Consultants tend to be heavily focused on solving clients’ problems. That’s both the best and most risky thing about your profession. Going above and beyond for your clients requires a significant amount of research, critical thinking, data analysis and collaboration — in other words, time and money.
As a consequence, you and your team may not have had the time or resources to focus on the systems that need to be in place to support a heavy workload, nor considered that project management is likely one of the most important parts of your business.
However, there are significant benefits of intentional project management that apply to the consulting industry. Managing projects well is akin to maintaining the internal machinery of your business. And not doing so leaves an uncomfortable amount of room for error.
That’s why the implementation of a project management system that’s specifically designed for service businesses is not just nice to have. It’s a strategic imperative for driving the measurable part of your business.
Use this overview of benefits, considerations and popular platforms to evaluate and improve how your firm plans and delivers consulting projects.
There are few industries besides consulting in which time equates more directly to billable hours. When you streamline your operations, especially the way your team manages projects, you’ll experience what it means to thrive rather than survive. As the consulting market grows ever more competitive, you can’t afford to sit back and miss out on an opportunity to refine what and how you provide services to your clients.
A team that can comfortably track tasks and timelines can reply to clients with confidence. A team that understands potential issues can preempt them and adjust to ensure timely delivery in the end. And a team that has complete visibility can more easily talk to each other and innovate where necessary to make sure clients get the quality of service they expect.
Your team is no doubt already managing plenty of projects, but like a lot of small businesses, you might be doing so in a piecemeal way. If you’re tracking tasks, time and progress in different places, or not at all, your firm could be missing out on helpful visibility — and profit potential.
When you implement a tech platform that’s specifically built for consulting firms, you can correct hidden inefficiencies, verify how your team is spending their time and improve the quality of client communication.
The list below can help you choose software to support your preferred project management methodology.
A good project management solution for consultants should be more than just a repository for task lists; it should offer comprehensive functionality that supports the entire lifecycle of a project. Look for these five key components at a minimum.
Successful project execution starts with meticulous planning. The ideal project management tool will support due dates, deliverables, milestones and various project views, such as Kanban boards and Gantt charts. These features help consultants plot out project timelines, set expectations and keep track of progress against benchmarks.
Task management is the core of any project management system. The right tool should enable consultants to create, assign and manage tasks with ease. Features like dependencies will help consulting teams move away from spreadsheets and other outdated methods of organizing tasks.
Consulting is a team sport. So, a consulting project management solution should include robust collaboration tools that facilitate seamless communication and coordination among team members, regardless of their physical location. Shared workspaces, chat functions and commenting options are crucial for a productive team dynamic.
Automation in project management platforms significantly reduces time spent on repetitive tasks. Notifications and reminders can make sure no task is forgotten and that every person is aware of their responsibilities and upcoming deadlines. Bonus if the platform features customizable triggers!
A top-tier solution should also provide resource management features like timesheets, billable hours tracking and team scheduling. These are vital for maximizing efficiency and accounting for every hour your team dedicates to project work, which has a direct relationship with your bottom line.
If you go for a CRM that integrates project management tools with customer relationship management features, your project resources and history are tied to your client records. This synergy allows for smoother transitions from sales to service delivery, as all of the client’s information, preferences and interactions are readily accessible.
A truly integrated CRM doesn’t just have these two functions, though. It provides access to sales tracking, ticketing, billing, reporting and more in one unified space.
Knowing all of the above potential benefits, you know you need to make an informed decision about software. Yet, the research process can be overwhelming. We’re removing some of the burden by dissecting the intricacies of leading project management platforms that serve client-based businesses, including consulting firms.
Navigate to each platform to learn more:
Accelo is an end-to-end client work management platform built to help professional service businesses automate tasks, improve visibility and increase profits.
While it includes robust project management, Accelo offers solutions for all stages of client work, including sales and quoting, customer relationship management, client support and tickets, billing and retainer management.
Accelo offers five pricing plans that scale with your business, from a self-serve plan for managing client information, tasks and communication all the way to the Elite tier, which includes all quote-to-cash features, premium support and more.
READ NEXT: How These 4 Consulting Firms Use Accelo
Asana is built to enhance team productivity and project transparency. It’s a good choice for consultants who need to manage multiple tasks across various projects so nothing falls through the cracks.
