Smart Automation Tools for Engineering Consultants

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Engineering consultancy combines expert services with active communication. It is focused on assisting clients with technical expertise and knowledge in specific fields. Areas of expertise of engineering consultants can vary from IT, civil engineering, automotive industry, and other large sectors through transport, defense and space to niche areas.

Automation in team, workflow and project management, being an essential part of any efficient business process, is not the only prerequisite for work management tools for engineering consultants. Software solutions designed to streamline work processes also should provide an easy way to work with large files and complex documentation, be focused on automation of professional services, enable active communication with clients, and keep detailed records of billable time. Here’s our list of helpful software tools for engineering consultancies.

CAD tools

Engineering consultancy companies and self-employed consultants who provide technical solutions to their clients need to pay special attention to the tool they are using for creating technical drawings, plans, models, etc. A CAD system, besides being functional and affordable, should comply with accepted engineering practices, support popular file formats, and enable export for file processing in other tools.

1. AutoCAD-LT

A 2D CAD tool by the leading developer for engineers, architects, construction specialists, and designers. It allows to prepare 2D drawings, plans, schemes etc. and works on any device: with its web and mobile apps, it is accessible from anywhere. Its intuitive interfaces allow users to work quickly and deliver the result sooner.

2. DraftSight

A 2D drafting and 3D modeling tool that suits both experienced professionals and beginners. Its newest version is developed with focus on speed, efficiency, and intuitive workflow. In this tool, you can easily go from 2D drafting to 3D design and back for a more detailed and efficient modeling process. It integrates with various solutions, which allows to manage your 2D or 3D designs.

3. Revit

Another solution by Autodesk for building information modelling (BIM) that helps prepare consistent and coordinated plans and designs. This tool suits for bureaus that focus their work not only around consultancy, but also prepare detailed projects with comprehensive visual documentation. For a more streamlined workflow, Revit can be integrated with other tools and services to connect various teams’ work.

4. FreeCAD

As the name of this solution suggests, it is completely free and suits for small teams and individual engineering consultants that need to create, edit or process 3D models of real-life objects. Easy switching between 2D plans and 3D models ensures detailed and comprehensive design process. Support for many file formats allows to use work results in other tools and integrate FreeCAD into your workflow.

File sharing & document management tools

File sharing tools for engineering consultants need to meet special requirements. The most important of them is fast and easy work with large files: data sent and shared with this software in engineering consultancy mostly comprises drawings, plans, 3D models, etc. Another essential requirement is security of data sharing and transfer: unauthorized access to it would mean compromising customers’ data.

1. Binfer

Binfer is a file sharing service that never stores the shared files. This technology ensures better performance and security. With it, you don’t need to spend time on uploading and downloading files, which, as the developers claim, speeds up file sharing process by 50% and allows to send larger files. A secured transfer process ensures safety and integrity of your files. As files are never uploaded to storage servers, there’s no risk of unauthorized access to them.

2. Egnyte

A secure content platform with a file sharing function that allows to send, receive and collaborate on files of any size, on any device, regardless of location and bandwidth. It protects the data and allows to stay compliant with data regulations. Egnyte offers various integration options so that you can seamlessly build file management process into your workflow.

3. FileCloud

This solution is available as SaaS and as an on-premise service: you can choose what works best for you, depending on where the data should reside according to your company’s data safety policies and regulations. The tool can be integrated with existing file servers and connected to network shares, which simplifies its incorporation into the existing IT infrastructure.

Project management & PSA tools

Automating operations and streamlining workflows is one of the crucial steps to creating an efficient work process. In engineering consulting where you work with many clients, a good project management or professional services automation (PSA) tool is a time-saver for managers. It helps stay on track, be always informed on the team’s progress, and efficiently tackle work tasks.

1. Easy Projects

Easy Projects is a comprehensive project management and PSA solution that helps engineering consulting professionals manage their work for multiple customers. It allows to manage complex projects, schedule work phases, allocate resources, analyze profits of specific projects, and get vital data on work process and its progress.

