Choosing Professional Service Automation (PSA) solutions, either for the first time or to replace an existing platform, is not easy. Recent development in professional services automation technology also means there are now new options potentially making the selection process even more daunting and time-intensive.
Here are some key considerations to help narrow your choices to a PSA solution that’s best suited to your organizations needs and budget.
1. Your Service Delivery Requirements
Understanding your organization’s objectives and requirements is key to choosing the right platform. This includes understanding:
- Pain points you want to solve. For example, does your organization have siloed data across teams, lack of visibility into key information, or an inability to accurately track resource utilization?
- Business processes – what do your unique business processes look like and what new processes might need to be implemented?
- Hosting requirements: Cloud-based or on-premise?
- Desired outcomes. For example: better resource utilization, scalability, increased productivity, smoother processes, etc.
- Key functionality most essential to your organization. For example, project management, resource planning, business intelligence, project accounting, etc.
2. Resource Management
Powerful resource management capability is needed in:
- Future planning
- Optimization of billable hours
- Qualifying resources based on workload, skillset, rates, and more.
As such, your professional service automation platform should be able to provide you with a simple way to visualize your resources in the following scenarios:
- In real-time – to keep an eye on utilization and resource loading
- Planning and forecasting – to see what impact resourcing changes could have on projects and the bottom line.
- In a historical context – to review previous projects and optimize going forward.
3. Project Management Capabilities
If your organization intends to plan and execute projects within your PSA solution, its important to make sure that there is enough depth in the functionality to satisfy the needs of project managers on the team. This means having access to features like dependencies and critical path. Its also equally important that other users (that are not project managers), be able to complete work and projects in a way that is in line with how they prefer to work. Features like customizable views and productivity tools like to-do lists can be very useful for non-technical users.
4. Control Over Project Financials
Being able to control project financials is crucial to achieving profitable projects, repeatedly and predictably. This is why its important to have access to financial data, including revenue, labor costs and project expenses to report on project profitability and by extension:
- Real-time visibility to enable adjustments on the fly
- Improved margins
As such, youll want to ensure the PSA solution enables your organization to input costs and expenses, and track them against predetermined targets. For best results, the professional services automation solution should also provide support for billing, time and expense tracking, flexible billing options and integration with invoicing systems.
5. Business Intelligence
Making data-driven decisions is a key competitive advantage for any business. To leverage it, choose a professional services automation solution that provides easy-to-analyze data with storytelling visuals. Ideally, your team should be able to utilize a combination of both pre-built and custom dashboards and reports to provide internal users and stakeholders with a steady stream of relevant, timely data.
6. Collaboration and Client Engagement
Collaboration and client engagement is an integral part of delivering satisfactory services to clients. As such, a robust PSA solution should eliminate data silos and dismantle barriers between teams. This means all team members should be able to communicate freely, have access to one set of project files and be able to easily follow the progress of any given project. It should also facilitate client engagement to:
- Directly involve them in the approval process
- Easily garner their feedback
- Keep them updated with relevant information
(The objective is to ensure all project stakeholders have visibility into vital project data to facilitate quick feedback and approval.)
Most organizations rely on a host of platforms and applications to run their business. Chances are, yours is no different. Professional Services Automation should not be a standalone process. This means the PSA tool of your choice should integrate with the applications that drive your business on a daily basis. These are some of the most common platforms and applications categories that you will want to ensure you are able to integrate with:
- Ticketing systems
- Accounting software
- Email clients
- Collaboration apps
- Productivity apps
- Design platforms
8. Portfolio Optimization
As your organization completes projects, it generates valuable data. Consolidating this data across projects and project portfolios is a sure competitive advantage.
You can use the data to:
- Learn valuable lessons
- Achieve sustainable business growth
- Continually improve your service delivery
Thus, ensure your PSA application not only tracks the health of your projects but also that of your project portfolios.
Appreciating that price is not always a great representation of quality or value, it’s wise to evaluate how closely the PSA solution fits with your set budget.
While at it, consider overlapping features. If a given option is charging a premium because they offer a feature (like CRM for example) that you already have, opt for a similar option without the feature but that instead offers a quality integration.
Note, the cost is not just about the per user, per month price. Also consider potential implementation fees, integration costs and support fees as a part of the total cost.
10. Ease of Use
Some Professional Services Automation solutions are extremely complex. In some cases, they can take months to learn and leverage properly. For this reason, its important to choose a PSA tool that the majority of people within your organization will find easy and enjoyable to use.
(The objective here is to achieve a higher adoption rate and by extension ensure your business starts reaping the associated benefits in as little time as possible.)
11. Speed and Quality Of Implementation
Dont underestimate the importance of a quick and high-quality implementation. Some PSA solutions can take months and even years to fully implement and reap the benefits. The result being lost opportunities, frustration and poor overall performance from the team.
Choose a platform that can offer a highly personalized implementation in as short of a time as possible. While at it, consider a vendor that offers a high level of support after the implementation is complete.
Choosing the right PSA Solution for your service organization is not easy. Nonetheless, remaining true to your business needs is a great start. Overall, look for a professional services automation tool that delivers the functionality you need with an intuitive experience for all users to ensure high adoption rates and quick results.