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Consulting businesses are dynamic, ever-changing entities that are always looking for new tools.
TECHNOLOGY 16 mins 26 Jul 2018 by Ryan Hansen
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Consulting businesses are dynamic, ever-changing entities that are always looking for new tools to improve their business processes and overall efficiency. Consulting is all about making the right move at the right time, and the right business consulting software is essential for success.

Unlike other kinds of software, the software consulting firms use isn’t contained in any single category. Instead, a combination of different kinds of software usually provides the best overall solution.

Using a combination of different kinds of software to create a comprehensive, overall solution gives consultants the flexibility they need to provide the best services to their clients.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled the most important categories of software you should consider, along with the top five individual choices in each category.

Continue reading to learn more about the best business consulting software you need.

What to Look for in Business Consulting Software

As we researched the different categories and individual software picks within them, we first looked at a broader spectrum of features you should consider while making a purchase. In an overall sense, business consulting software should provide the following benefits:

  • Flexibility – since consulting is such a dynamic industry, business consulting software needs to be much more flexible than other kinds of software. Consultants should be able to get creative with the way they use the software in order to meet the needs of their clients.
  • Customizability – admins and managers should have the option to customize their consulting software to fit the way they run their business and teams. Sometimes this customization occurs at the time of purchase, while other software choices allow managers to customize on the fly.
  • Scalability – since consulting firms are constantly gaining and losing clients, the software they use needs to be as scalable as possible. This scalability often includes offering contract-free options that you can change at will. The best business consulting software will provide extra features on an a la carte basis, so you can pick and choose what you need depending on you and your clients’ needs.
  • Comprehensive Customer Support – Whatever software you choose for your consulting firm, ensure the parent company provides comprehensive customer support. The best consulting software gives you 24/7 support through a variety of different support channels, like live chat, phone lines and online forums.

We also researched the top features to look for within each category of software and list these key considerations within each section below.

Proposal Software

Proposal software aims to make the overall proposal process simpler for you and your clients through features like proposal templates and increased visibility. The most important features to consider in a proposal software include:

  • Speed – the best proposal software options allow you to create and send out new proposals with speed. This often comes in the form of pre-made templates that only require you to fill out certain fields rather than create a whole new document from scratch.
  • Automation – automation is king in today’s tech industry, and proposal software should be able to automate your proposal process so all you need to do is click the send button when you’re ready. The best proposal software does the rest for you so you don’t have to rely on several different tools.
  • Visibility – when you send a proposal, you want to know when it has been viewed and signed. The best proposal software allows you to see when a client has completed their portion of the proposal and gives you greater visibility over the life of the proposal.

Here are the top proposal software choices for consultants to use:

1. Ignition

Ignition is a software that helps you create comprehensive proposals and send them directly to your clients so you can more easily earn the money you deserve for your services. It creates a much more efficient proposal process that keeps you moving forward.

Ignition features:

  • Simple proposal creation with a library of customizable templates
  • Ability to collect one-off and recurring payments right on your proposals
  • Comprehensive business dashboard so you can easily monitor cash flow, sales and revenue
  • e-Signature capabilities so your customers can sign your proposals with greater convenience
  • In-depth commenting system allows your clients to add feedback or objections directly to the proposal
  • Integration with third-party accounting software like QBO and Xero, along with workflow software like Zapier and XPM

2. Proposify

Proposify’s aim is to streamline the entire proposal process, from start to finish. This is an affordable software that helps you add an extra level of visual design to your proposals, following the idea that this will impress your clients more.

Proposify features:

  • Fully customizable proposal templates allow you to add video and other visual elements
  • Mobile access allows your clients to review proposals on the go
  • Team collaboration for better communication between teams and tracking of important deadlines
  • Interactive tables so your client can choose from a list of the different services you provide
  • Public API for integration with your CRM and invoicing software tools

3. PandaDoc

PandaDoc is a software made for sales teams, marketing teams and company leadership teams. Geared toward fast-moving companies that are looking to quickly gain more customers, this proposal software focuses on efficiency and analytics.

