PSA is Professional Service Automation software that combines various systems like project management, time management, resource management, business intelligence, and invoice processing into one system. PSAs are designed for professional services that help an organization to improve a business result and project performance. It helps every individual in the organization to track the health of the organization, including its consistency, accuracy, and real-time status of the project.
Let us understand clearly about Professional Service Automation.
Let’s first start with several other names of Professional Service Automation software.
- It is termed as PSA platform
- Service Operations Automation
- Professional PSA or Enterprise PSA
- Services Resource Planning (SRP)
- Project service automation
- Professional Service Automation (without the “s”)
- Project-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP Software)
- Project management systems for services firms
- Professional services management software
- Work management software
- And many more.
Professional Service Automation is the base integral operational system for various professional services like resource management, time management, expense, and project management.
PSA software helps organizations consolidate resource management, project management tool, and time management tool into one unit.
The next thing to be understood is what factors to be considered while opting for a PSA tool, which would help an organization to improve business processes.
The factors include:
- In the first place, what is PSA software?
- Why does it need to be implemented?
- For whom PSA platform is helpful?
- When is it implemented?
- Where to host a PSA system and the data and the data to be stored?
- How to select and implement a PSA tool?
- What is PSA software: As Dave Hofferberth defines PSA, he says, “an integrated suite of applications used to improve process efficiency and increase operational visibility in a project- and services-driven organizations.” PSA is a base operating system of an organization. It is a medium between CRM and ERP systems of an organization.
- Origin of Professional Service Automation: Dave Hofferberth, the Managing Director of Service Performance Insight, the first research company, and the first person to invent “Professional Service Automation” in 1990. He was working at the Aberdeen when he was founding about PSA.
- How does Professional Service Automation help in revenue generation? PSA software allows organizations to manage the revenue-generating activities of their delivery team. It includes a wide range of activities, starting from the proper utilization of resources to accurate revenue forecasting.
- PSA software is the system that allows professional services firms to manage the primary revenue-generating activities of their delivery teams. It can range from ensuring cost-effective utilization of allocated resources to accurate revenue forecasting methods. For example:
- Resource managers can dedicate the proper resources needed.
- The finance team can ensure that the organization is earning revenue at the right time.
- The sales team can plan and execute project phases properly.
- The project managers can track the time and expense invested in the project.
- The executives can monitor the health of the organization for profitability projections.
Components of PSA Tools
The best Professional Service Automation software includes a range of features that can be used individually or in a group.
The features could be:
- The resource scheduling features help the managers to dedicate resources to the organization.
- The Project Management feature helps the organization to manage that what and when the project task needs to be done.
- The project accounting feature helps in tracking the expenses incurred.
- The dashboards and the reports feature provides visibility of the organization’ s health to every individual of the team.
Correct professional service management software helps in streamlining the operations in an organization. It could replace the ongoing spreadsheet feature or unmanageable applications that many organizations are still using with an integrated software solution to increase the bottom line result.
WHY SHOULD YOU IMPLEMENT PSA SOFTWARE?
Improve business results and performance
PSA software focuses on the professional services industry. It has various tools and metrics designed to help the services industry. It significantly improves the performance level of the professional services industry. It helps in managing utilization, measuring backlog, incorporating variability into revenue projections, resource management, and various other subtle nuances. You should read customer reviews to find out the benefits experienced by them.
Fast deployment and low implementation cost
You do not have to worry much about money while considering to opt for a Professional Services Automation software. Modern professional services management solutions are pretty inexpensive. There are certain specifically designed products available that require no infrastructure for their implementation. Generally, these tools and software are very user-friendly, easily configurable, and can integrate quite well with various systems.
PSA PLATFORM IS MEANT TO HELP:
Professional Services Automation software is designed for professional services firms, which include management consulting firms, technology implementers, digital marketing companies, and many more. These companies focus on managing client projects and selling valuable and knowledgeable services. A PSA tool can help the company in delivering successful projects.
