A cloud-based Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution can help you reduce costs while improving resource management, time and expense tracking, and project monitoring.

Growing Professional Services firms find it increasingly difficult to manage operations. As the size of the team increases and the business takes on more complex projects, you will find it hard to answer basic questions like who is assigned to which project and who is most suited to be assigned to an upcoming project.

Usually, automation is implemented based on the business needs of individual functions. To automate an identified process, a best-of-breed solution is implemented. The result is multiple systems that do a good job in isolation, but they don’t talk to each other. The lack of overall visibility required to identify the gaps for the business as a whole results in inefficient functional silos.

Some of the issues Professional Services firms are facing include:

  • Disjointed bid-to-bill process with compartmentalized systems and processes that are mostly manual
  • Inefficient resource utilization because you don’t know who is available from which date to staff projects appropriately
  • Difficulty in tracking project profitability and the manual process of collecting data for this analysis is prone to errors

Some of the challenges that Professional Services firms face can be addressed with a connected Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. However, such a system mostly caters to the finance function of the business and doesn’t help much with the unique nature of project-based businesses. What you should consider is a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution.

What is the difference between ERP and PSA?

The best way to understand the difference between ERP and PSA is to explore the history of these solutions. ERP was introduced to help manufacturing firms get a better understanding of the business by automating the sourcing of data from different systems and making it easy to gain insights about processes like manufacturing, cost per product, and billing.

When you try to take an ERP and implement it in a Professional Services firms that doesn’t manufacture anything, there is a gap. The resources of a project-based business are its people who render services to their clients and bill them based on the time and effort that goes into each project. Therefore, a different set of metrics are needed to measure the processes and the profitability of these businesses. That’s where a PSA helps.

PSA helps you understand the needs of each project, staff it to maximize resource utilization, and monitor the profitability in real time. With improved visibility across different projects, you will know if there are a few that are going over budget or facing challenges to meet deadlines. These insights will help you to step in at the right time and make adjustments to keep all the projects on track and maintain your profit margins.

Why use Professional Services Automation software?

There are several benefits of using Professional Services Automation software.

  • Centralized view of all projects with alerts on key measures like budgets, profit margins, and deadlines
  • Increase resource utilization and a more equitable distribution of work
  • Improve project staffing process by matching consultants with the right skills to best-fit projects
  • Reduce invoice rejections with more accurate time tracking, accounting, and billing
  • Automate processes and build efficiencies throughout the project life cycle, including revenue recognition rules and invoicing
  • On-time and on-budget delivery of projects
  • Make data-driven decisions with access to all the information from anywhere and any device
  • Improved visibility and collaboration across different functions like Sales, Project Delivery, Finance, and Human Resources
  • Insights on the financial health of the business and potential risks
  • Shift from reacting to issues in managing resources and projects to proactive approach with ability to forecast

Many of these benefits are also available in an on-premise solution, but it would make more business sense to choose a native-cloud solution and make your business future-ready.

Cloud based vs on-premise: What’s the difference?

A PSA solution can be hosted on servers you own and control or you can host it on the cloud with service providers like Microsoft and their Azure cloud computing services. There are reasons why businesses choose to hold on to their on-premise infrastructure. Mostly it is about the need to control and manage business-critical data in-house. However, as more businesses realize the value of cloud-based solutions, there has been an accelerated trend of businesses moving to the cloud.

Benefits of moving to the cloud:

  • Reduced cost of operations as you no longer need the physical infrastructure, space, and personnel
  • Manage cash flows with predictable software billing and subscription-based payment models
  • Software updates are easier on the cloud with limited impact on operations
  • Robust security with new investments every year to keep your data safe

Whether you want to start with an on-premise solution and then move to the cloud or have a mix of both with a hybrid deployment, what is important is to have a PSA solution that can support your growth.

There are many PSA solutions in the market, including end-to-end solutions like evergreen from sa.global. You can explore these solutions and choose the one that fits your needs the best.