Over the past couple of decades, IT offshoring and outsourcing have grown significantly. However, the traditional approach of staff augmentation (where clients paid for each staff member a service provider added to complete an IT contract) soon made way for a robust model under which managed service providers (MSP) deliver specific capabilities for a given price. Markets and Markets estimates the global managed services market at USD 329 billion by 2025. Managed services include security, network, data center, IT infrastructure, and communication & collaboration.
The need for PSA software for MSP or IT PSA software has become imminent due to intense competition and demanding customers.
A typical life cycle of managed services is below.
Let us now explore how professional services automation software adds value to managed service providers.
A. Project & Program Management
Managed service providers must manage two categories of projects and programs.
- Transition customer technology services to the managed service provider platform.
The process of taking over the IT services (as per the contract) must be managed by rigorous project and program management – scope definition, duration estimation & scheduling, resources management, cost estimation, budgeting & control, quality metrics, and risk management. When the size and complexity further increase, organizations must deliver them as programs with multiple sub-projects.
Sample IT Managed Service Transition Approach
Even to imagine managing such programs/projects without top-class PSA software for MSP gives nightmares that could last a lifetime!
There were many instances when the IT service transition has failed, and the customer had called off the contract.
PSA software for managed services such as TouchBase offers deep capabilities that are end-to-end and holistic. PSA software ensures a seamless and integrated way to plan the projects/programs, including requirements management & traceability, work breakdown structures & scheduling, granular resource & cost estimation, risk identification & response planning, and procurement. As the project progresses into execution, PSA software enables real-time tracking on all the project parameters – to support predictable outcomes.
2. Projects & programs to improve IT service performance
IT service transition is just the first step. Managed services providers are under constant pressure to deliver more or risk losing customers. Faster technological advancements double up the business pressures. Managed services providers must look at ways to increase efficiencies, productivity, optimize costs, and expand capabilities. These initiatives are no ordinary – they need meticulous planning and flawless execution. Top-ranked PSA software for MSP makes the journey of managing projects & programs feel like a breeze. They come with capabilities such as detailed business case creation and evaluation, funding value-adding initiatives, holistically planning, and seamlessly tracking their progress to ensure – value realization.
B. Tracking managed services – performance, billing, and contract management.
For most managed services providers, tracking their performance is a hard nut to crack. Most of the times, the struggle is to:
- Accurately track resources & efforts.
- Link performance to SLAs and contract terms & conditions.
- Connect services to the invoicing process.
Managed service providers still rely on a spreadsheet-based approach to performance tracking, the result is – questionable data integrity, missing billing, lost revenue, and finally, profitability & cashflows. Further, customer contracts are not automatically synchronized with service delivery – leading to non-value-adding verifications.
Investing in robust Professional Services Automation software for MSP offers advantages that include:
- Streamlining the process of resource allocation and management.
- Connected contract management and the associated service level agreements.
- Granular tracking of efforts (task, work package, service line, and customer account) through digitized timesheets.
- Automated billing based on different contract rates – standard, overtime, weekend, etc.
- Built-in workflows drive transparency and bottleneck identification.
- Automated invoice generation
- Integrating service billing with existing ERP or Accounting Systems.
- Eliminating revenue leakage.
- Avoiding negative financial impact.
C. Knowledge and Content Management
One of the areas of concern for manages services providers is their ability to deal with the content & knowledge for each of their engagements. Reliance on standalone documents and emails makes the process of managing knowledge a critical aspect. There were instances when knowledge retained with a few team members was lost, and, when they quit, customer services were disrupted. In a hyper-competitive world, knowledge in any form must be recorded and made available to those and when needed.
Best-in-class IT PSA software for managed services offer documentation capabilities such as:
- Document templates
- Multi-tier folder structure
- Multiple document formats
- Version control
- Document archival
- Secure encryption
- Archival and retrieval
Working on managed services involves real-time collaboration across the board. MSPs often struggle with disjointed ways to collaborate with team members, the result – service delays and customer agony.
A top-class IT PSA Software such as TouchBase integrates collaboration as part of the daily work with capabilities akin to social media platforms. A social platform makes collaboration instant, effective and seamless and converts potential customer agony into customer delight.
To conclude, it is not rocket science to realize the power of Professional Services Automation software for MSP businesses. If business leaders still think otherwise, their managed services business is at risk.