Is finding the ideal professional services automation software (PSA) for your organization as difficult as locating your keys on the beach without a metal detector? Are you encountering so many detours and obstacles in your search that you’re pulling your hair out? It’s OK. Take a few deep breaths and review this in-depth article about the most common PSA features and requirements. This can help you pinpoint your search and develop an elaborate wishlist of features to see which platforms measure up.
First, let’s get an understanding of PSA and how it can help your company.
What is PSA?
A PSA program creates cohesive methods for planning, supervising and gauging the operation of a project throughout its lifespan. It handles every process involved in creating a product such as project management, time recording, invoicing, resource planning, team collaboration and more. This software also comes with a ton of benefits including:
- Full visibility of your project revenue and cost data in one solution, permitting you to make accurate cost forecasts throughout your company.
- Real-time reporting tools that enable you to make prompt and informative business decisions with up-to-date data and insights.
- Proper supervision and implementation of the correct resources, such as employees, machinery, programs and more, to execute crucial jobs and responsibilities.
- Seamless collaboration with your team and customers because this application can oversee all facets of customer relationships and teamwork among your workers including contact details and project insights.
- Automatic copying and dispensation of information across other integrated programs upon entry in your PSA software.
Now we can fully examine common features and requirements typically found within this product.
Recommended Features and Requirements
A project management module assists teams and executives in crafting and documenting schedules, costs and implementing collaboration between users. Some advantages that come with a distinguished project management component include:
- Rapidly pinpointing projects on the verge of getting off track so you can rectify them.
- Notifying you when you’re behind schedule or over budget on an assignment.
- Generating stratified activity plans to layout individual tasks, resources needed and deadlines.
Let’s say, for example, you own a chain of cheesecake shops and one of your shops needs to produce five dozen of your popular chocolate swirl cheesecakes. The project management tool can create and plan how long it will take to make your order, how much all of the ingredients will cost and which bakers in a particular shop are keen on fulfilling this order.
There are other admirable traits to look for in a reliable project management feature such as:
Handling bookkeeping tasks such as recording expenses and revenues, gauging accounts payable and receivable and monitoring the overall financial performance of your business can be burdensome. To alleviate this stress, a good accounting or project accounting module in your PSA application can handle all of your accounting needs and even integrate with an accounting solution that you’re already using (i.e., QuickBooks, Sage, etc.). An admirable accounting module is loaded with advantages such as:
- Overseeing invoices and what stage an invoice is in billing procedures so you can review and diminish postponements.
- Gaining swift expenditures and boosting client gratification when you lodge practical project accounting and systematic arranging practices into your PSA software.
- Instant calculations of intricate revenues and distributions.
If you need to review the financial performances of all or specific cheesecake shops for a particular day, week or month, the accounting component can gather and showcase that information in real time.
The accounting accessory can also record revenues and expenses by a specific client or project. For example, you can review which of your clientele favors your cherry-apple frosted cheesecake, the French vanilla brownie crumble cheesecake or your new brown sugar cinnamon powdered cheesecake.
When searching for an ideal accounting tool, check for these functions:
Budgeting and Forecasting
A resource management apparatus, also known as resource scheduling or resourcing planning, permits you to effortlessly distribute ideal resources, such as employees, machinery and platforms, to carry out particular assignments. Some perks that come with a robust resource management accessory include:
- Full transparency of resource implementation, employee skills analysis and more.
- Punctual skill-tracking and current resource profile availability in one solution, instead of reviewing them in individual spreadsheets.
- Locating and picking the metrics that matter to your business such as hours worked, assigned hours, days worked and more.
Say one of your shops needs to fulfill an order of 100 maple syrup and strawberry glaze cheesecakes. First, the tool can verify if the kitchen has all of the ingredients needed such as cream cheese, milk, eggs, butter and cream. Next, it can ensure at least four to five of the best bakers are fulfilling the order so each one can bake 20-25 cakes. Finally, the accessory can monitor if your mixers, ovens, refrigerators and other appliances are on par.
The resource management feature can also assist in the search for new employees. If you’re looking for new bakers or executives, this module can scour for applicants with a background in making pastries or useful business intelligence.
Keep an eye out for these distinct skills when scouring for an intuitive resource management feature:
Allocate Resources by Skill Set
Cross-Project Resource Allocation
Forecast Resource Needs
When most of your shops churn out hundreds of cheesecakes a week, they need to ensure their billing and invoicing methods are efficient. Practical billing, project billing and billing and invoicing tools enable you to craft and supervise immediate bills and invoices between your clientele. Here are some of the upsides your bakeries will gain when they add an intricate billing tool:
- Monitor all of your bills and invoices in one system.
