Consulting Hacks #21: Use The Tools The Pros Use

Fancy yourself a foodie and a home chef?  Then no doubt a basic kitchen knife from your local grocery will not do.  Especially if you take your cooking skills seriously.  You’ll do your research, ask around and conclude that what you need is what the pros use and love.  Of course, it will set you back nearly $500, but damn, that Korin knife is good.

Not a cook?  Perhaps you spend your weekends jumping out of airplanes (!) or scaling the White Ranch mountain biking trail.  Or maybe you’re just looking for a reliable pick-up truck.  If you’re serious about what you do, you’ll choose the best equipment or tool to make your experience as enjoyable, successful and safe as possible.  You’ll ask those in the know – the professional skydiver, biker or mechanic – what they love and what they use.

We think the same approach – using what experienced pros use – applies to our work, too.  For example, glance over at the web developers across the hall and you’ll notice them using tools to make their work faster and more productive.  They might use Browser Calories to measure page weight or Visual Studio Code, with built-in Git commands and debuggers to simplify coding.  And later, over lunch with a colleague who happens to work for one of the Big 3 or Big 4 business consultancies, they’ll talk about a whole host of applications or software tools that help drive success and deliver value to the client.  (Of course, they might also keep a secret or two, but more on that below!)

Project Management

An enterprise project management system needs features that provide a clear view for all company projects and how they intertwine, and allows for easy project management (including workflow, demand, cost and budget, and resource management features).  We (and the pros too) like: Celoxis, MicroSoft Project and Clarizen.


While Salesforce continues to capture market share, several CRM are finding favor with global consultancies.  Based on usability, customer services offered, Insightly, Pipedrive and CloseIO are moving up the ranks.

Data Visualization

When the pros need to understand the significance of data by placing it in a visual context, they rely on data visualization software.  Sisence, Domo and Periscope are stalwarts with the Big 4 (and a host of enterprise clients as well) due to their usability and customizable platforms.

Social Messaging

Messaging has become the business interface of the future. For millennials and younger, messaging has become the key communication experience. It’s fast, direct, visual, and allows for multiple conversations to happen in parallel. Enter consultant (and enterprise) favorites – Yammer, Slack and WhatsApp.

Digital Client Engagement

The world’s best consultants and Professional Services shops have shifted to digital engagement tools as the new normal in how they scope, deliver transformation and change management projects and

drive deeper client engagement from bid to best practice. Our ThinkTank solutions for client engagement are consultant tested and client approved to overcome many project challenges – misalignment, slow decision making, rework and overruns.  It has steadily become a consultant’s competitive advantage, so don’t be surprised that it’s also one of the pros best kept secrets.

And hey, just to close the loop.  That risk-taking skydiver uses Icarus NZ Canopies.  World Cup champion downhill mountain biker, Rachel Atherton, uses Trek Session 9.9.  And mechanics spend their dollars on Toyota pick-up trucks (described as “bulletproof”).