Every business faces numerous challenges on its path to success and professional services firms are not an exception. With the need to maximize billable hours, acquire new clients, retain existing ones, manage payments, and deal with complex projects, service organizations have their work cut out for them.
What is professional services automation?
Professional Services Automation (PSA) is a software designed to streamline professional service organizations.
It automates core business processes including project management, resource management, time and expense tracking, invoicing, and other critical functions.
PSA software improves efficiency and collaboration in service industries, allowing them to provide high-quality services to customers.
To be successful, professional services organizations need a technical solution that enables them to effectively manage the entire delivery life cycle, from business development to portfolio optimization. Professional services automation (PSA) software can enable organizations to realize the following five benefits.
Advantages of using professional service automation software
1. Full Visibility into Projects, Finances, and Resources.
Everyone knows the adage – you can’t manage what you can’t measure – but few understand its implication. You can’t measure what you can’t see. With the right PSA solution, services firms can gain visibility into their projects, finances, and resources.
One of the benefits of professional services automation software is its ability to provide real-time visibility into a firm’s service delivery cycle. Suppose a project begins to suffer from budget creep. Without visibility, project managers may be unaware of the potential overrun until it’s too late to take corrective action. PSA solutions enable team members to see roadblocks, realize that a project is off-course, and mitigate potential issues. No one has to explain to the client why the project is delayed and over budget.
Single Source of Truth
Many firms don’t realize how much time is lost trying to locate documents, emails, or other project-related information. If there’s no control over the data, how do team members know if they’re using the latest data? They don’t. As a result, hours may be spent redoing a report or tracking down the latest version of a document.
PSA software can act as a repository for all pertinent information. This centralized location serves as a single source of truth for all team members. They no longer have to wonder if they are working off the latest information or wasting time trying to determine what is the most accurate. This added peace of mind goes a long way to alleviating stress and creating a more productive environment.
2. Capacity and Resource Planning
Choosing the right people for the right job is a key aspect of efficient project management. However, there are still some challenges here. For example, some organizations may face a lack of suitable skill sets for a particular project. As a result, existing resources can become overloaded, and the project may not be delivered on time. Other companies may have enough resources to fulfill their client’s needs but have no idea how to efficiently measure their capacity and plan resource allocation.
When it comes to resource management, professional services automation solutions can provide you with better visibility into your staff skills and availability. As a result, you can evenly distribute the workload among your specialists, set the best-skilled employees to the right task, and plan resources for future projects.
PSA software can provide data to drive decisions about adding or reducing resources. It can help answer questions such as:
- Can a new project be added this quarter?
- Will subcontractors be needed?
- Should new hires be considered?
The right solution will also enable you to look at past project data in the context of resource utilization to see where bottlenecks may have cropped up and will provide an opportunity to optimize future projects to avoid similar issues.
The “what-ifs” of business growth can be paralyzing. There are just too many variables.
- What would happen if we shift a resource from project “A” to project “B”?
- What if we assign a more skillful specialist to the project?
- What happens if we switch resources between the projects?
PSA software can provide the data to help forecast and assess the impact of a given decision on the project outcome. It can provide insights, for example, into the impact of having senior and junior specialists on the project. It also helps you see the balance of skills and resources on the project and what changes if these resources are rearranged.
3. Control over Profitability
The objective of any professional services organization is to make a profit, but sometimes that isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Ideally, professional services automation software enables team members to input costs and expenses and track progress against a planned budget in real time. PSA tools can help projects stay on track to ensure profit margins are met and that projects don’t end up losing the organization money.
Businesses need to maximize billable hours without overloading or underutilizing employees. Finding the right balance is essential to a positive work environment. With professional services automation benefits, companies gain visibility into individual resources so they can take a comprehensive look at staffing. Making adjustments in resource allocation minimizes the risk of employee burnout while maintaining an ideal level of billable utilization.
4. Alignment Between Business Units
When business units are misaligned, companies reduce their overall efficiency. Crucial project requirements are lost in the system leading to inaccurate project costs, mistakes, and delays. Using PSA project management tools that provide integration and automation can improve consistency.
- Integration. Glitches in the delivery cycle often occur when projects are moved from one business unit to another or when there is a lack of data continuity. Integrating PSA software with applications, such as CRM or accounting software, allows team members to better visualize what is happening throughout the organization. It also enables staff to be prepared when a new client comes on board or a new project needs quoting.
- Automation. Generating reports should be as automated as possible. In today’s business environment, waiting days for data to be collected and analyzed means wasted time and potentially lost business. The ability to reference key performance indicators on a dashboard or automate a customized business intelligence report for a client makes it easier to stay connected with performance drivers and keep your client engaged.
5. Improved Collaboration and Communication
If individuals within a professional services firm don’t communicate, it’s impossible to deliver the quality of service that clients expect. Instead of working together, employees are at odds. PSA solutions can encourage collaboration and improve communication.
Elimination of Silos
With PSA software, teams come together to complete their work within a unified platform. The platform enables real-time access to project data that teams can use to spot potential roadblocks and devise improvements. The result is greatly increased productivity and faster completion of tasks and projects.
Who isn’t overwhelmed with emails? With PSA tools, all project-related communications can be placed in a central location. Employees no longer have to search through an inbox to find information. Some solutions can integrate into other applications such as Slack or Microsoft Teams.
Improved Client Interactions
PSA solutions help organizations deliver on a client-first strategy. Less time is spent in meetings, preparing for a client update. Instead, the information is centralized for easier access, and more time can be spent on meeting client needs and strengthening the relationship. It’s even possible to share some information directly with clients through a guest account. The best way to improve client relationships is to keep them informed with relevant and timely information.
Every service organization is different, and so is each PSA platform. Deciding on the right solution to ensure your firm realizes the professional services automation benefits discussed here can be daunting. Thats why businesses must identify the features and functionality that fit their needs and allow them to keep control of their planned budget in real time. If they don’t, they may overlook critical features that can help them thrive. Birdview PSA by Easy Projects can provide you with all the benefits of professional services automation solutions listed here and much more. If you are not sure whether you need such a solution, here are three signs that it’s time to invest in professional services automation. To learn more about how PSA software can help your business grow, request a consultation.