PandaDoc features:

  • Web-based functionality allows you to create proposals anywhere and on any device, as long as you’re connected to the internet
  • Advanced analytics that track proposal views, time spent viewing proposals and more
  • Customizable proposal design with a library of ready-to-edit and ready-to-use templates to fit a variety of different situations
  • e-Signature functionality for faster signing
  • Team collaboration features that give your employees the option to work on proposals together and give your clients a voice during the proposal process

4. BidSketch

BidSketch is a proposal software that is dedicated to saving you more time to focus on the needs of your clients. It can help you remember exactly what needs to go into your proposals, and it also includes a variety of other tools that you can use to increase revenue and overall success.

BidSketch features:

  • A library full of proposal templates that you can easily fill out with personalized information for the client
  • Unique upselling features allow you to easily add optional fees and services for your clients to consider
  • Automation for the steps following the proposal signing so your clients aren’t just waiting for more information
  • In-depth notification system that keeps you up to date with all the actions your client is taking with the proposal Integration with other consulting software like SalesForce, Zapier and more

5. Qwilr

Qwilr is a proposal software that focuses on intuitive and simple design features that make it easier for you to make visual and personalized proposals. With other features that help you measure proposal success, this software is a handy tool for any consultancy firm.

Qwilr features:

  • Design features focused on consistency help keep your brand visible across all proposal templates
  • Increased security functionality that includes password protection, view limits and time limits
  • Reporting features allow you to see how long clients are viewing your proposals and what areas they spend the most time on
  • Integration with third-party software to keep your business streaming without any hiccups
  • Comprehensive team collaboration functionality streamlines the editing and approval process

Project Management Software

Project management software helps teams collaborate better on multiple projects simultaneously. The most important features to consider for project management software include:

  • Ease of Use – usability is important for any software, but it’s especially important for project management software to be easy to use. The best project management software features in-system tutorials along with simple interfaces that make it more accessible to new and experienced team members.
  • Real-time Collaboration – project management software should allow you collaborate with other team members in real time. The most common forms of this include commenting and direct messaging functionality.
  • Reporting Functionality – if you want to know how well your team is performing, your project management software should have comprehensive reporting functionality. The best options provide customizable reports to track average task completion time, incomplete tasks and more.

Here are the top project management software options for consultancy firms:

Mavenlink is a project management software that is dedicated to helping consulting businesses maximize utilization and improve overall margins. If you're looking for an all-in-one business consulting software, you definitely want to check out Mavenlink. This software focuses on creating the most collaborative environment as possible so you can meet your deadlines and increase your efficiency.

Mavenlink features:

  • Executive dashboard gives you deeper insights into the use of your resources so you can improve areas that need work and praise teams who are performing exceptionally
  • Comprehensive resource planning features help you understand in real time how your employees are spending their time
  • Simple overview dashboard provides a quick look into the projects you are managing and the resources being used
  • Integration with other business consulting software like CRM and accounting tools

2. Avaza

Avaza is a project management software that focuses on simplicity over tons of functionality. It provides just what you need to manage your client projects with ease through reporting, automation and helpful integration.

Avaza features:

  • Simple and comprehensive dashboard allows you to easily change views based on the type of information you want to see
  • Convert emails into tasks and collaborate more with teammates through a useful commenting system
  • Create roles for users and assign them to different projects based on those roles
  • Client collaboration tools give you the option to allow clients to help with certain projects
  • Automate your processes through templates, calendar syncing and recurring tasks and expense functionality

3. Zoho

Zoho project management software is all about deep diving into analytics and data visualization. If you’re looking to get in-depth insights about the projects you’re working on, Zoho is a solid choice.

Zoho features:

  • Mobile apps on iPhone and Android to keep you up to speed on projects even when you’re out of the office
  • Helpful document management tools gives your team access to important documents in real time
  • Generate Gantt charts for all your projects to visualized overall project progression
  • Seamless team collaboration keeps teams and clients working closely with one another for greater success
  • Track billable hours so you can get paid appropriately

4. Accelo

Accelo is a project management software that focuses on automation for greater efficiency and better success overall. With comprehensive project planning tools, this software is a great addition to your consultancy software lineup.

