Professional services automation (PSA) software is generally used to help companies in professional service industries manage client projects and resources. These solutions provide an effective way for users such as auditors, contract reviewers, account managers or lawyers to streamline project operations. PSA solutions can enhance visibility into highly complex projects and are a specialized alternative to common and general project management or resource planning (ERP) solutions. As such, PSA software can come equipped features like billing and invoicing, resource allocation, expense management, labor allocation, or time tracking. Read the full software guide...
Professional services automation (PSA) software is often utilized in significantly regulated industries and legal environments. The primary goal of these solutions is to streamline and reduce the burden of processes for users such as contract reviewers, testers, auditors, and attorneys or solicitors. These processes can usually include service delivery, administration, and new business generation.
In particular, PSA solutions enable users to generate workflows and enhance the testing or reviewing of operations. To achieve these outcomes, PSA solutions can offer a variety of features including project management, time management, resource management, document management, sales management, financial accounting, and billing and invoicing. Through these features, users can benefit from enhanced visibility over their projects.
Furthermore, many PSA solutions are tailored towards the needs of specific business verticals and processes, such as financial auditing, IT services, or consulting to name a few. These specialized solutions can be very useful as they generally provide a range of industry-specific capabilities, therefore, it is certainly worth considering how beneficial a desired solution will be for your business’ unique needs. Additionally, considering that PSA solutions can be used for such a large amount of business processes, it is crucial that users opt for a solution that will easily integrate with their existing software stack.
PSA systems may vary in functionality, scope and implementation. With that said, there are three main categories of professional services automation (PSA) solution: all-in-one (AIO) PSA, industry-specific PSA and best-of-breed PSA.
As the name suggests, all-in-one or AIO professional services automation software provides users with a comprehensive feature set and capabilities required to effectively manage professional services firms and organizations. An AIO PSA solution allows for proper project accounting, portfolio and project management, sales and marketing, sometimes even customer relationship management (CRM), HR and payroll management.
All the features and capabilities mentioned above are provided as a fully integrated system or as a business process suite of multiple software solutions that any service business or professional services company may acquire separately if they choose to do so.
The majority of PSA systems in the market can actually be utilized by any professional services firms across different sectors and industries. However, there are service providers and vendors that provide a more specialized PSA solution in one or perhaps a small number of niche sectors. For example, an agency management solution serves the needs of small PR firms, marketing and advertising agencies, marketing teams and departments, as well as large PR and marketing companies.
Now, a solution like agency management software is not just equipped with robust PSA features and capabilities. This type of software, while fully capable of serving as professional services automation software, also has the ability to provide specialized functionality and tools tailored for marketing, including content management and online proofing.
This category of PSA systems are mostly focused on portfolio and project management, as well as other closely related services operations and features like resource management. Although best-of-breed PSA platforms may provide functionality for customer relationship management (CRM), marketing and billing, such features are often limited to the point where professional services firms will require integration with third-party systems to handle their more advanced and complicated needs.
Service providers and vendors of this type of PSA solution generally work with one or more solutions providers in order to deliver a more robust and seamless integration with their project accounting software and CRM tools.
Professional services automation software may also be categorized based on how it is deployed or implemented within an organization like professional services firms. There are two main deployment methods to choose from: on-premise and cloud- or web-based deployment. Both software deployment strategies have their own advantages and disadvantages, which may or may not apply to your specific situation.
On-premise deployment refers to software that is deployed on the local servers of a company. This means the software is installed in a local network or in local terminals managed and maintained by the organization’s in-house team. A premise-based PSA solution offers more control and customization, but it often carries a hefty upfront cost and may even require additional licensing fees and in some cases additional hardware.
Cloud-based deployment, on the other hand, refers to software solutions and tools delivered as a service, over the internet. In recent years, web-based software solutions, including PSA systems, have grown in popularity among small businesses, independent contractors and professional services firms, because of the cost-efficiency and practicality they provide.
The service follows a subscription-based model where businesses have the choice among two or more pricing plans, to be paid on a monthly or annual basis. One of the main advantages of cloud-based PSA software is that users will only be required to pay for services and features they actually use, since pricing plans are often tailored to fit the varying needs of professional services firms and agencies.
Choosing the right PSA solution involves research and proper evaluation of the different products available in the market. When you’re making a few comparisons of various PSA systems, there are a number of trends you need to consider.
