What is Professional Services Automation Software?
Professional Services Automation (PSA) Software offers a holistic solution to manage the end-to-end life cycle of professional services businesses.
Professional services business comprises of two distinct phases:
- Contract-to-Project Delivery
The Opportunity-to-Contract phase involves the process of generating customer leads, lead qualification, developing & revising customer proposals, and finally creating the contract.
The Contract-to-Project Delivery phase shifts the focus to project planning and execution.
- Planning involves finalizing the project scope, effort & duration estimates, preparing schedules, estimating resources, costs, and budgets, identifying risks & creating response plans, procurement planning, and documentation.
- Execution focuses on tracking the progress of deliverables, tracking timesheets, effort, costs, revenue recognition, invoicing, and cashflow.
- Closure focuses on customer acceptance of deliverables, final invoicing, lessons learned review, releasing resources, documentation, and evaluating stakeholder satisfaction.
A PSA Software offers capabilities such as:
- Capturing leads and qualifying them.
- Automate margin calculations, proposal creation, and contracts.
- Transition contracts to delivery projects.
- Estimate duration, resources, & costs and create schedules.
- Procurement planning and creation of purchase orders.
- Risk identification, assessment, and response plans.
- Progress tracking – deliverables, effort, timesheets, and costs.
- Document customer acceptance.
- Manage lessons learned.
- Review stakeholder satisfaction.
- Integrate with enterprise applications (ERP, Accounting, and others).
Above all, a PSA Software:
- Digitizes the complete life cycle from lead generation to project closure.
- Configures to the organization standards.
- Delivers one version of truth!
What are the benefits of a PSA Software?
Professional Services Automation (PSA) Software could deliver significant benefits depending how the solution is configured and implemented for a specific professional services organization.
- High Configurability leads to better acceptance and value realization.
Professional services organizations pursue diverse projects (project type, predictive/agile approach, organizational standards). PSA Software offers high capability to configure (minimal customization) the solution to the needs and context of the organization – akin to bespoke tailoring! Configurability ensures user acceptance and faster value realization.
- Templatization supports significantly higher efficiency and productivity.
PSA Software offer a significant benefit when can ‘templatize’ business processes, workflows, decision nodes, escalations, etc. Doing so enables organizations to increase the efficiency and productivity of teams across the board.
- Holistic solution reduces the organizational IT footprint and associated costs.
PSA Software offers a holistic solution with capabilities that include both pre-sales (lead management, estimation & proposal builder, contract creation) and project delivery (project scope, schedule, resources, costs, risks, issues, procurement, meetings, and documentation). Organizations do not have to invest in multiple solutions and thereby optimize their technology costs!
- SMAC-enabled for the next-gen professionals.
PSA Software come loaded capabilities of social collaboration, mobile-access, analytics, and cloud-based. Organizations reap the benefits of the latest technology, scaling up faster, along with information security.
- Digitized project management landscape.
PSA Software offer 100% opportunities to digitize the end-to-end life cycle of professional services projects – processes, workflows, approvals, escalations, etc., leading to faster decision making and value delivery.
- Seamless Systems Integration
PSA Software supports integration with existing IT applications such as CRMs, ERPs, Accounting, HRMS and others leading to a single version of truth. It facilitates better decision making and drives growth and profitability.
What are the disadvantages of Professional Services Automation (PSA) Software?
There are two broad categories of Professional Services Automation (PSA) Software.
- Commercially off the shelf (or COTS) PSA Software: These come with pre-configured/designed features and functionalities that could be split into modules.
- Configurable PSA Software: These get configured based on the specific needs of industry life cycle, project diversity, and organizational standards.
The disadvantages are mostly associated with COTS PSA Software rather than those that are configurable.
Very low opportunities for configurability.
COTS PSA Software are pre-designed for a specific type of business need and do not support configurations as per individual customer needs. They rely on customization to get the job done. Unfortunately, customization is time-consuming, expensive, and difficult to maintain (bug patches, upgrades, etc.).
Lack of templatization.
COTS PSA Software have limited capabilities for organizations to ‘templatize’ based on business processes, workflows, decision nodes, escalations, etc. The users are forced into ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to their work. In such a scenario, organizations experience lower levels of efficiency and productivity of teams.
Increased IT footprint and associated costs.
Without configuration capabilities, organizations are forced to deploy multiple solutions for different aspects of professional services business. It is not uncommon to observe separate tools for proposal management, contract management, project scheduling, project financials, project risks, and so on. This increases an organization’s IT footprint and the associated costs of their management.
Unable to complement digital realities.
COTS PSA Software do not completely complement digital transformation. Unable to completely digitize, organizations experience inefficient and slower decision making as they rely on emails, documents, and meetings for discussions, reviews, and approvals.
Lacking systems integration capabilities.
COTS PSA Software offer very limited to zero integration with existing IT applications such as CRMs, ERPs, Accounting, HRMS. The result – questionable data integrity and weak decision-making, negatively impacting growth and profitability.
What are the weaknesses of Professional Services Automation (PSA) Tools?
Rigid product design.
Commercially-of-the-Shelf (COTS) PSA Tools are based on rigid designs (features, functionalities, etc.) and expect customers to deploy them ‘as-is.’ Modifications to suit customer-specific needs are not welcome or are extremely expensive along with ongoing management challenges.
Suits small businesses.
COTS PSA Tools are mostly visualized for the small businesses with simple processes. The organization growth is usually constrained by the growth of the software capabilities.
COTS PSA Tools are focused on just a few traditional aspects of scheduling, resources, costs, and timesheets while not addressing the end-to-end cycle of the PSA business. When organizations grow and the need for expanded modules, features, or functionalities arise, COTS PSA Tools fail to measure up in the face of new advancements in software.
Work as a ‘software island’.
COTS PSA Tools are not designed to handle growth in IT complexity when organizations invest in other systems such as CRMs, ERPs, Accounting, and others. Without advanced capabilities to integrate with other systems, COTS PSA Tools end up being just a ‘software island.’
Not for the SMAC generation.
COTS PSA Tools are not designed to handle the modern business requirements of supporting a Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud (or SMAC) generation – something which is no longer a nice-to-have!
Choosing a Professional Services Automation (PSA) Software
Review if your PSA Software shall be configured for your company-specific standards, business processes, and workflows without being ‘customized’ at exorbitant costs. Further the PSA Software must be able to ‘templatize’ based on diverse nature of your projects and processes – it must make users feel that the solution works for their ‘way of working’!
Review if your PSA Software is scalable in terms of number of users as well as the volume of transactions handled. From ten users to ten thousand users and from thousand records to millions of records, the PSA Software must scale up – like a breeze!
Review if your PSA Software has capabilities for pre-sales – lead management, margin calculations & proposal development, contract creation; project delivery – scheduling & Gantt charts, resources, engineering, procurement, costs & financials, timesheets, quality, risks & issues, documentation, analytics, social collaboration, mobile-enabled, and cloud-based.
Ensure that your PSA Software seamlessly integrates with enterprise applications such as CRMs, ERPs, Accounting, and others.
Review the strategy and operating model for your PSA Software implementation. The success of your PSA Software lies in its implementation. Understand the past implementation successes of your PSA Software Vendor.
Review if your PSA Software offers highest value-to-cost ratio!