Software for Consultants - 5 essential tools consultants need in their tech stack
Evaluating Enterprise Technology Vendors
As a consultant working on behalf of clients, a huge part of your role is performing a thorough evaluation of the businesses tech stack and requirements, and thoroughly evaluating technology vendors against the unique criteria the process unearths. This process is the key to successful business transformation, and should most definitely be part of your offering in 2021.
However, evaluating technology vendors is a long, and difficult process, made even more difficult by the ongoing pandemic, and the permanent changes to our way of working that it has caused. If you thought shadowing teams and stakeholders to gather and rank software requirements was difficult before March 2020, try doing that all online, remotely across a surfeit of software.
Adding layers of technology upon your trusted software selection process, with stakeholders across the globe, cross referencing information in a plethora of project management tools, spreadsheets and the like to determine what solutions will help that client innovate, or solve a problem, can often lead to inefficiencies that hinder the process.
This is ironic, as the majority of IT consultants are engaged to help the company make sweeping changes to their own business process, to fit into this new world and way of working.
Consultants need to assess the current situation, gain insights from key stakeholders on what the needs of the business are, build a list of requirements, determine the validity of each requirement, build out an RFP etc. The process is tedious, and can often be rife with bias and risk, but it's necessary in order to find the right solution.
It is no wonder that many consultants are turning to technology evaluation platforms like Olive, so they too can leverage the benefits of digital transformation in their own realms. Even if the big 5 consulting agencies are still running the process of technology evaluations in outdated tools, (basically, a collection of spreadsheets) it doesn’t mean the entire consulting industry needs to be held back from transforming, and automating their processes to help other companies transform faster. Your expertise, in addition to the cutting edge tech you use to run your process can help you stand out from the competition, grow your consulting business and deliver world class recommendations to your clients.
The 5 essential software solutions for consultants in 2021
1. Survey software collaborate with key stakeholders, and gather data
Collaboration with key stakeholders, is key to finding what the organization needs. In their opinion, what does the technology need to have or do, and how to you find that out quickly and accurately? How do you find out the priority requirements.
Often consultants turn to survey software solutions to collaborate and glean data from the organization. When it comes to implementation, this buy-in is invaluable, as the organization is much more likely to accept the solution when they are given the opportunity to contribute to the decision. Post implementation surveys can be used to gather feedback and identify gaps in the implementation that should be fixed.
Survey Software Examples for Consultants
Qualtrics Core XM
3. Spreadsheets to record and manage data, and evaluation criteria
Gathering and managing large amounts of data securely is one of the most tedious aspects of running technology evaluations. During the requirements gathering process, spreadsheets and pre made templates are used to document this work. Gathering and ranking the requirements of your client can lead to sleepless nights of aggregating spreadsheets and lost information. A formula in the wrong place of your evaluation criteria scorecard can erase weeks of due diligence, so when you are looking for the right Spreadsheet tool, make sure it's secure, efficient and scalable.
Examples of Spreadsheet Software for Consultants
Apache OpenOffice Calc
3. RFP management Software
RFP management software is used to simplify and automate the proposal process and the RFP process. Common features include; proposal templates, RFP, RFI, DDQ, templates. etc. While still helpful for waterfall technology evaluations, most consultants still need to export this information across spreadsheets, or paste it into their chosen project management software. If running a more agile process, this can create opportunity for human error, as you revisit requirements.
Examples of RFP management Software for Consultants
4. Project Management Software
Project management software is necessary for keeping your technology evaluations, or multiple technology evaluations on track. PM tools will help your team collaborate better on multiple projects simultaneously, and can also facilitate collaboration with key stakeholders. For consultants, it’s important to look out for features such as ease of use, collaboration, clear reporting and aggregation of data.
Examples of project management software for consulting firms
5. CRM Software for Consultants
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a key player in the consultants tech stack. Working to acquire and sell to clients is a key part of growing a consulting business, and starting out with a great CRM can deliver many benefits such as the option to perform in-depth analysis of your clients and your interactions with them, manage client records, provide reports to help with forecasting and record communication between you and your clients.
Examples of CRM systems for consultants and small consultancy firms
What are the best software choices for consultants?
The truth is, when it comes to choosing the best solutions for your business, you must be clear on what you need. Looking at the top ‘10 CRM for consultants’ won’t give you a list of vendors matched to your unique needs. When buying any technology, it’s vital to perform a thorough evaluation of the available solutions to ensure what you buy matches your needs, and doesn’t end up becoming a piece of shelfware.
Starting out with identifying your business needs, building out requirements and using those to inform your choice will help you find opportunities to integrate solutions and use one tool for many parts of your process.
At Olive, we believe you need to begin by looking at the problem you are trying to solve first. Take the time to speak to the stakeholders involved. In their opinion, what would a software solution need to do? What are the priority requirements? Only by collaborating with stakeholders will you get their buy-in when it comes to implementation. Olive’s process helps you do all that you need to do in less time.
Olive is software built for consultants, that helps you manage evaluations projects and more!
Our users have project and requirements templates ready to go in the app. Deploying an evaluation is easy, and our users can speak one to many with Olive’s surveys. Responses are automatically gathered in the app, and you can then give them weight by easily ranking the important ones. Automating these activities, limits cross referencing, speeds collaboration and saves many hours.
Successful digital transformation requires creating a strategy, getting the input of relevant stakeholders to deeply understand the needs of the business, and then evaluating the solutions available. However, that is not what the typical sources of advice will suggest. The unfortunate irony is that waterfall processes and old school tools are still used to evaluate technology, even by the big 5 consulting firms. As transformative and innovative as the process is supposed to be, there is no innovation within the system of finding the right technology vendors. This is one of the reasons why we created Olive! We saw that many of these activities run on separate tools could be combined into one solution.
#RIPRFP - with Olive you will never have to create an RFP again. Invite relevant vendors into the platform to respond to the evaluation criteria, and your clients requirements. Olive’s software makes it a breeze for vendors to respond to the opportunity, so you get the results faster than an RFP. Olive’s agility means this work can begin as soon as your stakeholders start responding to surveys, so if you miss a requirement, or need to spend time digging into something specific, the project keeps moving. With this work in motion, you can begin to disregard vendors who don’t meet the needs of your client.
Your expertise, in addition to the cutting edge tech you use to run your process can help you stand out from the competition, grow your consulting business and deliver world class recommendations to your clients.
Book a meeting to see how you can improve your processes with Olive.