Employee turnover cost is a crucial factor when you’re trying to improve your services operations’ profit margins. However, as beneficial as it is to your business, it can be difficult to quantify. Most professional services firms today are more interested in investing in a PSA solution that can provide them with the ability to take into account the employee or employees’ level of interest when assigning new projects to them. This can help ensure proper motivation.
Interest-based resource utilization is a good strategy that enables you to match the right employee, based on their interests, to the right project. A good professional services automation software solution lets you keep track of utilization rates and personnel interests, so you will be able to assign the best performers in your organization to projects they’re most eager to work on.
Well-established professional services firms understand the important role of collaboration to the successful completion of any project. They also appreciate the significance of utilizing PSA systems when working collaboratively with clients. Providing clients direct access to information, such as vendor schedules for instance, will allow them to view project timelines, invoices and other important details about the project.
With the information, clients can then review expense reports and approve invoices in real time, remotely. A PSA solution with this kind of capability can provide sales opportunities and help increase customer retention.
Professional services automation (PSA) software with integrated project accounting and management features help unify, otherwise, disparate systems. This can help enhance time management and minimize errors. When you integrate project management and accounting solutions to for a unified platform, you’re effectively removing uninformed decisions from your day-to-day services operations, while at the same time improving data organization and accessibility.
Having a single unified PSA solution enables management, as well as stakeholders and decision makers, to get a better view of the project in real time. This should have a positive effect on the company’s ability to respond to potential hurdles appropriately.
Professional services automation software is not only capable of providing you with all the tools you need to effectively track and measure key performance indicators (KPIs) for your organization, it is also equipped with business intelligence (BI) technology to help you gather valuable insights, so you can allocate resources more efficiently and have higher resource utilization rates. This should also help increase your services operations’ profitability and minimize operational costs.
Another benefit you might experience from using a PSA solution is improved predictability. Advanced business intelligence will not only provide analytics and reporting capabilities, it can also help your team predict possible project outcomes, like when they will be finished and delivered to customers, accounting of course the availability of resources.
When using PSA systems, you may experience diminishing administrative tasks. You have to keep in mind that professional services automation (PSA) software is designed to identify work-intensive, time-consuming and error-prone processes, while also reducing unnecessary data entry points. The solution works by automating key processes like project scheduling and planning, workflow management, as well as time and expenses reporting.
Before long, you should be able to notice just how much time you’re actually saving when you or your team are not spending most of your day running unnecessary data entries, going through project accounting, making reports and doing other administrative tasks.
|API||Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are programmatic intersections with external products or platforms that allow for custom integrations with your own solutions or other solutions you are using.|
|Billing/Invoicing||Issue bills and invoices to customers, often combined with tracking capabilities for outstanding payments.|
|Budgeting||Planning and tracking capabilities for financial budgets and plans often used to manage funds across different departments or for investor / shareholder oversight.|
|Data Export||Exporting functionality can be used to streamline the migration of data sets and information across systems, platforms or applications.|
|Data Import||Importing functionality allows you to use data sets from other systems or platforms to cut down on data entry requirements or to more easily migrate records from similar applications you have used in the past.|
|Expense Tracking||Track employee travel and other expenses to stay on top of budgeting requirements and reimbursements.|
|External Integrations||Integrations with other software products or platforms to improve efficiency and compatibility across systems.|
|Forecasting||Forecast upcoming expenses, sales, revenue, user levels, etc. through the use of predictive methods and past data.|
|Inventory Tracking||Stay on top of inventory levels, to manage the storing, reordering or production of stock items.|
|Multi-User||Supports more than just one user account and generally allows for collaboration with colleagues.|
|Notifications||Includes notification support and sends you alerts with information on important events and other time sensitive instances. For example through push notifications on mobile phones or email notifications.|
|Project Management||Manage projects from conception through the planning stage to delivery and post-project reporting phases. This allows organisation teams to organise resources, plan budgets and improve efficiency in the delivery of project objectives.|
|Resource Management||Manage company's internal and external resources efficiently.|
|Scheduling||Schedule tasks, resources, appointments, payments, communications, etc.|
|Task Scheduling/Tracking||Schedule and track tasks and deliverables in form of to-do-lists.|
|Time Management||Monitor and optimize how you're spending your time.|
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