There was once a time when managing a project at work was fairly straightforward.
Do most of your projects miss deadlines or go over budget? Do your project managers have a hard time managing project delivery or planning resources? Does your finance/billing team spend a lot of time collating billable hours, costs, and expenses for raising accurate invoices? Do you spend several weeks to get the right resources for your enterprise’s projects? Do you feel that you are leaving money on the table but are not sure how much and where?
If you nodded a silent “yes” for any of these questions, then it’s time to re-evaluate your existing professional services automation (PSA) solution. This type of effective tool can help you and your enterprise if you’re stuck with traditional methods to manage projects, resources, costs, and profits.
What Is a Professional Services Automation Solution and Why Do You Need It?
A professional services automation solution is a comprehensive software suite that provides project and service-based companies a single source of truth for all their projects, resources, financials, and planning. It breaks data silos and provides a hassle-free way to manage service delivery, resources, time tracking, finance and billing, team collaboration, and reporting.
PSA makes it easy to optimize professional services revenue and pricing by accounting for all relevant metrics, including true resource costs, billable and non-billable utilization, margins, and more. The integration capabilities of a PSA software enables the sharing of project, resource, time, costs, and billing information with your ecosystem — whatever that may be — to get the full picture of your enterprise, all in one place.
How to Pick the Right Enterprise PSA Software
With so many PSA solutions available in the market, picking the best one for your business could be an uphill task. To help you, here are seven must-have features and functionalities you should look for when evaluating enterprise PSA solutions.
1. Effective Enterprise Resource Management
The ability to work remotely has opened up a global resource pool. The ebbs and flows of working in a professional services organization mean that the team needed throughout the year will also evolve. A solid PSA solution will not only identify resources required on a project with their billable rate, but will also track skills and availability against their profiles to recommend the best resources for the sourcing manager to choose from.
And because it does all the heavy lifting to come up with possible options, resource allocation takes less than an hour. This is particularly helpful when identifying teammates across multiple regions and enables faster resourcing and maximized billable utilization.
2. Clear Project Management Against Activities and Milestones
Arguably, one of the biggest challenges in managing a large number of people and projects at your enterprise is ensuring that they are completed on time and on budget. You need a solution that goes beyond Gantt charts to track project activity, including work done, remaining work, estimated completion, and the completion date of assigned tasks. To get real-time visibility into project delivery, the solution must give project managers the latest on work done, quality, and any other specifics so that they can make proactive decisions to keep the projects and budgets on track.
3. Next-level Client Management
With the ever-increasing cost of acquiring new clients, we all know the importance of customer retention, especially in the professional services space. With the right PSA solution in place, you can manage customers, vendors, fund sources, service partners, and internal departments in one place to bring transparency into project delivery.
Configurable reports and views will be vital to provide real-time visibility to clients about what work is being done. Up-to-date metrics like costs, billing, profitability, and more are vital to better assess your client relationships and leverage actionable insights to move the projects toward profitability.
4. Easy Project Financials Management
After all the time spent working on a project, billing clients is important to minimize the chances of revenue loss. However, billing against projects can be a complicated process — particularly when payments are tied to project milestones, pay-as-you-go contracts, or other complex service agreements. What’s more, all hours worked by staff — including contractors — and related client project expenses need to be accurately captured to produce the right invoice.
PSA solutions today can dramatically reduce the time it takes to bill clients by generating an invoice with a few mouse clicks, which can be customized and sent directly to the client from within the system. A solution with advanced financial capabilities ensures your proposals and bids are correct to avoid cost overruns and meet margins. It should factor in 100 percent of resource time and costs, including overheads, while creating rate cards to maximize margins and profitability. The ability to have versatile bill plan modeling to accommodate various client/project billing needs — fixed-bid, time and materials, flat, or any combination — is an added advantage for any enterprise.
5. Additional Software Integrations
Besides integrating with timesheets, expense reports, and invoicing, sharing data with other software is important to understand the lifecycle and business impact of a project. For example, integrating with a CRM system can better manage sales to delivery team handoff and streamline opportunities against future resource requirements. Integrating with an ERP system can further automate project billing and collection. When assessing a PSA solution, look not only at the project management needs but also at other systems to make sure that all essential project data “talks” to each other.
6. Built-in Analytics
To drive business growth and profit margins, enterprises need real-time visibility into project performance, including insights on resource utilization, billing forecasts, budgets versus actuals, and other key reports. The best PSA solutions for an enterprise provide a live view into all your business metrics — profits, margins, revenues, and more to enable agile responses.
Customizable dashboards should cater to every role within your organization, including project managers, resource managers, finance teams, practice managers, client managers, and more. These insights can provide at-a-glance data for senior management or can zoom in to focus on specific areas for making decisions related to rapidly getting and keeping resources and optimizing projects and finances.
7. Enterprise-ready Cloud and Mobile Capabilities
The PSA you choose must not be just another feature in your ERP. Rather, it should enable your businesses with an enterprise-grade product that supports global governance and local administration, and has the scalability and configurability to meet any organization’s diverse needs. A cloud-based enterprise solution should be flexible, secure, and leverage advanced technologies while providing a lower TCO. In addition, with so many professional services executives traveling to and from client projects and other appointments, mobile capabilities are a must-have for a PSA solution. The mobile apps must be simple to use and enable users to manage projects, resources, and financials on the go.
No matter what your industry is — legal services, financial services, architectural services, marketing and public relations, technology — utilizing professional services automation software that is cloud-based, configurable, and scalable can help you meet all your unique needs. You’ll receive a holistic view of all metrics you need to eliminate revenue leakages and grow your business.