First off, you’re thinking what does this perplexing term, professional services automation (PSA), actually mean? Well, before we jump into the need for it, let’s first look at what determines a professional services firm. At its core, a professional services firm sells knowledge and time as opposed to an actual tangible product.
As a result, tracking revenue to product sold isn’t as simple as selling a “widget” for a predetermined amount to ensure a profit. Instead, time must be tracked to a project to ensure the professional services firm is able to make a profit from the services they provide. Therefore, the purpose of a PSA is to help streamline the delivery of those professional services.
Enterprise Resource Planning Versus Professional Services Automation
All bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbon. That’s right, and not all enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools are PSA tools. This is because many ERP systems aren’t designed to meet the specific requirements of professional services firms. Instead, many firms try to piece together their own systems using a variety of generic tools such as an off the shelf accounting product and a homegrown project management solution, or in other cases, using a generic ERP and trying to customize it to meet their needs.
PSA systems, on the other hand, are designed to meet the unique requirements of the professional services industry. These systems come complete with all of the tools a firm needs to manage its business. More importantly, all of these systems communicate with each other. Thus, firm leaders have a 360-degree view into their business.
Benefits of Professional Services Automation
Firstly, PSA systems support new business development by integrating the client relationship management tool with the entire system that maintains your business. This integration makes it easier to take a lead to opportunity and finally create a project.
Secondly, resource planning and strategy development are based on past project performance data. The data ensures that your bid for a project is representative of how your firm delivers its services. Consequently, your firm can rest assured that, at the end of the project, the projected profit will be close to the actual profit.
Lastly, PSAs bring all of your business components together in one system. This reduces operational complexity and shortens the amount of time spent on many of your critical business processes. Not only is the time savings a benefit, but smooth operations for back office personnel are ensured which supports improving the client experience and satisfaction.
Moving Your Firm to a Professional Services Automation Software
Implementing a PSA solution can increase your firm’s productivity and ability to deliver projects on-time which guarantees accurate project planning. However, don’t go at it alone. Make sure you pick a solution that meets the majority of your firm’s needs and choose a trusted partner to assist with the implementation. Trying to force the wrong system to work for your firm will only lead to wasted money and poor usage practices from employees.