What is professional services automation (PSA)? Definition
Professional services automation (PSA) is a type of software that offers a service provider with a wide variety of features for key processes. PSA software is capable of introducing essential business automation for professional services organizations, such as law firms and accounting partnerships.
The main objective of PSA tools is to ensure the information flow in the organization while automating and improving its processes. In other words, professional services automation helps companies manage all their operations.
While PSA is suitable for any type of business, it is especially popular among IT companies, marketers, lawyers and other providers of specialized services. That is because its principles apply to all the organizations that need to complete dozens of projects at once and need to manage specialists and their knowledge efficiently.
PSA: must-have features
In general, PSA features include:
- project management (or project portfolio management),
- resource management,
- company-wide communication,
- accounting and budgeting,
- integrations with other software,
- time tracking,
- business intelligence.
The features may vary depending on the tool chosen for the job.
As you can see from the list above, professional services automation aims to provide businesses with a wide range of solutions improving and adjusting their processes in a digital environment.
However, the significance of PSA may be slightly greater for some players on the market.
For example, IT companies, as well as any other companies that profit from their employees’ time and skills, are inclined to use professional services automation as it allows them to manage their processes better and improve their financial performance. In other words, we can say that PSA is an ERP for service businesses looking to conjoin all the elements of such business.
What can you do with professional services automation?
In general, a good professional service automation provides users with a variety of features capable of improving internal processes in the company. In most of the cases, the options can help you with:
- managing existing and prospective customers and their information,
- combining different tools into a single source of information for all the managers,
- delivering project on time thanks to better resource management and extensive monitoring,
- managing project financials, both in general and in detail,
- assembling or choosing the right team for the job,
- gaining better understanding of company’s processes and improving them,
- exchanging the information within the organization without reaching out to its particular members,
- forecasting the profitability of new project to accurately estimate the costs of operations and eliminate costly mishaps,
- providing the financial department, sales, project managers, specialists and board members with a single source of truth without forcing them to attend another set of meetings,
- reducing the time spent on administrative tasks by up to 80% - one of our customers, Capco, did exactly that.
- eliminating the mistakes in data transfer and incorrect invoices. This was schieved by Netgen, a company that now issues 0 inaccurate invoices per month with its new Primetric PSA.
- improving scalability by reflecting and organizing key processes in the company, allowing for more efficient management. In the case of Altudo, the company grew from 200 to 500 employees using Primetric’s PSA system,
- reducing the time needed to prepare the offer while maintaining over 90% accuracy in the estimations.
PSA vs IT industry: why is the connection so important?
In the IT industry professional services automation is particularly important. Of course, companies in the field are one of the most project-based businesses in the world, which is why they are naturally attracted to professional services automation. However, the IT industry also has other challenges it has to face on a daily basis. These include:
- numerous projects managed at once,
- interwoven allocations with some part-time employees and, in some cases, internal projects,
- different types of budgets (Fixed Price, Time and Material, maintenance fees, etc.),
- different types of contracts for employees,
- advanced accounting with estimations and forecasts,
- comprehensive reporting.
Apart from that, we also need to take the wages in the industry into consideration. That’s because IT specialists are exceptionally well compensated and, as a result, they generate enormous costs. Managing their time well is therefore a key to creating a profitable company.
In short, the IT industry needs to process and analyze extensive amounts of data from different areas - and professional services automation can help them do just that and a little more.
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As you can see, in the case of the IT industry, PSA covers the project life cycle entirely, from its very beginning to its end, providing the managers with all the data they need to make both large and small decisions.
Professional services automation also has one more advantage that is particularly important for the IT industry. It helps connect all the employees in the remote environment, allowing them to exchange information. As a result, it facilitates long-distance employment, improving the chances of hiring valuable specialists from different locations.
What problems should you solve with professional services automation?
When should you consider implementing PSA software in your organization? Almost every time is right for that change. Still, you should definitely start thinking about such an implementation when one of the following problems comes to your attention.
Limited information transparency
Being left in the dark because of numerous separate tools is a leading cause of miscalculations and wrong decisions - that is the case for many companies, including our customer, IT Craft. Professional services automation can gather the information from across the company and update it in the real time to ensure that you have all the data to make accurate predictions and plans.
Endless e-mail exchanges are an inevitable part of your day? They shouldn’t be. With PSA at hand, managers are able to access the information from their colleagues without asking for their precious time. That’s how Monterail benefited from PSA - there are no lengthy meetings now, and it only takes 30 seconds to find the information the managers need!
No visibility of resource availability
Knowing who does what and when is the basis of resource management. Unfortunately, without PSA or a dedicated resource planning software this information may be inaccessible. However, with the system in place, you can see all of the details you need to know about in a set of charts and tables updated every few seconds.
Poor project management
Can’t find a gap for another project? Perhaps you do not have enough information to find it. With PSA, that shouldn’t be a problem - in fact, such solutions can also help you determine profitability and costs, create estimations and manage allocations.
What are the benefits of professional services automation?
Professional services automation software may have numerous advantages depending on its features. In general, it includes benefits such as:
- improved accuracy of both estimates and plans,
- up-to-date information on all the operations in the company,
- precise time tracking,
- accurate budgeting and accounting based on actual data (i.e. settled and unsettled costs, wages, etc.),
- notifications with information on any problems (including, but not limited to: overbooking, lack of profits, mistakes, etc.),
- ability to connect different systems via integrations and create a seamless channel for all the information,
- reduced meeting time,
- improved profitability,
- accurate estimations and forecasts,
- reduced time spend on administrative tasks,
- a single source of truth for all the employees,
- improved processes and, as a result, improved scalability,
- elimination of mistakes,
- improved transparency and information flow.