Internal IT Organizations
These organizations may use a Professional Services Automation software as a central tool for delivery. Companies have now begun to use PSA tools that are flexible and can quickly adapt to their recurring revenue business models. Various businesses which are product-centric use PSA systems to keep track of the finances related to product sales and software licenses.
WHEN SHOULD YOU IMPLEMENT A PSA SOLUTION?
It may seem like a difficult thing to determine the right time to implement professional services automation software. According to some researches, it is advisable to implement a Professional Services Automation tool when any services company reaches a level of around twenty employees. You must implement one when you are preparing for growth. Organizations generally prefer implementing Professional Services Automation tools early to achieve exponential growth. It is an investment worth making if you wish to achieve great heights.
Another important thing that you must keep in mind is to try and find business partners and not software vendors. Remember that deployment of a Professional Services Automation application is not a one-time investment. It is a constant partnership with education, assessment, and evolution. There will always be a lot of changes in the business consistently. Therefore, ensure that your partners and their products can keep up well with you.
WHERE SHOULD YOUR PSA SYSTEM BE HOSTED AND YOUR DATA STORED?
The fundamental delivery model for business applications has been a quite debatable topic in the past. The main concern being should they be deployed on-premise for each organization individually or hosted centrally on the cloud.
However, lately, almost 80% of the users prefer cloud-based systems, but make your choice based on your requirement after thorough consideration. The prime benefits of modern software as a Service (SaaS) include-
- The deployment time is quite fast
- The products are updated continuously
- The cost of ownership is comparatively lower
- Integrations are pretty easy
Although a majority of companies are opting for cloud-based solutions, it may not be the best option for you. Different organizations have different needs. For some of them, security is a major concern. They cannot simply host all the data on the cloud. They may prefer having the data hosted by a vendor in a segregated environment rather than a shared one. Some organizations would like to host information completely on their own server to gate access.
Therefore, to deal with these concerns, top Professional Services Automation vendors provide flexibility, which may not seem necessary at the moment, but it will be useful as the business evolves. The vendors provide security and safety in the cloud-based solutions as well as provide the flexibility of segregated or self-hosted approaches.
HOW TO SELECT AND IMPLEMENT A PSA TOOL?
There are a lot of options available, and so it may be quite confusing to choose the right one. Here are a few things that you must consider while selecting a Professional Services Automation tool.
- Prioritized Goals
Firstly, know what exactly are you implementing a PSA tool. Try and make a list of all your goals and have a phasing strategy. It will help you in simplifying your task of choosing the right one.
- Decision-making process
You must consider asking yourself these questions to reduce the complexity of decision making.
- Would you like to create your own or implement a commercial product?
- Would you like to opt for a SaaS-based hosted application or the licensed on-premise deployment approach?
- What are the pros to your organization around the best of breed products versus suite/platform-based solutions?
- Leverage independent resources
The next step is to consider resources. There are several resources available that would help you to differentiate between the various Professional Services Automation solutions available in the market.
- Test the product
You must always consider testing the product before purchasing it. It will help you determine if the product is useful for you. In the case of modern SaaS-based PSA software solutions, it is quite simple to have a trial run with them. You generally do not have to install any software or sign any contract.
- Find software that will Improve Bottom-line Performance.
Last but not least, always remember to find a software that works towards improving the bottom-line performance of your professional services organization. The vendor should be able to show you how the PSA solution is beneficial for your organization.
Seven PSA Software Benefit
- SERVICES ORGANIZATION SCALABILITY
For improving the efficiency of their administrative and delivery processes, PSA software solutions have originated from the fast-growing services firm. Before PSA came, the data that was required to perform client invoicing, financial reporting, and retrospective analysis was to be dealt across multiple, manually maintained, error-prone spreadsheets.
When the services business grows, the complexity of operation also grows, which includes tracking time and employee expense management, sending out prompt bills, forecasting demands, managing resources, recruiting well-skilled people, on time, and budget project delivery. PSA automates these resource management activities, administrative activities, and delivery while implementing best-practice processes that allow professional services organizations to scale predictably.