Asana offers three pricing tiers:
➡️ Learn about the core differences between Accelo and Asana.
BigTime is a professional services automation (PSA) software that offers businesses real-time insights into resource allocation. The platform makes it easy to manage projects, track billable time and generate detailed reports in one integrated suite. In 2022, BigTime acquired Projector PSA — now called Projector by BigTime.
BigTime’s pricing is as follows:
➡️ Explore how BigTime compares to Accelo.
ClickUp is a modern project management platform that encourages collaboration with features such as whiteboards, Gantt charts and Kanban boards. It supports granular task management and tracking projects for various departments simultaneously.
ClickUp has four pricing tiers:
➡️ Compare the features and benefits of Accelo vs. ClickUp.
Scoro is a systems-oriented project management platform that helps consulting firms and other professional service providers manage complex projects. It improves team productivity with customized project templates and ample integrations.
Scoro does not offer a free plan. Its pricing tiers are:
➡️ Dive deeper with our comprehensive comparison of Accelo vs. Scoro.
Teamwork is a project management platform designed to facilitate collaboration and deliver a high degree of control over projects. It caters to consultants who need a clear, centralized view of project objectives, deliverables and timelines.
Along with a free plan for up to five users, Teamwork has three paid tiers:
➡️ Read more about Accelo vs. Teamwork.
Trello is a user-friendly web-based software built around the Kanban method of project management. Collaborators communicate on task cards, which they can drag and drop to various customized lists as each task advances through the project process.
Trello has four pricing tiers:
Wrike is a work management tool that consolidates internal and external communication for teams of all sizes. The interface provides at-a-glance project progress and tracks goal progress for multiple teams within an organization.
Wrike’s pricing is tiered as follows:
➡️ See even more Wrike alternatives for project management.
Choosing the right project management platform is pivotal for the growth of most consulting firms. If you find one that’s intuitive, the ease of use will encourage adoption and minimize resistance to new processes. Once implemented, it can significantly influence your operational flow and scalability.
To ensure you make an informed choice, follow these tips for vetting project management software:
The platform should have an easy-to-understand interface or offer team training and implementation support to help your consulting team become proficient quickly. During your trial or demo, note how easily you can navigate the system and complete basic tasks.
Analyze how well the platform can adapt to the evolving needs of your business. It should handle an increasing workload and more complex projects without compromising on speed or user experience. Inquire about pricing and adding new users to gauge the platform’s ability to grow alongside your business.
Integrating seamlessly with other tools is essential, especially if you’re looking at project management software that doesn’t have other client work functions built in. Check on native integrations and APIs to see if you can connect to the other platforms you already use and any you might consider in the future.
Each consulting firm has unique processes. Do you have specific workflows, project types or reporting needs that a project management tool must be able to configure?
Given the sensitive nature of client data, robust security measures are non-negotiable. Verify every potential platform’s compliance with industry standards and regulations, and look into its data encryption, access controls and backup procedures.
A responsive support team can greatly enhance — and even make or break — your experience with a software tool. Determine what kind of support is available and the hours of the support team to verify that it aligns with what your business needs.
Client testimonials and case studies can provide valuable insights into how a platform performs in the real world. As much as possible, seek user feedback from others in consulting.
Beyond the per-user monthly price, you’ll want to factor in implementation and training costs, add-ons, subscription fees for other platforms that make up for limitations and any other expenses that will accrue over time. An initially more expensive platform might offer greater long-term value than a cheaper alternative with lackluster support and minimal flexibility.
With many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which project management software is best for your consulting firm. It’s not just a matter of deciding on tools — it’s a strategic move that can ultimately shape how your firm operates, collaborates and delivers value to clients.
As you seek to understand your firm’s specific needs and how they align with the capabilities of the software, don’t forget to consider what your firm requires today and what it will need in the future. If you put effort into finding a long-lasting solution, you’ll be able to keep up with the ever-changing worlds of project management and consulting.
In an effort to simplify this process and minimize confusion, we want to have a conversation with you. In an Accelo demo, you’ll get a chance to express your biggest challenges and past roadblocks, and we’ll help you envision how efficient and profitable your business could be with the right technology.
If you’re ready to consolidate platforms and help your entire team through every stage of client work, including project management, consider reaching out to us to book your demo.