PSA Software Buyer's Guide
The Best PSA Software is All About Streamlining Administrative Tasks
By Kim O’Shaughnessy, Marketing Research Lead Editor
When you think of ways to provide your clients with the best service possible, you probably don’t imagine yourself spending half your day or more on administrative tasks. Yet, for many professional services providers, this is their daily routine. Professional services automation software (PSA) helps you more efficiently manage your business and reduce time spent on tedious but necessary tasks.
- Professional services software centralizes information and automates processes for services organizations, much like an ERP would.
- PSA tools provide greater visibility, more effective reporting, improved billing and better integration of processes.
- PSA systems provide a series of basic features such as time tracking, project management and resource management. However, there are additional features outside the standard package.
- When comparing vendors, PSA buyers need to come up with a requirements checklist and a list of questions to ask (examples listed below).
What This Guide Covers
See how the top 10 leaders fare against the most common key PSA requirements
Professional services automation software has been described as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for professional services. This is a valid comparison, a PSA solution provides essential business automation for professional services organizations, such as law firms and accounting partnerships. Essentially, PSA offers an integration service, endeavoring to link and aggregate all industry-specific metrics in order to gain a better understanding of operations and, as a result, improve efficiency and profitability.
Project management tools help users understand the timeline of their projects in relation to each other.
Professional services automation tools offer a wide range of functionality, but key components include project management, resource management, and time and expense management. Software in the PSA category is targeted at professional services organizations to help them successfully undertake those tasks that are common to every project. These tasks may include managing project milestones and schedules, allocating resources to projects to optimize personnel utilization and keeping track of incurred expenses for billing purposes.
PSA systems allow users to view project metrics across all projects using the analytical dashboard.
This covers the key components of professional services software, but there are other PSA modules that include support for customer relationship management (CRM) to assist with tracking sales opportunities, help/service desk software as well as data analysis and reporting. We’ll take a more in-depth look at all the features of PSA software, but first we need to set some goals.
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Now that you know what a PSA system does, you need to decide if it’s the right software for your business. This can be done by setting goals for your professional services business, such as what you’d like to achieve with a PSA solution in place. The following four goals are what PSA systems are meant to help businesses achieve:
Improve project management and demand visibility
|Managing your projects all from one PSA system saves you the time it takes to continually switch applications to find the information you need. It also prevents duplicate entry of data, since you only need to enter project and client data into the software once. Because all your information is in one place, you’re provided with greater visibility into your processes. This allows you to see where your services are greatest in demand and where you could afford to spend more resources.|
Track project costs and improve reporting
|Greater visibility allows you to track your project costs more thoroughly. With more accurate data in hand, your PSA tools can provide better analysis and reports. And although many professional services firms don’t use analysis on a daily basis, these reports are extremely useful for making strategic business decisions that affect your future.|
Improve billing management and invoicing
|Another goal many professional services firms would like to achieve is to improve their billing and invoicing process. Creating invoices for the same service multiple times for different clients can be tedious, to say the least. PSA software automates and provides a centralized hub to manage your invoices and the accounts they’re linked to.|
Improve overall integration of processes
|Many PSA buyers are looking to integrate their processes. As mentioned earlier, PSA systems are great for those wishing to consolidate multiple processes into one software. This, again, gives you a greater overall view of your business, resources and clients.|
In order to achieve all these PSA related goals, you’ll need to create a detailed requirements list. A requirements list is how your professional services organization keeps track of all the features and functions your team needs from a PSA system. It’s important to be meticulous when determining your requirements so your team can perform their tasks more efficiently, but also so you aren’t paying for unnecessary features. Use our requirements template to create your own customizable checklist.
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Basic Features & Functionality
The core features of PSA software are project management, resource management, and time and tracking management. But within these broad categories are many professional services automation tools that firms can utilize on a daily basis. The following are the basic tools you can find across most PSA solutions.