Accelo features:

  • In-depth project creation and tracking tools so you’re never out of the loop
  • Automate reporting, invoicing, time approvals and other notifications
  • Team scheduling functionality keeps your team on track and you informed of what everyone is doing
  • Drag and drop Gantt charts for better timeline visualization
  • Track everyone’s time to identify inefficiencies or great needs

5. Workfront

Workfront has created a project management software that is scalable and flexible. This cloud-based application has a lot of functionality that can help you take your consulting business to the next level.

Workfront features:

  • Wide team collaboration tools that keep you connected to clients and employees alike
  • Automated workflows so you can create a more streamlined project management process
  • Real-time reporting features help you stay in the know at any given moment
  • Seamless syncing between different devices
  • Fully customizable to fit your own needs and the needs of your clients

CRM Software

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is especially important part of the business consulting software matrix, as they often work with a high number of different clients at any given. CRM software keeps all your client records and associated important information in the same place for easier management. The best CRM software gives you the following features:

  • Customization – CRM software doesn’t do you any good if you can’t see the information you need for your clients. The best CRM software gives you plenty of customization options so you can tailor your dashboards to display your choice of information.
  • Advanced analytics – the best CRM software should provide you the option to perform in-depth analysis of your clients and your interactions with them. You should be able to generate reports that can be exported for your own use.
  • Simple interface – it’s likely that almost everyone in your organization will use the CRM software you purchase. As such, it should feature a simple interface that isn’t too difficult to learn or use.

1. HubSpot CRM

HubSpot CRM offers a lot of workforce software options, but its CRM software is completely free, making it a great choice for consulting companies on a budget. It provides helpful analytics and a simple interface that is easy to learn and use.

HubSpot CRM features:

  • Some marketing features and functionality that isn’t typically offered with CRM software
  • Visible pipeline interface displays everything you need to see with ease
  • Automate sales and customer activity through integration and syncing with Gmail and Outlook
  • Create email templates and measure their performance
  • Real-time notifications keep you up to date with prospective clients as they open emails and download attachments
  • Call clients from directly within the system and log those calls for future reporting purposes

2. Pipedrive

Pipedrive is an out-of-the-box CRM software that features easy set up and focuses on creating a picture of your sales pipeline that is more visual than other software. Ultimately, this helps your employees quickly assess what your clients need and the next steps of the sales process.

Pipedrive features:

  • Drag-and-drop functionality is an easy-to-use interface for moving deals between different stages
  • Sales forecasting feature helps you predict revenue and understand what deals are most likely to succeed
  • Helpful reminder system keeps you up to date through email and mobile notifications
  • Mobile apps on iOS and Android devices for on-the-go access
  • Integration with Google Drive to import contacts and Google Calendar to sync your existing activities and meetings

3. Salesforce

Salesforce is the biggest CRM software on the market. It focuses on serving enterprise-level customer. It offers a ton of customization options and the widest range of features overall.

Salesforce features:

  • Easy and extensive customize options allow you to create a truly unique and targeted CRM solution
  • Intuitive interface minimizes the amount of training you need to provide for your employees
  • Helpful and knowledgeable customer support is available 24/7 through various channels
  • In-depth reporting features help you learn more about your clients
  • Extensive integrations gives you the availability to use Salesforce seamlessly with your other software

4. Copper (formerly ProsperWorks CRM)

Copper is a CRM software that is made specifically for companies that use Google G Suite. In fact, it’s the only CRM software that Google itself uses. This CRM software focuses on ease of use and added visibility.

