How To Choose a Tech Stack That Supports Your Consulting Firm’s Growth

20-Apr 2022
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Chelsea Williams SENIOR COPYWRITER

The digital age began years ago, but businesses' use of digital products changed dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After two years of adapting to remote work and navigating the Great Resignation, professional services businesses have reached a new level of digitalization

Consulting firms, in particular, are finding fresh ways to incorporate tech solutions to meet rising demand and their clients’ evolving needs despite economic hardships. 

However, the quick pace required to adopt new tech has left consulting businesses vulnerable to a common problem: using a tech stack comprised of too many — or the wrong kind of — platforms that don’t communicate well with each other.

In this article, we explore steps for choosing the best range of technology for your consulting business:

Assess Existing Business Processes

Before making any changes to your existing technology usage, it’s vital to assess the functionality of what you already have and determine where there might be gaps in your processes.

Start by listing every software your team uses now and to which stages of client work they apply. It’s critical to cover every paid and free platform used for all tasks, from prospecting to invoicing. You might have your employees complete an inventory of their logins and passwords, then cross-check each of their listed platforms to avoid overlooking any.

TIP: Check monthly bank statements to ensure you’re not forgetting about a paid subscription.

Tally how many platforms you use in total and break them down by department and client work stage.

Next, explore the following questions with your leadership team:

  • Do we pay for any software we haven’t used in the past three months? Not only are unused subscriptions an unnecessary hit to your wallet, but they can cause operational confusion that could impact everything from onboarding employees to collecting client payments. 
  • Where are the bottlenecks in our current approaches? It’s crucial to uncover the tasks regularly delayed by a certain individual or because of tech limitations. This discovery may require meeting with your managers or consultants to better understand their day-to-day frustrations.
  • Which tasks might we automate to ease the burden on our team? Find out if there are any stages or tasks you don’t currently have an appropriate software for. Automation is often easy to implement and can save your team precious time they could devote to more growth-oriented work.

The final step in this assessment is to consider how easily you can gather data from each platform you use. If reporting takes up copious hours and requires logging in to multiple platforms, there’s probably a better way.

While you may not be excited to dive into a full evaluation of your consulting firm’s relationship with tech, this simple process will make the problems with your existing procedures apparent and give you the evidence you need to choose a tech stack that really works.

Why Integration and Consolidation Matter

Let’s consider one more element: how well those platforms you listed speak to each other.

Many people think of integration, or connecting two platforms, as key to using technology successfully. However, integrations won’t always serve the purpose you need. Your team should only take the time to set up integrations if they save time by replacing manual processes. Integration shouldn’t just be a nice-to-have that your business doesn’t need to achieve maximum productivity or efficiency.

For example, connecting your CRM to quote creation software could be useful because it allows your team to easily reference a client’s history at any time. On the other hand, integrating your project management tool with a billing system and then a separate accounting solution could be redundant and leave your team searching in two places for similar information.

Sometimes, consolidation is a wiser option. Reducing the number of logins your team needs can simplify their jobs and increase the visibility of projects. More importantly, it minimizes the risk of error or confusion and supports transparent client relationships. 

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Explore Your Software Options 

Once you know what your tech stack looks like now, which functions you need to automate and where you might be able to consolidate, you’re ready to move forward with evaluating specific alternatives.

Use the following table to discover which popular consulting tech platforms may best suit your business.

CRM

Budget and timeline estimation

Customizable interface

Quote-to-project generation

Templated prospect outreach

Workflow automation

Accelo

HubSpot

 

 

Salesforce

Pipedrive

 

 

Proposal generator

Custom fields

Custom branding

Detailed project plan

eSigning

Recipient commenting

Accelo

 

 

PandaDoc

   

Proposify

 

 

Qwilr

 

 

File storage

256-bit AES file encryption

Cloud-based

Easy file sharing

Native to client work management platform

Team collaboration

Accelo

 

Dropbox

 

Google Drive

 

 

Microsoft OneDrive

 

Client scheduling

Buffer time before and after meetings

Custom reminders

Integrates with scheduling platforms

Various meeting types

Video meeting integration

Accelo

   

   

Acuity Scheduling

 

Calendly

 

Google Calendar

     

Project management 

Ability to track recurring engagements

Client portal

Mobile app

Templates for client work

Time tracking

Accelo

Scoro

 

Trello

 

 

Wrike

 

Reporting

Collaboration capabilities

Dashboard format

Easy-to-read charts

Employee utilization reports

Profit forecasts per project

Accelo

Google Analytics

 

 

Microsoft Excel

 

   

Tableau

   

Billing & Invoicing

Automatic retainer tracking

Client visibility of billing history

Payment collection

Receipt customization

Templates

Accelo

Stripe

 

Wave

   

Zoho Invoice

 

Accounting

Bank account integration

Client access

Integrates with accounting platforms

Payroll completion

Tax compliance

Accelo

   

   

Freshbooks

   

Quickbooks

 

Xero

 

Review even more features you’ll get with Accelo.

The Costs of Tech vs. Labor

If the thought of additional investments is overwhelming, it’s also worth completing an analysis of the cost of people vs. tech before you make any changes.

Ideally, you should already know how much it costs you to bring on a new employee. Now, calculate the savings of replacing some daily functions for many employees with a new tech solution. The cost of that solution is likely to be less than the savings it offers.

Granted, seeing these savings could take some time. During the adoption period, it’s unlikely you’ll see an immediate return. But once your team is fully trained in a new system, you might find it’s a big money-saving move in the long run.

Support Your Business Like You Support Your Clients

Your team of talented consultants is trained to think about what’s best for every client’s business. It’s time to think like a consultant about your own business.

If your consulting firm were a client, what kinds of tech stack changes would you advise they implement? Put in the same effort to collect data and make strategic decisions that you would for clients and you’ll more easily make the transition to using a fully functional tech stack.

READ NEXT: How These 4 Consulting Firms Use Accelo

Also, remember: Your clients expect your team to consist of experts in wise tech adoption these days. Maintaining your consultants’ digital skills means offering them a modern, efficient range of tech platforms that can boost their confidence in advising clients.

Ready to renew your consulting firm’s approach to technology? Accelo gives you the ultimate consolidated tech stack: six robust products in one. And it’s built for professional services businesses like yours. Start your free trial to experience what your firm’s relationship with tech could look like. 

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