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Advanced Features & Functionality
Beyond the basic features, there are several additional capabilities you may want to consider including in your final implementation. The following features can be beneficial to professional services providers but aren’t as common as the basic features listed above.
|Accounting||Although billing and invoicing is a standard across most PSA tools, a complete accounting solution is harder to come by. If you need software that can manage accounts payable, accounts receivable and payroll processing, you need to look closely for these features. Alternatively, you could always use a standalone accounting software in addition to your PSA system.|
|Quotes and Proposal Management||While automated quotes and proposals are a popular way to streamline many of the tedious tasks a professional service provider faces, this feature is not standard across all PSA systems. Many top software use third-party software providers to supply this feature, with others not supporting it at all. To make sure you have the features you need, make sure to include quotes and proposal management in your requirements list. Software equipped with this functionality allows users to configure quote templates for recurring or straightforward services. This PSA tool also recognizes fixed and flexible pricing models.|
|Marketing Management||Many professional services providers rely heavily on marketing to get their business recognized. PSA systems that include marketing functionality allow users to manage campaigns and nurture leads through the sales cycle. If a prospective PSA vendor doesn’t offer this functionality, they may work with other CRM vendors to provide these types of tools.|
|Customer Management||Another important function to running a successful professional services firm is managing your current clients in an organized way. Customer management tools allow users to see clients’ history, including previous transactions, proposals, queries and other relevant information. Some PSA systems can be configured to send users alerts when a client has an issue or if a follow-up is due. Through customer management, users can also send out surveys and messages to clients.|
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Compare PSA Software
As with the majority of software selection, the process begins in-house with a close examination of your business needs. No two professional services businesses are exactly alike, even though there will be many similarities across the same industry. Focusing on what is unique in your circumstance and ensuring that those priorities are met is an important consideration. This approach has a greater opportunity to meet your needs and produce a successful conclusion than allowing companies too much weight in your decision.
Then, once you’ve built a list of criteria, you can go back and look at vendors with a better focus. Our PSA vendor comparison report uses an algorithm to evaluate and rank top professional services automation software according to popular requirements. You can use this tool to compare the best PSA software on the market and see how they fulfill the requirements you’ve gathered in conjunction with PSA pricing and any other miscellaneous costs.
Questions to Ask Vendors
Once you’ve thoroughly performed a professional services automation software comparison of possible vendors, you need to decide on a list of ideally three to five companies to contact. Next, come up with a list of questions you’d like to ask each PSA company. This will help you think critically about which vendor is the best option beyond the features they offer.
How easy is it to use your product?
Many professional services organizations are small businesses, and as such, they don’t usually have the resources large corporations do when it comes to teaching staff about new professional services software. Make sure that when you’re speaking to a vendor, you ask what level of expertise is necessary to use the program and if you need to dedicate staff to regular maintenance.
What mobile capabilities do you provide?
Depending on the type of service you provide, you may be interested in the mobility of the product. If you are, make sure you ask what operating systems and devices their PSA system supports. Many vendors have a website optimized for mobile devices and will claim to support any device with internet connection. It could be helpful to verify this during a demo using a device you already depend on. PSA mobile software is also great to use if your staff works remotely.
Some software offers different levels of capability on a mobile interface, so make sure you demo the mobile version.
What deployment methods do you offer?
Many companies today don’t have a preference when it comes to deployment, but it’s important to give it a little bit of thought anyway. Cloud PSA tools are usually pretty easy to come by. But for some professional services businesses with extremely limited internet access or privacy concerns, on-premise may be the most beneficial option. Review what your needs are and verify that your potential vendors can offer what you’re looking for.
Do you have a history working with professional services organizations like mine?
Make sure the vendor you choose has history working with companies like yours. Some vendors like to specialize and cater to a specific type of services firm, and then there are vendors that provide broad PSA tools that can be utilized by many industries and organization sizes. There is professional services automation for small business, PSA software for startups, PSA for lawyers and much more. Whichever way, you may want to ask for their successful implementation rate with companies like yours and see if they are willing to provide any references.
What does the future look like for your PSA product?
Software implementation and investment tend to be a drain on a company’s resources, even if for a short while, before they start to improve business and profits. Therefore, you want to make sure your vendor is committed to offering the best product for as long as your professional services business will utilize it. Along with asking them directly, take a look at their other offerings. Are they a PSA-focused company or does it seem like they’re stirring up any product that can drive a quick profit?
What is your product support like?
