Sr. Content Marketing Manager
The business consulting industry is worth a whopping $225 billion (IBISWorld). If you’re trying to make a name for your own consulting business in this growing (and competitive) field, you need to optimize every aspect of your operation.
As a business consultant, your clients trust you as a be-all, end-all source of business experience and wisdom. But you need to run your own consulting practice like a well-oiled machine if you want to help your clients do the same. To talk the talk, you need to walk the walk, right?
Whether you’re a consultancy of one or you have a team of management consultants working with you, you can’t do everything by yourself. Your consulting business will inevitably face challenges, but don’t worry: the right tools will help streamline your business processes so you can scale without hesitation.
Learn more about the challenges your business consulting service might face and the 10 productivity tools for business consultants to help you jump over those hurdles with ease.
The challenges of running a consulting practice
Even the most successful consulting businesses with extensive experience under their belt aren’t without their challenges. You have to worry about problems like:
- Hybrid and remote work: 70% of white-collar workers are now remote. There’s a good chance that your team is remote at least part of the time, and that means you need a slew of business consulting software solutions and other tech to accommodate long-term remote work. Fortunately, the right project management apps will help you juggle the extra layers of complexity that come with remote work.
- Employee management: You can’t do everything by yourself. Hiring employees (and even freelancers or vendors) requires a lot of hands-on work—and that’s time you don’t have. Instead of processing employee paperwork manually or trying to nail down timesheets on your own, rely on the right tools to do all of the human capital management for you. However, you may still need expert guidance and Workday consultations to get these tools setup correctly to get the most out of it.
- Client relationships: As a business consultant, clients trust you to be an outside voice of reason. But as a professional management consultant or technology consultant, your clients expect a lot from you. You not only have to deliver amazing results but you also have to be responsive. That gets harder and harder to do as you grow your consultancy, which is why you need tools like CRM software to exceed clients’ expectations.
The good news is that business optimization is right up your alley! Approach your own consulting business as you would a client: add the necessary consulting productivity tools, project management software and automation to your business so it runs even smoother.
10 productivity tools for consulting firms
If your tech stack is already bloated, you might not know which tools, apps or automation software are must-haves and which are clogging your team’s workflow. A tool or cloud platform might not be the right solution for everything, but it’s still a great way to reduce errors, improve business processes, and save time. We recommend these 10 consulting productivity tools and apps to boost your consulting firm’s productivity.
For consulting services businesses, time is literally money. You need to keep a very accurate record of which accounts you’re working on when. Since you likely bill your clients on an hourly basis using accounting software, accurate time reporting is crucial.
Use a software solution like Toggl to track your team’s time on office tasks and client work. It even includes reports on overhead and employee scheduling so you can manage all of your team’s time in one place.
Working remotely? Since you can’t casually visit Dan’s cubicle to ask him a quick question, your team needs a chat app like Slack. Slack is great because it allows you to create internal chat threads for your team as well as externally-facing chats with your clients. It’s a useful way to stay in touch with everyone in your business without overloading your inbox.
If you aren’t using a scheduling tool like Calendly, you need to try it—this consulting productivity tool will save your team so much time. Instead of going back and forth with your clients to book a simple weekly meeting, let them book a time in Calendly. This cloud platform automatically adjusts based on your availability and even displays available times in the recipient’s time zone.
You’re juggling numerous critical tasks as a business consultant. Personalized, one-on-one outreach is essential for maintaining client relationships, but the difficulty level increases as you add more clients to the mix. As your consulting practice grows, your business needs will inevitably evolve.
A customer relationship management (CRM) platform like Copper helps you automate and scale relationship nurturing. Instead of wondering about the status of a client’s project or guessing about what a lead wants to see, trust your CRM to track this data for you.
Copper is specifically designed for consulting firms that want to delight their clients by nurturing meaningful, lasting relationships. Our Google Chrome extension lets users add contacts, track touchpoints and see real-time customer data all from within your Gmail inbox. Copper helps streamline and automate marketing, sales, and customer service outreach—perfect for satisfying your clients’ needs at every stage of their relationship with your consulting business.
Remote work can be challenging, but a comprehensive productivity and collaboration software suite like Google Workspace makes it much easier. Organize all of your essential work resources in one place, including:
- Video conferencing software
The beautiful thing about Google is that it’s intuitive and easy to use in a distributed team environment. It also integrates seamlessly with Copper, the only Google Workspace-recommended CRM. Google Workspace is also an affordable way to make the cloud accessible to your consulting team or group of management consultants, no matter where they are.
Are you in love with two consulting productivity tools that don’t integrate with each other? Sometimes you need to connect two software solutions that don’t play nice with each other, and that’s where Zapier comes in. This is an integration tool that lets you hyper-customize how your tools work together. For example, you can use Zapier to alert you on Slack when a client fills out a feedback form.
Are you subscribed to all of your clients’ email newsletters? You definitely need to keep tabs on your clients, but the deluge of emails in your inbox is overwhelming. Use a tool for business consultants like Unroll.me to consolidate all of these emails in one. Instead of receiving 20+ notifications a day, you’ll only get one.
Paper invoices and checks are so 2005. Use accounting software like QuickBooks to invoice clients, track your expenses, and forecast financial performance. You can even view real-time updates on your invoices and remind clients to pay. Plus, QuickBooks allows clients to pay online (and even set up auto-pay) so you can process everything more quickly.
You need clients to sign a contract before you can kick off their project. But it can take forever to convince someone to sign a PDF, and that’s why your consulting firm needs a tool like Docusign. Instead of allowing contracts to languish in clients’ or vendors’ inboxes, Docusign makes it easy to quickly sign documents. It will even remind your clients to sign the contract, which means sealing deals more quickly and shortening your sales process. Plus, Docusign effortlessly integrates with CRMs like Copper.
Got employees? It’s stressful managing the HR side of things as a small business, especially when you want to focus all of your energy on your clients’ needs. Business consulting software like Gusto can serve as a stand-in HR person for small consulting businesses. Use this tool to automate paychecks, track HR paperwork and provide employees with benefits.
Try the best online tools for consulting firms
These 10 consulting firm tools will help you run a saner, leaner consulting business. Delight your customers and deepen relationships by streamlining your biz with the right technology. Remember that software is still a big commitment, so understand the pricing and contract terms before you add a new tool to the mix.
As a business consultant, you know relationships are everything. Copper is an essential tool that helps you personalize every client interaction, which leads to better relationships (and long-term clients). See how Copper helps consulting firms thrive.