals round this software out and make it a strong option to consider for your toolkit.
Project management software
If you’re trying to step up your efficiency, you’ll need good project management, and the right software can help with that in a big way. Look for programs that offer:
Ease of use: Multiple team members will need to use this software independently. That means your team should be able to pick it up and go. Software with an easy-to-use interface and built-in tutorials for more complicated processes is best.
Real-time collaboration: Software with comment and messaging functionality will let you and your team collaborate on a project in real-time. This is a must when you need to move quickly.
Data reporting: Try and find software with comprehensive reporting functionality. This allows you to set benchmarks, analyze how well your team is meeting them, and figure out what you can do better next time.
Take a look at your needs and choose one of these solid software options to help with project management.
1. Kantata Cloud for Professional Services (formerly Mavenlink + Kimble)
Katana markets itself as an all-in-one solution for project management. This software puts the focus on collaboration to help manage projects efficiently and deliver them on deadline.
An executive dashboard feature provides a bird’s eye view of where your resources are going, and how people are performing. In-depth planning features also let you track the amount of time being spent on each facet of a project. And Katana connects with the other tools you use to run your business, like your CRM software.
Avaza focuses on simplicity. It doesn’t come with a bunch of bells and whistles, but it does have everything you need to get the job done.
Avaza’s easy-to-use dashboard feature lets you see timelines for multiple projects at a glance, or tailor the display to view just the information you want. Commenting features let team members collaborate and keep track of everyone’s ideas.
Avaza also lets you automate recurring processes for speed and efficiency, making use of templates. You can create different roles for your staff and assign them projects based on those roles.
While mainly billed as a powerful scheduling tool, Calendly can also do a lot to help streamline the project management process for consultants and freelancers.
When sending prospects that first email, for example, Calendly lets you include a link for them to schedule a meeting. You can also program in buffer time and limit the number of meetings scheduled each day.
Calendly also integrates with Stripe and Paypal to handle payments easily up front — clients can submit payment as soon as they schedule with you. This software also lets you reach out to interested leads first, so you can connect quickly and reduce customer drop-off.
Collaborative features like comments, messaging, and video calls let your team stay connected as well, even on flexible schedules.
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Zoho’s strong suit is data analytics and visualization. If you’re looking for granular detail from your customer data, consider taking this software for a test run.
Mobile apps for iOS and Android let you and your team track projects even when you’re not at your desk. And document management tools mean your team can access anything they need to work on in real time.
This software lets you build Gantt charts to track the progress of your projects, and immediately notifies you of any deviations between planned progress and actual progress toward your project goals. Tasks can be automated with a drag-and-drop interface.
Zoho also lets you track your billable hours, so you get paid fairly for your work.
Accelo’s focus is on automation. Users can automate everything from invoicing to notifications to time approvals, so you can free up space to focus on the more complicated tasks involved with managing your latest project.
Built-in tools let you track everyone’s time. Scheduling functionality lets you know what your team is working on and when. Accelo also lets you construct Gantt charts to track progress with a drag-and-drop builder.
Accelo offers a client-side portal, so your customers can submit and track their tickets with you. Internal collaborative features let your team work together on projects and prioritize their individual tasks. Invoicing and expenses can also be handled in Accelo with easy submission for reimbursement.