8 Essential Software Tools for ConsultantsSupport
Whether you’re a financial consultant, IT consultant, marketing and sales consultant, you most likely do a variety of tasks. This can range from project management and creating drawings to managing your website and billing. With every software category potentially having hundreds of options, the search for software to help you be more efficient becomes daunting.
Then there’s the price, which adds up depending on the software you need. You most likely already use software like Microsoft Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
Now it’s a matter of rounding out the rest of your software suite to multiply your productivity. While you might do photo touchups and editing, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on Photoshop when there are simpler, more affordable alternatives.
These eight software tools for consultants cover a variety of day-to-day business activities and cost anywhere from free to $50. A couple of these have subscription options, standard practice in their software category.
GIMP: Enhance your images
[Photo editor] This freely distributed software allows you to do photo retouching, image creation and image conversion. The expandable and extensible software includes painting tools, editable layers, animation management and file handling.
Trello: Make projects and collaboration manageable
[Project management and collaboration] Microsoft Project isn’t included in all versions of Microsoft Office. However, some consultants may not need such feature-rich project management software. Trello is free and uses the Kanban method, which means billboard in Japanese. Kanban is a scheduling system for just-in-time or lean production. Think of Trello as a cork board with a bunch of sticky notes to help you organize and share your projects.
Draw.io: Capture thoughts on epaper
[Diagramming and flowchart] Microsoft Visio is another app that consultants could use, but they may not need its many features. Draw.io provides templates for business processes, engineering, mind maps, network diagrams, software design, Venn diagrams and wireframes. Beware that some diagramming services make their drawings public, but not draw.io. The amount of storage space you get depends on whether you store locally or in the cloud.
Harvest: Track time and get paid
[Invoicing and time tracking] Most online invoicing apps charge a monthly fee. That includes freemium apps. Freemium apps limit the number of clients you can invoice on a free plan. If you want to bill more, you’ll have to upgrade to a subscription. Harvest lets you have four clients and two projects on its free plan. Harvest’s lowest priced plan offers unlimited clients, projects and invoicing. Many competitors tend to have a limit on the number of clients you can invoice on the lowest priced plan.
Snagit: Show what’s on your screen
[Screenshots] Taking a screenshot is one of the easiest, quickest and most effective ways to capture an error, describe a problem or explain how to do something on a website, software, web-based app or anything you can capture on screen. One of our team members is a long-time user and fan of Snagit. The software instantly captures images and videos. You can edit images, make notes, annotate, capture a scrolling web page and save in many file formats including PDF.
TinyScan: Scan docs from anywhere
[Mobile scanner app] Consultants can do a lot with TinyScan as it snaps pictures of documents and converts them into searchable Adobe Acrobat PDF files. After capturing document, consultants can tweak the image’s brightness and contrast for clarity. TinyScan allows you to re-arrange the pages in a single file, email it and password protect it. The app is available for iPhones, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Android phones and works with A4, B5 and letter pages.
Recuva: Rescue lost files
[Restore deleted files] Some people do a great job keeping their computers clean, including the recycling bin. Losing a deleted file for good has happened to the best of us. Fortunately, you can save it — yes, even when deleted from the Recycle Bin or SD card. Recuva can rescue the file for one amazing price of free. It can also save unsaved Word documents.
Akruto: Have your Outlook data with you
[Sync Outlook] Consultants spend a lot of time on client sites and meeting with people away from the office. Because of this, some enter Outlook calendar and contacts twice: once in Outlook PC and again on their mobile devices. Save time and be more productive with Akruto, which is sync software for Windows PC. It lets consultants always have their latest information with them everywhere they go. For no extra charge, Akruto transfers calendar, contacts, tasks and notes to unlimited compatible devices including iPhone, iPad, Surface, Windows Phone, and Android phones and tablets.
What would you add to the list? Tell us in comments.