2. Harmony

Harmony offers a visual way to manage your projects. It stores all your project-related data centrally and allows to visualize them on charts, schedules, and boards. The tool helps manage the entire process, from tracking opportunities to managing revenue and expenses. It automates services, takes the pain out of routine operations, and allows you to follow modern project management methodologies in your daily practice.

3. Forecast

A platform for managing operations and automating project and team management activities. It features work process management, scheduling, collaboration, reporting, and other indispensable work management functions. With it, you can focus on the actual work, deliver better quality, and ensure clients’ satisfaction.

Proposal & quoting tools

Professional-looking proposals and quotes are important for businesses of any size, particularly for small consulting bureaus and independent professionals at the beginning of their career path. A professional proposal adds clarity to the communication with your clients and eliminates the hassle related to managing too many documents. That’s why implementing a special quoting tool in your workflow is worth considering.

1. Practice Ignition

This service allows you to create custom proposals and quotes for your prospective clients in just a few clicks. It not only saves team’s time spent on preparing clear documentation, but also reduces time to engage clients and collect payments on time. The service supports digital signatures, which means less document management and more time for your work.

2. Proposify

Proposify service allows you to create all sales documents possible – proposals, quotes, contracts and more – quickly and easily. It automates the sales process, keeps all data organized, and streamlines the proposal tracking process. The tool can be helpful for dedicated sales professionals and for self-employed specialists who combine several business roles.

Accounting tools

Accounting can be a tedious and challenging process, especially for non-accountants, which is the case of most independent engineering consultants. However, special accounting tools created for non-accountants can help here. They take the pain out of keeping accurate records and managing documents, save time, and ensure compliance with tax requirements.

1. Freshbooks

One of the most popular solutions for small businesses and self-employed professionals. It helps keep records of billable time, create invoices, manage expenses, and run accurate reports to ensure compliance. It also allows your clients to pay directly through the issued invoices and automatically records each payment in the system. This way, it helps maintain accurate records with significantly less effort.

2. Wave

This product for small businesses ensures an easy way to track your revenue and expenses, create professional invoices, and keep all expense details in one place by scanning and uploading receipts. It helps you manage cash flow and eliminates the stress from bookkeeping and interacting with tax authorities.

3. Xero

Xero is an online tool for accounting and invoicing. It offers an easy and visual way to review and manage your cash flow – anywhere, on any device. Its online invoicing feature helps you get paid faster: prepare and send invoices to your customers, and get notified when they are opened. Mobile apps allow to manage your finance on the go: in them, you can capture expenses, reconcile bank transactions, send invoices, and more.

Timekeeping tools

Tracking time spent on work is an easy and consistent way to collect vital business data. Knowing where your time goes is necessary for creating perfect workflows, eliminating time-wasting activities, and becoming more productive. Timekeeping tools help teams and individuals reclaim high performance and stay efficient at work.

1. actiTIME

actiTIME is a time-tracking and work management solution that features an easy timekeeping process and helps get the most value out of the collected data. It supports both manual and timer entry (which is available in the mobile app), allows to record work time and absences, and provides managers and business owners with valuable data. With it, you can maintain accurate records of your billable time, analyze productivity, and understand profitability of your work.

2. Todo.vu

Todo.vu is an integrated CRM, project management and timekeeping solution that works for freelancers, independent consultants, and businesses. It helps track time spent on various tasks, keeps clients’ details, supports checklists, and syncs with calendars to avoid double data entry. You can use it in combination with any other project management tool or as a standalone solution.

3. Clockify

This simple time-tracker is a free solution developed for individuals and small teams. It offers the ability to enter work time and categorize it by projects, review timekeeping data in simple reports, and calculate billable hours for specific periods. Its mobile apps help track time and review the results on the go.

Did we mention your favorite tool here? If not, share it with us at productivity@actitime.com!