- Create personalized invoices that suit your organization.
- Notify you when your clients receive, view and pay their invoices.
Your shops can bill by hours worked, monitored services, microservices and retainers. If your shops cater family reunions, graduation parties or weddings, for example, you can use the billing accessory to immediately craft and deliver your elaborate invoices to your customers.
There are other admirable elements of a reliable billing and invoicing tool such as:
Credit Card Processing
Time and Expense Management
Keeping an eye on your employees’ work time and accrued expenses are crucial lifelines for your business because, in order to keep your shops afloat, you need to measure productivity and overall financial health with precision. A time and expense management tool, or separate time and expense tracking features, can provide a clear snapshot of your efficiency and insights into potential bottlenecks for any of your bakeries so they can get resolved quickly. There are some perks that come with a sleek time and expense management apparatus including:
- Depleting errors as you record time and expenses for reliable insights.
- Allotting for or avoiding employee overtime as you see a clear picture of your workers and resources.
- Less hassle for time and expense reporting when you use a uniform system to measure all of your expenses and employee work time.
You can develop web-based timesheets that are mobile-friendly, install automated email requests for missing timesheets and stay on top of billable and nonbillable hours.
For instance, your bakeries can monitor the expenses of different ingredients and cheesecake flavors based on how often they need to replenish them. If customers are ordering a lot of your blueberry swirl cheesecake and only a little bit of the plum and apricot cheesecake, you can consider devoting more of your funds into your blueberry swirl ingredients. You can also keep an eye on your employees. If one of your bakers keeps clocking in late, you’ll know with your real-time timesheet and take affirmative action right away.
Keep your eyes peeled for these discrete tools in a favorable time and expense management tool:
Multiple Time Trackers
Lastly, a viable collaboration module allows your team to effectively unite on projects to reach new heights in client satisfaction. Some distinct advantages that you reap with an effective team collaboration accessory include:
- Expeditiously accomplishing tasks to reduce time and unnecessary expenses.
- Stronger comradery among coworkers because they all gain an understanding of each other’s strengths, enabling your business to flow like a well-oiled machine.
- Sorting and storing all of your completed and future responsibilities in one place.
- Supervising every stage of workflows with frank messages and open cooperation with single attentive workers or whole teams.
Either your executive team or team of bakers in specific locations can share helpful media files and effectively communicate with each other. For example, if you need to come up with new cheesecake recipes, you can have your team harmoniously join forces to develop recipe ideas. They can send them to you for review. Also, if one of your branches has a big order of various cheesecakes, they can delegate different tasks to each baker so the order is accomplished on time.
When searching for a valuable team collaboration module, keep these features in mind:
Secure Data storage
Integrates with other Applications
More Questions to Ask
Choosing a software solution involves more than finding a solution with the PSA features you need most. You should consider a number of other factors as well to ensure your next system is a perfect fit.
What Industries Does This Vendor Specialize In?
Service-based companies exist in a multitude of industries. To cater to the diverse needs of professional service providers, vendors may specialize in one trade over another. There are PSA systems for law firms, marketing agencies, accounting firms, IT consultancies and more. While there are plenty of excellent systems with the flexibility to serve multiple professions, it’s worth a look to see if there’s a product uniquely made for your type of business.
What Contract Length Can I Expect?
If you’ve been using low-cost or free software to manage your business so far, you might not have given contract length much thought. Before you buy, make sure the vendor you’re considering offers a contract length you’re comfortable with. Some PSA software vendors require buyers to sign five-year contracts. If you’re looking for a solution with less commitment, be sure to ask your vendor what length you can expect from them.
What Deployment Method Does My Business Require?
Many large PSA software systems offer both deployments, but small vendors whose role is more niche typically offer cloud solutions only. Cloud-based products have a number of advantages over on-premise solutions, so it’s not usually an issue for most businesses. However, if your business lacks an adequate internet connection or you want maximum control over your system, on-premise may be for you.
When choosing the right PSA software, it’s important to keep team collaboration, accounting, resource management, time and expense management, billing and project management features in mind. These tools can assist you in enhancing your organization’s productivity and keeping your clientele happy. Ready to choose a solution right now? Check out our comparison guide to browse and pick the ideal PSA application.
Which PSA program requirements fascinate you? Are there any features you want to know more about that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!