This is important to ask if you anticipate needing some help when it comes to onboarding your employees into your PSA solution. Many vendors offer telephone and chat support either as an additional fee or as part of your pricing package. Ask what hours support is available and to what extent. You don’t want to be fighting with your software during your busiest season. Some vendors offer comprehensive courses your employees can sign up for as well.
Expert recommendations and analysis of the top software
By now, it should be clear how a PSA solution can enhance the profitability of a professional services organization. Professional services automation software contributes to all aspects of the delivery process to help increase a company’s delivery and revenue efficiency.
The future of services automation will, undoubtedly, enhance business intelligence capabilities, making delivery of services even faster and more efficient. All of this is marking a new era of exceptional service. Whether it is managing the supply and demand of resources or automating the billing and accounting process, firms that use PSA software will be able to achieve much more with less.
NetSuite ERP provides businesses in a wide variety of industries with the tools to automate and centralize processes across departments. This includes tasks such as financial management, distribution, CRM and supply chain management. This solution is cloud-based and is available whenever and wherever, as long as you have an internet connection. Additionally, this tool is customizable and has a relatively low cost of ownership due to its automated software maintenance. It provides real-time data insights across workflows and includes the option to build dashboards that are unique to your business.
Wrike is a cloud-based application that helps users manage distributed projects and promotes team collaboration. With this program, teams can align priorities and speed up execution to boost business results.With a strong focus on equipping teams to succeed, this vendor provides a robust suite of features that cater to marketing, creative, product development, business operations and professional services teams. It’s equipped with enterprise-level security and is designed to scale at a team and organizational level.
ConnectWise Manage is software for businesses in the IT sector that are seeking to develop consistency across the organization. It also enables users to manage accounts and other service-oriented tasks efficiently. The program contains centralized data as well as account information to increase internal visibility and to reduce duplicate work.It aims to streamline elements such as billing, client communications, procurement and project management. It’s available to IT businesses of all sizes and can be deployed either on-premise or cloud-based.
Mavenlink is a comprehensive, cloud-based application that enables services businesses to manage and execute projects at each stage of the lifecycle. By uniting project and resource management, team collaboration, accounting, and business intelligence, it enables organizations to streamline planning and delivery. Includes the option to purchase expert services that cater to companies in the professional services space. When choosing the primary package, businesses work with a team comprised of a manager, a business consultant, a BI consultant, a technical consultant and a training expert.
Oracle ERP provides a single location to manage and look at business processes across an organization. It allows users to visualize real-time information using dashboards. It also contains advanced financial management tools to streamline workflows and improve revenue.Can be used to help ensure regulatory compliance with industry and government standards. It also allows users to keep track of projects that they are working on and to allocate resources. Can improve vendor negotiations and reduce communication issues through its centralization of information.
Kimble PSA sheds light on potential risks, centralizes project delivery, extends predictions on the current and future health of a user's company and ensures supply and demand match so users can maximize their use of resources. Foresight analytics, billing and CRM are some of Kimble's top features. This solution also offers an add-on product called the Kimble Resourcing Analyzer. The resourcing analyzer consists of packaged dashboards and data flows that extract and gauge transactional data. It offers visible insights on historic and future resourcing challenges.
Sage Intacct gives users control over more basic accounting aspects such as general ledger, accounts payable and accounts receivable. However, it also includes more advanced capabilities that allow customers to individualize the solution based on specific needs. The program enables the creation of configurable dashboards and customized reports.This system is available for deployment both on-premise and through the cloud, making it an effective solution for a variety of companies. It offers role-based functionality to protect the security of information and to ensure that employees only access information that is relevant to them and that they should be privy to.
Clarizen is a project management and professional services software that helps to increase collaboration and mange tasks across a business. Uses real-time data and dashboards to keep employees and managers up-to-date on the status of various projects. Its visualization abilities allow you to track KPIs and make informed insights quickly. The program can also integrate with platforms such as Box, ServiceNow and Jira, which allows you to connect the tools that your business already uses. A mobile app where you can interact with customers, look at workflows and change task status from your Android or iOS device is also available.
