The Best Tools for Business Consultants

What Consulting Tools are you Using?

Regardless of whether you’re working for yourself or running a business consultancy with support staff, you need the best tools. Fortunately, we live in a world where there are so many digital solutions out there – can you imagine doing everything you do on paper? The fact is, everything from finding to clients to running projects requires you have the best tools available. Without them, you’ll be trying to juggle too many things and end up mastering none.

Here are some of the key tools you need for your business consultancy.

Benchmarking Tools

Benchmarking is one of the first things you would find yourself doing for clients. This is the process where you essentially compare your client to their competitors. The factors you’ll look at will usually include:

  • Productions costs
  • Process cycle time
  • Revenues
  • Employee turnover

As part of this process, you may even benchmark your client against leaders in their industry, even if they’re not a direct competitor. This would be done to see what is needed to achieve absolute long-term success.

This isn’t necessarily a digital tool, but more an accepted process that all business consultants need to learn. To ensure your benchmarking really has an impact, you’ll need to develop an easy way to display and present the information to your clients.

An Affordable CRM Solution

A customer relationship management (CRM) system is essential to the modern business consultant. A CRM essentially helps manage your marketing and advertising activities. In fact, it can manage all your customers’ interactions with your business. It allows you to see everything in one place – leads, sales, where clients are in terms of their customer experience. Basically, it manages your relationship with customers.

When it comes to generating more leads, converting leads into active customers, and following up on client issues, a CRM is invaluable. Some of the more popular systems include Zoho, Salesforce, Pipedrive and HubSpot. Do some research, and discover which platform is best to manage your customers moving forward.

SWOT Analysis

We touched on benchmarking before, and SWOT analysis is in the same realm. However, it is more focused on a business as a whole, whereas benchmarking can be done for individual processes.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. When meeting with clients, a great first step is to ask the management team to participate in a SWOT analysis. You’re asking them to take an honest look at where their strengths lie and what their weaknesses are. They can also identify opportunities, and potential threats to their business.

Not only does it get your clients thinking in a broad, strategic way, but it also gives you valuable insight into where they feel their business is at. Spark Chart offers easily customisable SWOT analysis survey tools to make this process a breeze.

Using a Balanced Scorecard

A balanced scorecard is a way to measure measure organisational performance, but not just your standard costs and income. The balanced scorecard gives you a comprehensive set of measures that can be tracked and monitored over time. This is particularly valuable for measuring results of the work you do to re-shape a client’s strategic direction.

The balanced scorecard may include metrics such as:

  • Market share
  • Revenue
  • Staff engagement
  • Earnings
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Quality

You might also associate these metrics with another popular term these days, being ‘organisational health’. Understanding these metrics and how to measure them at different points in your journey with that client is essential for future strategic growth. As an added bonus, it gives you a great snapshot of the successes you’ve had, which can be used as a selling point for future clients.

Time Tracking Tools

As your consultancy business grows, you’ll spend a lot of time jumping between clients. An hour here working on survey results for one, an hour there meeting with another. It can become difficult to keep track of and can create a nightmare when it comes time to send out your bills.

Using a time tracking tool such as TimeCamp or something similar can be invaluable, especially if you’re working on an hourly rate. If you’re not, tools like this are still valuable for future business planning. For example, if you have two clients, each paying the same flat fee, but you spend 75% of your time on one of them, something is off kilter. This data may be able to guide you to bill differently in future, or target your marketing towards the type of clients that take up less of your time for the same income.

Employee Pulse Surveys

What better way to get a hands-on view of how a business is going than to ask the staff directly? The people on the ground, so to speak, often have a great deal of insight into how things can be improved. Their view may not always be heard, but employee pulse surveys present a chance to get their ideas through to management.

It’s not just in operational matters where staff can be valuable, though. Staff morale, or staff engagement is crucial to a company’s success. Teams of highly engaged individuals are known to be more productive and produce more profits. So, if something isn’t going well in the workforce, your client needs to know.

Project Management Software

Having a solid project management system in place can make life so much easier, especially if your consulting takes a very collaborative approach. Whether you just need to organise your own team, or even if you want to get your client involved in the process, project management tools can make the job much more efficient.

The key with software like this is to make data available to multiple people, assign tasks accordingly, and track progress. There are plenty of tools around, with popular ones being Asana, Trello, or Monday.com. Explore which one works best for you, and take control of your consultancy projects.

The job of a business consultant is so multi-faceted, you will find it hard to keep up with all of your tasks. However, with the best tools, you can make your life a whole lot easier. Some tools are essential to getting a snapshot of your client’s business, while others help to run yours.

Make sure everything you use makes your life easier, not more complicated.

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