Copper wfeatures

  • Google Chrome extension to add contacts and track emails that have been opened in real time
  • Easy-to-use interface matches the visual style and simplicity of the Google Apps
  • Automate a lot of manual processes by linking related files, emails and calendar events
  • Integrate with Google Hangouts to keep up with your team and their progress with leads and contacts
  • Extensive reporting functionality connects directly to Google Sheets

Billing and Invoicing Software

Collecting payment is one of the most important parts of being a consultant. If you don’t have an easy and efficient way of collecting payment from your clients, it can quickly become a headache for both you and them. Billing and invoice software helps you keep your accounting on track. The best options in this category should offer the following features:

  • Payment flexibility – the best billing and invoicing software gives you flexibility in the types of payments you can accept. With the emergence of different payment avenues such as PayPal and Venmo, the invoicing software you choose should give you the option to accept a variety of different payment types.
  • Templates – to make things quicker and more efficient for you, it’s important for your invoicing software to feature pre-made invoice templates. The software should also allow you to create your own or edit the existing templates for greater flexibility.
  • International currency – if you service international clients, your billing and invoicing software should give you the ability to convert fees into international currencies. This way, you can prevent your international clients from going through the trouble of doing all the conversion themselves.

1. Ignition

Ignition does a lot more than just proposals. You can accept payments via credit card or bank transfer right on your proposals. That means that you're accepting payments up front, not waiting for invoices to clear. Ignition is pretty much the perfect software for business consultants.

Ignition features:

  • Allows you to collect one-off or recurring payments right on your proposals
  • Seamless integrations with Xero and QBO to automate your invoicing and reconciliation
  • Service library makes it easy to provide accurate quotes
  • Built in dashboard makes it easy to monitor cash flow and project payments

2. Xero

Xero is an in-depth accounting software company that also provides a comprehensive invoicing solution for consultancy businesses. With greater security and a large library of pre-made templates, this invoicing software is a good choice for small to large consulting businesses.

Xero features:

  • Automated reminder system notifies your customers of payments due at customizable intervals
  • Two-step authentication prevents unauthorized users from accessing the invoices you send to your clients
  • Send bulk invoices to increase your overall efficiency and payment rate
  • Create recurring invoices for greater convenience
  • Send invoices on the go with your mobile devices

3. QuickBooks Online

Quickbooks is another big name in the accounting software industry, and its billing and invoicing offering reflects that reliability. Quickbooks is made by Intuit, the same company that created TurboTax and Mint, so there’s already a high level of trust built in to the product.

Quickbooks features:

  • Generate encrypted links to your invoices for greater security, which you can then send via text message and email
  • Various payment types accepted, including ApplePay and free bank transfers
  • Fully customizable invoices that you can create from scratch or from a template
  • Add deposits, discounts and other special circumstances to your invoices
  • Real-time notifications alert you whenever a client has viewed or paid an invoice

4. Wave Accounting

Wave Accounting offers a host of different accounting software, including a helpful billing and invoicing option. This software is easy to use and features a simple interface that is easy to understand.

Wave Accounting features:

  • Recurring invoice functionality keeps you on track and helps you get paid on time with each of your clients
  • Helpful notification system reminds your clients when their payments are due
  • Includes free accounting software that integrates seamlessly with your invoices
  • Create invoices on the go through the iOS and Android apps
  • Easily view invoice status and customer statements in one place

5. Freshbooks

FreshBooks is a big name in the accounting software industry, and it’s easy to see why. This company’s invoicing software is comprehensive, visually pleasing and incredibly easy to use. With automation and convenience features, you’ll be up and running in no time with this invoice software.

FreshBooks features:

  • In-depth invoice creation templates give you more options to create beautiful invoices that will impress your clients
  • Accept payments with credit cards and Apple Pay
  • Automate reminders and follow ups with your clients to save you more time in the long run
  • Include deposits on your invoices so you can more easily get started on your projects Track time you worked and expenses you incurred for the project and include them on the invoice

Other Software

  1. Time Management Software – if you feel like you or your employees aren’t getting enough done during the day, you might want to consider purchasing a time management solution. This tool allows you to track the amount of time worked on each project and identify areas where you can become more efficient.
  2. Contract Management Software – many consultancy firms work with contracts, and in today’s age of technology, it shouldn’t be difficult managing those contracts. Contract management software manages all your contracts within the system and gives you more flexibility and visibility with the overall contract signing process.

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Published 26 Jul 2018 Last updated 28 Oct 2022