Krow is a platform designed for large corporations and small businesses. The enterprise version is built on Salesforce and enables users to work side by side with clientele for ideal services from the early sales stage to service delivery. The small business version is intended for startups and entrepreneurs. Users can manage timesheets, expenses and client billing and monitor projects with one system. As a whole, its objectives are to extend effortless customer experience, visible communication between team members and clients for guaranteed alignment of expectations and transparent project health statuses. Project management, team collaboration and time management are some of its key features.
BQE Core is a solution that measures every aspect of a business such as earned value, cash flow, job costs, project margins, client profitability and more through artificial intelligence. Users gain access to crucial data on all devices from virtually any location Users can establish automatic invoices for clients, conduct project estimations, design and deliver reports and monitor the performance of their workers. BQE Core also offers integrations with Google Drive, MYOB AccountRight, QuickBooks and Amazon among others.
AbacusLaw is a legal practice administration and accounting platform ideal for all types of law practices. It’s a suitable option for specialized law practitioners that focus on things like personal injury, criminal defense, civil litigation, estate planning, family law, insurance law and elder law. Users receive crucial case and client intel, ensure deadlines are met and gain total transparency in their practice. A few of AbacusLaw's capabilities include time tracking, case administration, form creation, billing and scheduling.
CS Professional Suite is a tax and accounting solution with individual components that effortlessly work together to share data and methods throughout every workflow and boost productivity. It is intended for small or enterprise-level accounting firms. Some of its key capabilities include industry adaptability, flexible reporting, multi-state processing, document management, trial balance capabilities and more.
Projector PSA aides groups in managing and streamlining the delivery procedure from start to finish. It handles initial planning, project management, resource scheduling, time and expense tracking, budget management and invoicing. It can integrate with CRM and accounting solutions to coordinate and boost workflows. Projector PSA's modules include project accounting, resource scheduling, performance and satisfaction.
Xledger is a cloud-based financial management platform that combines multi-dimensional reporting and devolved budgeting in a single unified module. It automates processes such as bookkeeping, invoicing, asset management and bank reconciliation. It supports multi-entity, multi-currency transactions, consolidating data for all the entities in the user’s enterprise.For charities and nonprofits, it combines donor management and fund accounting. It helps professional services organizations automate and streamline processes through the entire project lifecycle, starting from workflow and ending with payment processing. Users can grow without limits by tracking costs and maximizing profits.
FinancialForce PSA offers users complete clarity over their business' sales, finances and services. It enables users to manage clients, team members, projects and financial information in one platform. Users receive uniform data points so they can better monitor resources and make accurate estimates. Sales engagement, project management, time and expenses and resource management are some of FinancialForce PSA's top capabilities.
Aderant Expert is a comprehensive suite of integrated legal software applications that helps law and professional services firms better serve their clients, manage their operations and maximize their profitability. It helps in managing operations across your entire firm and support key decision making with a comprehensive, agile and user-friendly financial and practice management system
Available on-premises or online, Sage 100 ERP (formerly Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200) can deliver what you need—from up to the minute accurate financial, manufacturing, and distribution data, to remote access through the cloud for field sales and service teams—you’ll have visibility into your operations so you can grow your business and achieve your goals.
Beyond Software is a powerful, easy-to-use, web-based professional services automation software, designed specifically for project-centric businesses. Facilitates your organizations ability to manage and execute around your projects, by connecting your project and financial accounting which provides insight across your entire organization, so projects are delivered on-time and on-budget, allowing you to maximize project profitability. Allows you to keep a tight rein on all aspects of your projects by monitoring the status and profitability in real-time. Enables your project managers to balance and optimize staff utilization across your organization to increase revenue per employee, client satisfaction and your organization’s profitability.
NetSuite SRP provides a comprehensive, end-to-end services resource planning (SRP) solution that supports an entire services business. From customer relationship management (CRM) and professional services automation (PSA), to accounting/enterprise resource planning (ERP), NetSuite SRP supports the complete bid-to-bill lifecycle with a powerful Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) suite.
Built on Ramco VirtualWorks, Ramco ERP on Cloud is one of the most advanced and revolutionary enterprise application assembly and delivery platform, that enables users to get a 360-degree view of their business, anytime, from anywhere by putting all their business functions on to one single platform on the cloud and automating and integrating them, end-to-end. With this unified view of business, they can further drive innovation across the value chain, improve efficiency, and reduce costs and time to market. Also, this entire suite of product is accessible over the internet, which gives them the freedom to access information from any part of the globe at the click of a browser button, whether from a laptop, a PDA, mobile phone or a tablet PC.
