Consultant Toolbox

Here you'll find a variety of valuable tools to maximize your impact as a consultant.

 

Trello

Trello is one of the best productivity and tracking tools on the market.  Even better is that it is free to use.  At Abido, we use Trello to track and assign all of the tasks we need to complete on a weekly basis.  Using a tool like Trello allows us to make sure we are focused on the most important tasks and increases our productivity.

 

Trello will form the backbone of your consulting projects.  By combining Trello and basic Agile methodology, you will be able to:

  1. Scope your project

  2. Prioritize your tasks

  3. Track your progress

  4. Provide transparency to your organization

 

To get started, set up your Trello board to look like this:

The strategy here is to list out all of your tasks in order of priority in the “To Do” column.  Start your project by tackling the first task in your “To Do” column.  While you are completing this task, move the card to the “Doing” column.  When you are done, move the card to the “Done” column.  You want to make sure that your “Doing” column never has more than 2-3 tasks.  Doing this helps you do a number of things:

  1. Establish scope - Writing out all of things you will need to do to complete build will give you a better idea how much work will really be involved to achieve your organization’s goals.

  2. Estimating build hours - You know how quickly you can complete individual tasks.  Listing them all out like this will allow you to easily add up all of the time it will take you to complete an entire project.  An accurate build estimate makes sure you get paid for all of the work you do.

  3. Transparency - Sharing your Trello board with your organization will ensure that both you and the organization are on the same page.  Organizations will not wonder where you are with a project and you won’t have to stop what you are doing to provide project updates nearly as often.

  4. Efficiency - Knowing exactly what you have to do will eliminate any wasted time deciding what your next task should be.  Focusing on one task at a time will allow you to finish tasks faster, decreasing overall project turnaround time.

 

The key to success is to be very detailed with your task list.  Literally everything you are going to have to do to complete a project should be listed on your board.  All of your project time should be accounted for on your Trello board.  Below is an example of a Willow build project:

You can play with some of the other features of Trello like Checklists, Labels, Members, and Due Dates to increase productivity and transparency.  Trello can also integrate with Slack or Google Drive if those are tools supported by your organization.

 

Of all the tools in your toolbox, Trello forms the foundation.

 

Statement of Work:

 

The Statement of Work (SOW) is a mandatory document in the consulting field.  This document defines the contract, and is referenced if there is ever a dispute between the consultant and the organization.  The purpose of the SOW is to define the deliverables for the consultant as well as the resources the organization agrees to provide for the duration of the contract.  The SOW also defines the length and the cost of the contract.

 

Abido provides consultants an SOW template to use.  This SOW defines the categories that consultants should be sure to cover with their organizations, as well as help text that explains more about the purpose of each section.  When composing your SOW, be sure to delete the red text and replace it with the particulars of the project.

 

While it is not mandatory to use Abido’s SOW form, it is highly encouraged to use some form of an SOW for each project.

 

You can download a Word document version of the SOW here.

 

Calendly

 

This free tool is less of a necessity but is certainly nice to have.  The Abido staff uses it to manage all meetings and conference calls.  Calendly offers an easy way for people to schedule a meeting with you.  It completely eliminates the awkward back and forth calls and emails trying to find a time that works for both of you.

 

Calendly integrates with your Outlook or Google calendar, and will only allow people to schedule a meeting with you when you are available.  You can also customize availability with options like buffers between meetings and defined availability times.  If you don’t want to meet with anyone beyond 5 pm or on the weekend, you don’t have to.  Calendly also integrates with meeting tools like GoToMeeting and Google Meeting to autogenerate a link every time someone schedules a meeting with you.  

 
 
 

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