- GREATER PREDICTABILITY OF PERFORMANCE
The ability to see early demands, resource booking before the deal is closed, accurately track remaining effort during project delivery, etc., are the valid conditions for the confident forecasts, and the PSA system provides the whole structure to construct a predictable service-business. This improved predictability will help in better decision making on future hiring and identifying the best performing business models while boosting the confidence of your senior leadership and investors.
- HIGHER CUSTOMER SATISFACTION
PSA software works in close collaboration with your customers throughout the life cycle of engagement, consistently working in improving the likelihood of the project being delivered as per the customer demands. During the delivery of the project, the customer feedback takes place in real-time, quickly fixing the issues as they arise.
- IMPROVED RESOURCE UTILIZATION
PSA system consists of resource-management and resource-planning tools which provide services firm a clear picture of the availability and scheduling of their resources across practices, geographies, and skills. Planning tools instruct resource managers lookup for the best suitable project activity to create a most efficient framework resource allocation and resource utilization.
- REDUCED OVERHEADS
PSA works in such a way that it enables a service entity to scale without a corresponding growth in the administrative overhead through automation of previously manual activities such as billing and invoicing, revenue recognition, and reconciliations. Cloud-based solutions eliminate the need for dedicated in-house servers and database software by also reducing the related costs of in-house IT maintenance and support.
- IMPROVE YOUR PROJECT PROFITABILITY
PSA gives you a clear vision of the current and predicted project profitability, giving service organizations all the apt information they require to take timely actions on projects going over budget.
- WORKING CAPITALEFFICIENCY THROUGH TIMELY, ACCURATE BILLING
PSA improves the cash flow through the automation of the invoicing process, providing benefits like billing accuracy, which helps to reduce the likelihood of customer disputes. Automation will provide timelier billing.
Four Keys to PSA Implementation Success
- TYPICAL ORGANIZATION PROFILE
Home-grown systems and spreadsheets fail in supporting the complexity of handling multiple people across multiple projects. While professional services companies and embedded service firms exist in many forms, the most common industries using PSA systems are management consulting firms, IT services, advertising, media and marketing agencies, etc.
- PROCESS OF IMPLEMENTATION
A successful implementation process requires an input of key stakeholders to know and understand organizational needs, which, when combined with the experience of the vendor and best-practice know-how, defines the configuration of the PSA software to be deployed. And after these requirements get approved and documented, the implementation proceeds through various project phases, such as modeling, testing, training, interface set-up, data cutover, and go-live support.
PSA solution users are likely to be growing through a more well framed and well-formalized way of working. At this stage, users are trained on the new system, frequent reminders, and associated new procedures, and a clear explanation of the benefits of the solution are required for sales, project resources, and management.
PSA solutions implementation involves integration with an organization’s other applications, most commonly customer relationship management, ERP software, financial management, and human resources systems.
Six-Step Evaluation Process
The first step is identifying the core improvements required now and predicted future needs. Build up an evaluation team that must include executive sponsorship, process, and technology subject matter experts and end-user representatives.
- REQUIREMENTS DEFINITION
The second step includes a description of key processes to be automated expected integration points with existing systems, budget and high-level timescales, and roll-out strategy.
Review industry research reports such as SPI, PSA Buyer’s Guide, user review sites such as G2 Crowd, case studies for similar organizations, technical architecture, vendor websites, and try to figure out how candidate solutions are upgraded and maintained.
Try to figure out vendor background, track record, assessment of ability to address key requirements identified in the business plan, and then develop a request for information for shortlisting the vendors.
The next step comprises of meeting with the shortlisted potential vendors to discuss and understand how their solution would handle the client’s needs.
- DECISION MAKING
Request references for the proposed implementation team and then conduct a review of contracts, final pricing, and the implementation services proposal.