If this article brought your interest, chances are that you’re on the lookout for the best professional services automation software (PSA) and what it can bring to your business. Before we jump to the core, let’s first remind ourselves what PSA is all about and how it’s different from an array of point solutions. If you’re pressed for time, you’re welcome to skip and get to the reasons down below straight away.
What is professional services automation?
Professional services automation is a full-scale software suite developed to assist specialists in project- and service-oriented businesses, such as IT consulting, computer software, creative agencies, etc.
The primary purpose of PSA software is to get data into perspective and provide executives with one real-time truth of the whole business, so they can scale and reach a higher level of sustainability. This is achieved by developing a variety of useful metrics across the entire business to evaluate basic business processes.
To record solid actionable data, typical PSA functions combine work automation, project management, resource management, time tracking, finance & billing, team collaboration, and reporting. The metrics might include, but are not limited to billable and non-billable utilization, actual vs. planned revenue, cost, and profit, project margins, etc., which provide insights that can be used to optimize processes and push the envelope.
Ultimately, keeping everything available and connected in one place, PSA software allows for more swift and intelligent operations. To get even further in improving the efficiency of your operations, it usually integrates with accounting systems, like Quickbooks and e-conomic, or beloved project management systems, like Jira, giving you the opportunity to connect disparate systems together and own the big picture.
The benefits of using PSA software
PSA software not only gives you the necessary tools to track key performance indicators for your business, but it also accumulates insights in a way that can help you allocate resources intelligently to increase profitability and reduce costs.
A recent end-user survey carried out by SPI Research in 2017, proved significant improvements for firms that moved to using PSA software, with specific returns including lower project cancellation rates, improved on-time and on-budget project delivery, lower budget leaks, higher resource utilization, and increased project margins.
The study concluded that for an average 172-person professional services firm the return on investment (ROI) is significantly high. According to researchers, by investing around $200,000 in implementation and PSA software license costs, in five years, professional service firms can expect an estimate of nearly $23 million in increased revenue and reduced costs.
Further on, we explain in more details how professional service automation software helps organizations hit this number.
1. Less administrative tasks
Professional service automation tools are designed to weed out work-intensive processes and reduce unnecessary data entry points. This is done through automating different time-consuming processes, such as project planning and scheduling, financial reporting, workflow management. The benefits will not be long in coming - you’ll realize immediately how much time you’re saving without having to spend hours crunching numbers or doing other administrative tasks.
Forecast’s Auto Schedule feature is a one-of-its-kind solution that allows you to kickstart your project in no time, taking the hassle out of project planning.
2. Improved predictability
PSA software, advanced with artificial intelligence can help you predict when projects can be delivered, taking into account your available resources. This is achieved by putting the cumulative skills and learnings from hundreds of thousands of projects to work for every user, every day. Additionally, PSA allows you to look months into the future and understand when to hire new people. Resource forecasting equips executives with the right scalability insights and you can make timely and informed decisions.
3. Higher resource utilization rates
Allowing to manage everything from quote to invoice, PSA software is extremely useful when it comes to increasing productivity. It has the correct suite of tools for assigning the right people to the right tasks at the right billing rates. Additionally, you can spot lower resource utilization rates and address them immediately. Because everything’s in one place, the numbers can be disassembled for a more accurate understanding of what’s affecting your operations.
Higher utilization rates are also achieved through improved team collaboration and agility. PSA software unites teams for collaboration and knowledge-sharing in one central location, keeping everyone in the loop. Working in sprints, teams can stay focused, reduce rework, and find optimal speed for everyone, while kanban boards provide a better overview of who’s working on what and visualize dependencies.
4. Lower budget leaks
PSA software has everything you need to track your planned vs. actual spending and thus stop blowing your revenue. Capturing non-billable time and expenses that almost always take a big bite of your budget, PSA will illustrate where you’re overspending, so you can plug the budget leaks just in time. Learn more about project accounting in Forecast here.
5. Increased project margins
PSA paints a clear map of where you’re earning or burning money, providing critical information on which projects and clients contribute most to the profitability of your portfolio, thus informing your future decisions. You can also get an accurate picture of resource distribution on projects and see revenue, cost, and profit per each role. The insights can be used to better plan and re-allocate resources for higher project margins.
6. Full data visibility
Centralizing all service processes, PSA software breaks down information silos and ensures vital data overview across all levels. Your data is automatically recorded, systemized, and turned into powerful holistic or granular reports. To make it happen, PSA is fitted with time-tracking functionality that feeds payroll and status reports. Filling in timesheets every day, the teams set reporting in motion.
7. Enhanced customer satisfaction
It’s important not to forget that communication is paramount in all stages of the project to address the classic concerns of your clients. A proper PSA solutions is a natural destination for communication, where everything is connected in real time and clients can be invited to watch over your shoulder at any time. Keeping tabs on how things are progressing and being in the know, clients can stay put and loyal to your services.
To sum it up, PSA software can turn operations into a well-oiled machine. In contrast to point solutions, PSA suites help to create a smarter future for your company by combining all mission-critical functions from quoting and all the way to invoicing. It serves various business, management, and collaboration purposes and brings your attention to risks that demand corrective actions.
Want to learn more? Check out Forecast’s Professional Services Automation software, a full-suite platform for improving operational and financial performance, powered by AI.