A CLOUD COACH ARTICLE
Professional Services Automation (PSA) software helps professional service companies manage their front- and back-office activities. The best PSA solutions track operating expenses, employee calendars, invoicing, accounting, documents, and staff schedules. They may also offer client portal access (so consultants and their customers can collaborate), resource management, and software integrations to CRMs.
The professional services automation software market is growing. That’s because firms are seeking solutions that will help them operate more efficiently. Automating rote tasks helps to increase billable utilization rates and eliminate unnecessary back-office activities.
Professionals from multiple industries use PSA tools, including business leaders, lawyers, financiers, bankers, project managers, marketing account managers, and accountants. The best professional services automation software improves efficiency and profitability, allowing firms to prioritize shareholder and owner returns.
Products must manage sales opportunities, customer communications, and profiles to qualify as PSA software. They must also include features that enable service managers to construct service-level agreements (SLAs). That’s why the professional services automation Salesforce offers has such detailed functionality. Vendors can deliver an abundance of features built on a robust and dependable platform.
FinancialForce is an excellent example of this concept in action. The vendor has a Salesforce professional services agreement that lets it offer professional services automation via the platform, making it easy to manage service teams, customers, projects, and financials. According to FinancialForce PSA documentation, it’s possible to submit project information, forecast the future confidently, and streamline the complete services lifecycle.
Cloud Coach also offers a similar array of features. Managers can track project and portfolio costs in real-time, allocate resources based on necessity and availability, and monitor project risks and profitability. Identifying revenue by business unit, project, or portfolio, is also built into the solution.
If you would like to learn more about Professional Services, check out our Definitive Guide, where we discuss some of the most important aspects of running a professional services business. Read it here.
The benefits of professional services automation software are considerable. Firms that leverage platforms successfully can dramatically improve productivity, profitability, and efficiency.
PSA tools lower administration costs considerably because they allow consulting firms to migrate from spreadsheets to more automated solutions. Firms can eliminate admin tasks such as entering schedule data, searching for errors, signing off on time sheets, and updating project plans. Dedicated software also eliminates the need to enter information on multiple platforms. Once managers and employees enter it once, anyone else can use it for any purpose, freeing up time for billable services.
Professional services automation software also assists compliance by providing an ongoing audit trail. Managers and colleagues can see what happened and conduct the necessary follow-ups. PSA tools record extensive histories designed to give even the most earnest auditors sufficient data.
For instance, PSA tools let you explore why a particular assignment was unsuccessful. You can leverage the information to learn from the experience and determine what went wrong.
You can also explore what went well. Project management tools record all the information, giving you data-driven insights beyond what individual consultants could tell you from memory alone. You can see where your competitive advantage lies and where to focus next.
Another benefit is better real-time reporting. Many companies adopt quarterly reporting, collecting and analyzing their data every three months and then reacting afterward.
Unfortunately, this approach leads to long delays in course correction. Professional consulting firms can’t see where they are going right or wrong, leaving them in the dark.
PSA reporting eliminates this risk. Managers and colleagues can view the firm’s position in real-time, allowing them to adjust to changing circumstances rapidly. Embedded reporting and analytics tools alert them to issues as soon as data becomes available.
Related to this, PSA tools offer automated reporting facilities that go beyond standard manual entries. With these solutions, administrative assistants no longer need to prepare charts, tables, and figures by hand – the software does it for them.
This functionality is beneficial for firms and clients alike. Firms can better understand their position by leveraging the most up-to-date data, and teams can issue timely reports to clients, reducing non-billable time. Clients can then leverage the information they receive to make data-driven decisions immediately instead of waiting for the final documentation.
PSA software also reduces overheads considerably. It does this in two ways:
The second of these is arguably the more critical. Managers can track employees’ time and monitor how they are using company resources. They can then pull them off projects if they dedicate too much time to a particular client, correcting their course quickly.
Business unit alignment is another benefit of PSA software. PSA solutions correct this by making it easier for departments to operate with a singular purpose. Teams no longer pull the firm in different directions. Once everyone is working to fulfill the same metrics, their actions are more likely to align with your business’s objectives.
The best PSA software also increases cash flow. Properly managed and scheduled consultants generate higher margins, allowing them to invest in new products, services, and concepts.