How can you make your life easier with PSA?
Professional services automation provides a very comprehensive approach to management. That is why all the executives can use its features to their benefit.
A perfect CFO should be delighted to have a professional services automation in his company. That is because it can provide them with:
- new possibilities of monitoring finances (i.e. profitability reports, custom reports),
- an option to create accurate estimations based on real data on costs and wages,
- control over all the finances in particular projects (wages, overheads, profits, accounting, and more), as well as all of them at once,
- financial data available on demand, without completing the information from various other tools or spreadsheets,
- reports for factors such as: profitability, projects, people, customers, teams, or even the entire company,
- the ability to analyze different margin levels,
- realistic financial forecasts based on people’s capacity and project budgets (allocations are connected with the financial data),
- filters, automated analysis and alerts,
- integration with accounting systems,
- additional free time and peace of mind.
For PMO, professional services automation is even more important. That’s because it can help them with:
- monitoring progress of all projects in the calendar and checking their results in reports,
- reacting to any arising issues in projects,
- creating draft projects and estimating resources needed to complete them,
- resource allocation and reporting vacancies,
- improving the communication between other PMs and teams,
- advanced reporting for utilization, availability, vacancies, overbooking, benches, and more,
- project data available on demand,
- cooperation between managers, teams and particular employees,
- reacting in unforeseen situations, incl. absences, finding substitutes, etc.,
- reducing the time spent in meetings and on communication with other parties.
PSA also brings a number of improvements for Sales Managers. With the tool, they can:
- check availability of resources they need for a potential project,
- see which types of project are the most profitable ones, and seek them in the future,
- estimate the cost of a prospective project,
- see which teams or employees are available to join a new project.
Do I need a custom PSA software?
In general, custom software is not necessary, as tools available on the market generally contain a wide range of features you can tailor to your needs. In fact, its creation may be time consuming and very costly - and you could definitely use these resources for other profitable projects.
Instead, there are numerous professional services automation tools a business can choose from. You can decide which one to choose based on your use cases - or you can book a demo with one of our advisors to learn more about Primetric and see if it fits your needs.
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What if I want to introduce a PSA when I’m using JIRA?
Professional services automation software can usually be integrated with other tools commonly used in IT companies. In fact, implementing PSA may be much easier if you already use JIRA for your business, as the majority of tools can be integrated with it and use the data it contains. Primetric is one of such tools!
Still, some PSA tools are capable of that more than the others. Good professional services automation platform should strive for making any integrations as easy as possible. In the best case scenario, they should do that by offering:
- constant support,
- real-time updates,
- automated import,
How to choose a PSA software? Step by step guide
- Identify the needs of your organization.
The work with professional services automation starts with defining the company’s needs. To do so, try to:
- define the main challenges your company is facing and find the problems you need to solve,
- analyze the processes and find the parties responsible for them. Ask for their experiences while making a decision,
- interview managers and employees to find real life use cases the tool needs to reflect,
- analyze the company’s structure and find any issues related to it.
To do so efficiently, you can use our sample questions to cover the most common scenarios.
Company analysis: sample questions
- When exactly do we start scheduling new projects? When is the deal closed? Or maybe when does the deal reach a certain level of certainty?
- What is required to prepare an offer for a client? People availability? Cost and income rates?
- Who is responsible for estimations? Do we need an approval workflow?
- How do we estimate new projects? Based on roles? Project phases? Both? Or maybe another way?
- Who makes decisions about new allocation / reallocation?
- Do we have standardized income rates based on seniority / roles / other factors?
- What billing models do we prefer?
- How are clients going to pay us? Upfront? On a monthly/weekly/quarterly basis? After finishing the project?
- How do we analyze project delivery? Do we have must-have KPIs, i.e. RAG status / profitability?
- Should different managers have limited access to specialists that they don’t manage? Or maybe they should see them, but can’t allocate them?
- Check the integrations and connections to create a single source of truth.
2. Browse the features offered by available tools.
First, make a list of features that you need to have in your tool based on the results of an internal analysis you have - hopefully - performed in the first step. You can also divide them into three categories:
- good to have,
To do so, you can use the MoSCoW method. It’s a prioritization technique used in management, business analysis, project management, and software development to reach a common understanding with stakeholders on the importance they place on the delivery of each requirement you may find useful in such cases.
Then, browse the professional services automation tools. Write down the features they include, as well as the ones they lack.
After that, compare the PSA tools based on key factors such as: available features, price, roles, budgets, etc. You can do that in a simple table.
3. Answer the questions on your key goals.
Based on the list of available features and your priorities from the first step, decide which options fit your needs best. When in doubt, consult the people responsible for the fields you wish to include in your PSA tool.
4. Make a final decision.
If you followed the steps above, you already have a list of professional services automation tools along with their features sorted by priority. Now you can simply pick the best option from the list!
How to set up professional services automation software?
First and foremost, you do not have to do this by yourself. When you make your choice, a provider should reach out to you to discuss details of the implementation. If he doesn’t, you should seriously reconsider your choices!
Still, if you want to see in detail how to set up professional services, we strongly encourage you to contact our advisor and book a demo - our team will be more than happy to discuss the exact case for your company.
Choose the best professional service automation tools - choose Primetric!
You can skip overthinking and go straight to our PSA solution - we can ensure you have everything you need to improve the processes in your company with technology!
Of course, you do not have to buy our solution right away. First, book a demo with our advisor or see our case studies to discover what we really can do. Then, making a decision will be a piece of cake!