More threads by Eric Rohrback

Eric Rohrback

Oct 3, 2012
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This topic has been brought up in a few threads around the forum, but was usually limited to specific pieces of software. I wanted to ask an open ended question for anyone to chime in. What types of software are consultants currently using to manage their business and their clients? Do you use Excel or are you using something in the cloud? Which packages are you purchasing and what features do you need in your business?

I think PM will make or break a business, so I'm curious what others are using to manage their workflow.
Hi Eric,

At Powered By Search, we use Teamwork for our main project management tool. This is used for both internal and external (client) communication. It allows you to create projects and than create milestones and tasks associated with each one. It also has some cool features such as a gantt chart creator that allows you to easily create a communicate your plans for a quarter, full year, or whatever you want.

We use Slack for 90% of our internal communication. I LOVE slack. It has cut my internal e-mail down in a HUGE way.

We also use G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work) to document all our systems and processes, reports, scheduling meetings...etc
I am but a mere grasshopper compared to many on this forum. However, I will share the constantly-evolving list of tools that I use for my small firm:

  • Google Apps (aka Google Suite now?) for email, calendars, etc
  • SolveCRM for contact management - integrates sort of well with Google Apps but I'm looking for a better solution
  • Wave Apps for accounting - buyer beware, while it's "free" it's clunky and has fairly limited features so if you had a big firm you'd want something better. I'm a CPA and a former software engineering manager so I can manage with it.
  • Freedcamp for project management. It's essentially a list manager with kanban abilities similar to Trello and others but it also has the ability to create consolidated views of tasks and assignments across multiple projects, which Trello cannot do. It's "free" for most purposes but there are modestly-priced extensions that add additional features. Freedcamp is gradually replacing a collage of other products I used before including Trello, SmartSheets, and Excel spreadsheets.
I love hearing about what other people use, because I need a better system. I have roughly 30 local SEO clients, most on 6 month contracts. The tricky thing, for me as the owner is to keep track of where every client stands during the month (have we done any work, how is the End of month report coming, etc.)

I have two employees, and we can usually keep track of everything with our own Google spreadsheet, but, I feel it could be better.

I tried Teamwork, but, I felt that the way we used it, I couldn't get a good top down view of where all of our 30 clients stood a particular place in time.

I would love to hear what other people use. . . I think that for my company, having a better process here would improve our ability to scale up, or at least, improve my confidence that we could! (then, the next problem would be simply getting more clients!)
I think we have tried everything on the market for PM. Basecamp, Teamwork, Asana, Podio, 10000ft. One of these days I'll get around to writing a detailed blog on what worked and what didn't.

Now we use a combination of Google Sites & Google Sheets. The ability to link between multiple Google sheets is extremely powerful. We have:
  1. A master sheet that lists all clients, their plan, their PM, start date & billings
  2. A sheet for each PM that shows only their clients
  3. PM bonus sheets that allows employees to see their estimated quarterly bonus based on client load
  4. Google site that operates as an internal wiki, with pages for each client

By far the systems that we rely on the most are:
1password (shared secure password system is a game-changer)

I'm still not in love with what we have, but it works if you have good people and take care of them.

Thanks for sharing. I think you hit on something important - the notes about each client and how to keep them near. I'm always coming up with an idea for a client and then trying to figure out how to remind myself about it. This happens a lot at the month end, when we are completing reports, and I will realize 'oh man, they could totally use a new page about xyz'.

So, you are just creating a google site, with a page for each client?
We actually have built a client Dashboard for each project that includes two To-do lists, one for us and one for the client.

We then have a calendar where certain days are set for specific tasks. For example, the first tuesday of the month is Speed Test day. Each PM is responsible for doing speed checks across each client site and logging any items in the "To Do" list for that project. This way we don't get bogged down in execution and are sure each client gets attention each month. Our PM's then get the open days to start working down the To Do lists that they have. It's the best way we have found to keep people on task as SEO can send you down a lot of rabbit holes.

I think any to-do list system would work as long as it's visible to both you and the client, we just have other items we like to show clients in our dashboard that we had to build our own thing into the sites we build.

For Google sites, we just created a single site. Whenever we add a new client they get their own page. This is used for listing things like where their site is hosted, where DNS is located, notes on special systems they use...anything unique that we learn in our onboarding process. It isn't used for any ongoing PM, but it could easily be re-purposed for something like what we built above.

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