High cash flow movement in and out of the firm also facilitates operational freedom. Firms can adjust their strategies quickly in response to market changes. Additional revenue is always available for R&D.
Furthermore, high-quality PSA tools also let you increase your win rates by matching you with suitable clients. Tools provide you with greater visibility to see where you can meet needs in the marketplace.
Lastly, many firms report that PSA software makes it easier to conduct global enterprise and remote work operations. Managers can track and analyze projects in real time, even if team members are not on site. They can also create a “singular point of truth,” ensuring that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, regardless of where they are in the world. Project leaders can communicate and collaborate more effectively with team members without the need for a constant string of emails and telephone calls.
Professional services automation Gartner Magic Quadrant analysis makes it easier to rank PSA solutions, helping client firms to choose the right product.
Gartner allocates the best PSA software and professional services automation tools into four categories (quadrants).
“Completeness of vision” is analogous to customer satisfaction. It covers several factors, including speed of deployment, level of support, and overall functionality.
“Execution capacity” refers to the software’s ability to deliver on its promises. Challengers tend to have excellent user-friendliness and slick designs, but they may lack the features or completeness of more established products.
Many firms also rank the best ERP for professional services according to the Magic Quadrant. It’s the same principle here. Leaders offer solutions for all companies, while niche players may only develop limited offerings, such as PSA software for IT companies.
The professional service automation (PSA software market) is challenging to analyze. That’s why Gartner’s Magic Quadrant concept is helpful. It provides a quick reference point for how one professional services product compares to another. PSA analysis should ideally leverage hundreds of reviews from various platforms, not just a few.
Unfortunately, the Magic Quadrant approach struggles with generalizability. Free PSA software has different priorities from premium versions.
Analysts must also use subjective judgments when recommending the best PSA for MSP. Their views may be quite different from those of other firms (depending on why they need the software in the first place).
The PSA software Gartner rates tend to fall into the “leader” and “visionary” quadrants. This page shows the grid. PSA software examples include Sage Instruct PSA, Netsuite PSA, IFS PSA, Workday PSA, and, of course, Cloud Coach.
So, what are the best PSA software solutions available in 2023? Let’s take a look.
According to G2, Cloud Coach is a high performer. The tool lets you improve your billable utilization, profit margin, billable capacity, and process control. It also decreases training time and costs while improving employee and project visibility.
G2 recently awarded Cloud Coach several accolades, including “Momentum Leader Winter 2023,” “High Performer Mid-Market Winter 2023,” and “High Performer Winter 2023.” The tool provides customers with insights into their projects that simply aren’t possible otherwise. Many can’t imagine using another solution.
Like Cloud Coach, FinancialForce leverages the Salesforce platform. The tool lets professional service teams manage their customers, financials, and projects from an integrated native app.
Because project management is Salesforce-native, managers can easily schedule their labor requirements. Editing itineraries is straightforward, and there is additional functionality for attracting new talent to your organization.
You can also streamline and automate multiple processes in your business, including sales, delivery, billing, renewal, and revenue recognition. Tools let you manage the entire service lifecycle without having to stitch together data from other apps.
Forecasting and analytics are part of the package, too. The application plans actuals, milestones, and resources while making it easy to collect all the data you need.
Unfortunately, importing reports from different platforms in FinancialForce is challenging. Furthermore, it’s hard to manage services simultaneously. If you want to use multiple data analytics, you’ll need to invest in educating your team.
Kantata Cloud for Professional Services combines business intelligence with team collaboration, financial management, project management, and resource management. G2 positions this solution as a market “leader” in its Gartner Magic Quadrant, occupying an almost identical position to FinancialForce.
Kantata Cloud has the benefit of being built specifically for the needs of professional service firms. The solution optimizes resources and improves operational performance for organizations delivering bespoke consulting and professional recommendations to clients.
Unfortunately, there are some problems. Functionality is more limited than you might expect and many mid-size firms believe they should get more for the price. There is also a lack of integration with popular tools, particularly unified communications services. For example, Kantata does not integrate with Avaya, the popular North Carolina-based telephone service company.
Contact our experts to discover Cloud Coach today and schedule a FREE live demo to see if we’re the best fit for your organization.
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