Best Practice in Technology for Consultants
Because of the work I do, both paid and volunteer, I have interacted with many consultants who supply design and development services in the areas of Employee Communication and Training. The employment source of these consultants has spanned the range from the self-employed independent freelance variety to members of extremely large consulting firms, and they all have something in common… rigidity when it comes to the use of technology.
Regardless of your employment stature, you need to provide your services so they work transparently on and with your client's technology and not just on what you like to use.
If you think you have a better idea, you are wrong. And you are wasting both your valuable time and your client's time.
It's all about using compatible Software, which these days has nothing to do with Hardware.
If you prefer using a Mac versus a PC, no problem. Just don't waste time, yours and your client's, providing deliverables you created with Mac software and trying to make them work transparently with your client's Windows based Software… and this includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Your technology best practice should be to replicate in your Mac or PC a virtual Office environment that mirrors your client’s Office environment, and you do that using Virtual Machine (VM) software.
For a Mac
If in your consulting practice you are using Mac hardware, then I recommend you use a product called Parallels to host your Windows software VM.
For a Windows PC
If you are using Windows PC hardware in your consulting practice, then I recommend you use VirtualBox for your Mac software Virtual Machine.
Of course, to do this requires some extra fees, but they are not outrageous and most of the extra softwares you need are less than $100 each. Here's a rough budget:
VM software - $50 to $80
Operating System - $20 to $50
Microsoft Office - $50 to $99 per version
My personal development system is a Mac because I prefer Mac hardware. On my Mac Operating System I can run both Mac Office 365 and Mac Office 2011. I also have three Virtual Machine partitions setup using Parallels. Currently they are all running Windows 10, though I have in the near past had one running Windows 7. Each Virtual Machine has a unique version of Microsoft Office running. They are respectively: Office 2010, Office 2013, and Office 365.
As a consultant myself, I know that when I deliver a solution to a customer, I can guarantee its compatibility and transparency with their environment.
I can do that with confidence because I developed it in their software environment, which of course might not be the one I prefer but just remember the consultant dictum… “The Client is Always Right!”