Collaboration and Time Tracking in One App
Whether you’re a small boutique or large multi-national consulting firm, it’s increasingly important to collaborate in real-time with both colleagues and clients, either co-located or distributed. The consultancy should feel like an extension of the team, instead of the client feeling like they’re throwing things over the wall. For both on-site and remote consultants, this is a challenge, especially when working with distributed client teams, which is now typically the rule rather than the exception.
The consultancy and the client also need to be in synch when budgeting engagement costs. Both need to anticipate and track planned deliverable costs and billable hours as the engagement progresses.
Along with the rest of the world, consulting firms are transitioning to a more agile mindset. They need to be adaptable to ever-changing client requests and needs. Instead of stagnating and upholding the status quo, they’re also adopting the concept of continuous improvement.
Favro is designed to help with all these evolving consulting firm requirements in a single app. Real-time collaboration with colleagues and clients, modern time reporting, along with the metrics and workflow visualizations to drive continuous improvement, are all supported.
When using Favro, clients can be invited into consultancy organizations, and consultants can be invited into client organizations. This can be done with either guests or external members. External members can do anything that a regular member can do except see organization-wide collections unless they’re explicitly invited. External guests are much more limited in their capabilities; by default, they can only add, edit, and move cards on existing boards and lists. Collection owners can further limit guests to the point where they’re only able to view information. A full breakdown of working with external members and external guests can be found here.
For each new client create a collection and based on the level of collaboration you’d like to have with them, invite them as either external members or external guests.
Once you have set up an online collaboration with your clients, it’s time to agree on projects, deliverables, and costs. The best way to handle this in Favro is with backlogs (lists) and custom fields. Within each client specific collection, create a new backlog. Working with the client, fill the backlog with a prioritized list of projects and deliverables.
Add custom fields for Billable rate, planned hours, and actual hours. The details on how to do this are explained in this article. Once the custom fields are set up (you’ll only need to do this once), agree with the client on billable rate and planned hours for each backlog item.
Now that everyone is in sync with what needs to be delivered and the costs involved, it’s time to start getting it done. The best approach for completing deliverables and project tasks is with a Favro Kanban board. Each consultant-client relationship can have its own custom workflow, allowing everyone involved to collaborate on work in progress.
Within each client collection, create a Kanban board with your custom workflow, including agreed upon stages to move deliverables and tasks from start to finish.
In priority order, client backlog items are pulled onto the Kanban board. When consultant team members are ready, they pull the work — left to right — through each column of the board until cards are completed.
While client deliverables are in progress, hours are updated in the Actual hours field. This method is more straightforward for the client who most likely doesn’t care about a task by task breakdown. They’ll see a clear increasing roll-up of hours per deliverable as the cards track towards completion. Entering actual hours on the same cards representing the deliverables in a single app is also faster and more appealing to today’s consultants who don’t want to feel like they’re punching a time clock and doing timesheet entry.
The process is the same for all clients, each in their own collection, allowing both consultants and client contacts to collaborate in real-time. The card itself becomes the single repository for all communications, attachments, hour updates, and deliverable content. This is done on the card pop up with full collaborative editing capabilities, comments, custom fields, and attachments.
With client work being completed by individual consultants or teams of consultants in each collection, Partners and Managers will want to see a big picture overview from a single screen. This is done with dashboard collections, which are an aggregation of existing client backlogs and boards from existing collections. The simplest way to build a Partner dashboard is with the Dashboard wizard. Create a new collection and select “Build dashboard collection”. The wizard will walk you through pulling live client backlogs and boards from other collections, creating a single screen, real-time view of everything that’s happening with all clients.
In the spirit of Agile, each consultancy team should be striving for continuous improvement. Favro facilitates this with live flow-based metrics: Time on board (lead time) — how long it takes to complete a deliverable and Time in column (cycle time) — how long each stage takes per deliverable. These metrics are automatically tracked as soon as client backlog items are committed to a Kanban board. To see them click the board menu (…) and select Show -> Time on board and Time in column.
These valuable metrics will now be shown directly on each card. The goal is to shorten both the time on board and the time in column, delivering value faster to the client. To see these metrics, hopefully improving over time, click the board menu (…) and select Charts -> Control chart. Over a selected date range, you’ll be able to see the average lead time, daily lead time, and a cycle time breakdown for every client deliverable.
We’ve touched on only a few of the many capabilities that Favro can offer the modern consulting firm. For client collaboration, time tracking, project delivery, overview, and continuous improvement, Favro is a one-stop shop. It’s a single app to bring clients closer to the process, enable real-time collaboration, track hours, receive faster feedback, and build better relationships.
Try Favro today and see how it can help your consulting firm thrive.