Tools for Running an iOS Consulting Studio

Learn about some tried and tested tools, apps and web sites to take the business side of your iOS consulting to the next level. By .

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Management responsibilities are a sharp departure from the technical skills that make developers successful in the first place. However, growing into a larger organization doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Everything you need to organize and maintain a successful team is just a few mouse clicks away.

I’ve gathered a great list of tools and services that I’ve found essential while running Mac and iOS development companies for over a decade. Hopefully you’ll find one or more things in this list to help solve your own organization’s growing pains!

Full disclosure: My employer (MartianCraft) has an interest in Briefs, Resolve, Propane, and Slender. We often create tools that fill a need we have in day to day operations.

Design and Polish

To put it simply, design is critical. If you aren’t making beautiful software you won’t captivate your users, clients, coworkers or peers.

When you’re a one-person shop, it’s easy to manage the design phase by yourself. However, when you need to collaborate and share ideas with two, five, or dozens of stakeholders, the process becomes a tad more complicated.

Here are my picks for some of the best communication tools for your organization:


InVision is a free web app where you can post, solicit feedback on, and track changes to your designs.

Real-time sharing and presentation

Real-time sharing and presentation

In essence, it’s a bug tracker that supports images and other mockups in various file formats. Invision provides the ability to create a clickable map from your art assets that you can use to demo the flow through your app.

Clients will find the InVision site easy to use without much hand-holding, and they’ll undoubtedly appreciate the opportunity to be involved in the early stages of the design process.


LayerVault provides version control for your PSDs and other popular design formats. You can store an unlimited number of revisions online and sync them directly to your computer á la Dropbox to give you the seamless workflow you need.

Smart versioning for design files

Smart versioning for design files

LayerVault includes support for resolvable conversations tagged to a change as well as release notes on new updates. If you have more than one designer editing a PSD (and you know all too well the issues that can cause!), then LayerVault will be an invaluable tool in your arsenal.


With Briefs you can professional quality prototypes from mockups and wireframes, share them with your team and easily deploy them to iOS and Android devices as in-hand demos.


Briefs is great for rapid prototyping, and clients get the chance to to experience the interaction and flow of the app — even before development kicks off.


OmniGraffle is one of the best tools out there for quickly assembling wireframes. There are templates for iOS apps and icons, and you can add your own stencils to customize your designs.

Stencils Customisation

I know that there are a lot of other less-expensive and free solutions for wireframing, but OmniGraffle keeps returning to my workflow. As a general-purpose diagramming tool, OmniGraffle is also great for sketches, flow charts and illustrations. The free OmniPresence sync solution can also help you keep track of OmniGraffle documents across devices (Mac and iPad) and teammates.


Slender analyzes the image usage of iOS and Mac apps. Not only can it reduce the size of a finished app, but it can also point out other image and code issues that might result in blurry or incorrect user interfaces.


Slender’s value becomes apparent each time Apple introduces new resolutions and screen sizes to iOS devices.


If you need to quickly measure, compare, align, and inspect design elements in your apps, xScope is your tool.


It’s a breeze to compare your final product to the original design mockups, helping you make sure that your clients and end-users get exactly what they were promised.

Reveal App

Debugging and troubleshooting layout issues in your iOS apps can be a real pain. Reveal produces three-dimensional representations of every layer in your interface for you to inspect.

Reveal app

SparkInspector remains a slightly cheaper, but comparable, solution.


Keep your communications technology up to date with your developer technology. Photo credit: hux

Old phone

It’s become difficult to find talented people in local markets and the pool of available talent is shrinking every day. The solution? Create a virtualized company out of remote employees.

Remote companies are increasingly common in today’s business environment, and especially so in the mobile consulting world. Effective communication is what makes or breaks a company — doubly so for a remote company. You need to manage all aspects of communication in your organization with your employees, teams, managers, clients and especially your users.

Without established communications, your company won’t even have a chance to get off the ground. Fortunately, I’ve done a bit of digging for you and have found the tools below to be of great value to stay connected with everyone in your organization.


Every company needs a one-to-one communication tool to encourage dialogue outside of email. You can use Skype, AIM, Gtalk, Yahoo Messenger, Jabber or any of the other great chat platforms out there to let people communicate in real time.

Adium, an open source chat client, takes care of the headaches of cross-platform chat and works with most major chat platforms, with the exception of Skype. Say your team is standardized on AIM but your client prefers Gtalk – Adium supports both and lets you keep your communication in one app.


A lot of things can get lost in “electronic translation”: emails, chats, and even phone calls don’t always convey the true intent of a message. If your company is working remotely, consider using video conferencing systems such as Facetime on a regular basis.

For large groups of people, GotoMeeting and Google Hangouts are useful tools for communicating via voice and video.


Direct communication using chat platforms and Facetime is great, but it doesn’t simulate the typical office dynamic for distributed teams. 37Signals provides Campfire as a solution to that issue, providing a “lobby” and “room” metaphor to your chat rooms. You can chat, share files, and there’s even a conference call dial-in option.

Propane is a companion app to Campfire that provides an desktop native solution over the default website. Flint also provides Mac and iOS clients for Campfire.