Changepoint PSA software provides services organizations with a structured process for analyzing, tracking and forecasting client opportunities and their requirements. Optimize resource utilization and retain satisfied clients. By combining resource management, project management and project portfolio management capabilities, Changepoint’s PSA software provides a standardized structure to ensure services projects stay on schedule, remain within budget and address customer needs.
aACE is a comprehensive tool that seamlessly supports the sales, operations, and accounting needs of SMEs. As the letters in our name suggest, it unifies accounting, customer relationship management, and enterprise resource planning into an integrated package. Functionality includes inventory, order management, production, shipping receiving, and scheduling. Built on the FileMaker platform, aACE can be customized easily, efficiently, and cost effectively. Solves the inefficiencies and lost opportunities that arise from a software suite not fitted carefully to a small or mid-sized business’ unique needs.
Unit4 Business World On! enables service-centric organizations in the public and private sectors to gain a significant advantage over their peers with this ERP. Its leading-edge architecture facilitates faster innovation at a lower cost and with less disruption. The result is more opportunity and smarter operations.
Infor CloudSuite™ Business delivers an integrated ERP solution that provides deep visibility into every business facet, from financials and human resources to supply chain, sales, projects, and customer relationship management. With easy-to-use collaboration and analytic tools, your team can make better decisions faster—exactly when and where they're needed. Strengthened with security and expertise of Amazon Web Services, your business will stay "forever modern," always equipped with the latest software without the hassle of upgrades or expensive new hardware.
BroadPoint is the largest Microsoft Dynamics Gold-Certified GP, SL, AX and CRM partner in the Mid-Atlantic. In addition, BroadPoint is also a NetSuite solution provider. Delivers ERP, CRM and membership management tools to nonprofits, associations, professional services firms and over 400 clients across the country
Project Service Automation automation capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) provide an end-to-end solution that helps sales and delivery teams engage customers and deliver billable projects on time and within budget
Tenrox Project Workforce Management helps manage your projects from initiation, to execution, to chargeback, to close. It provides a best-of-breed tool for project management, time expense management, resource management project financials to meet the challenges of managing your globally dispersed business units and project workers who collaborate on projects from multiple remote locations and time zones.
Unanet provides project-driven organizations with resource management, budgeting forecasting, project management, timesheets, expense reports, project accounting, billing, workforce collaboration, CRM, and financials with cost pool calculations, in one integrated system.
Stafiz is an ERP dedicated to consulting companies. It aims at being simple, efficient, customizable and cheap. Small to medium-sized companies too often have multiple softwares to manage different parts of the business : with Stafiz, everything is managed in the same system, from staffing to timesheets, projects, holidays, recruitment, billing,… Everything is super customizable : get all the functionalities you need (your processes must be totally respected, that’s our commitment), and we hide what you’re not using.
Meet with SAP HANA – Next generation database drives SAP Business One.SAP HANA is the in-memory computing platform for SAP Business One that supercharges the application performance for speed and allows you to analyze massive amounts of data in real-time. SAP Business One powered by SAP HANA eliminates layers of complexities and unnecessary business costs found in legacy IT architecture so your business can run smarter, faster and simpler.
Sage 300cloud (formerly known as Sage ERP Accpac) assists businesses in managing their finance and bookkeeping needs. It has handy accounts receivable, accounts payable and general ledger accessories to ease routine processes. Companies with intricate corporate structures like multi-entities, franchises and companies with international subsidiaries seek out Sage 300cloud because its general ledger accessory has robust consolidation features and easily ciphers intercompany transfersIts application programming interface (API) and software development kit (SDK) components make it an effective option. It can scale and extends its capabilities to customers in several industries.
Sage Intacct provides professional-strength, on-demand financial management and accounting applications for small and mid-sized businesses. Get the same power, functionality, reporting and security that traditional legacy on-premise systems provide, but with significantly lower total cost of ownership (TCO) due to the subscription based on-demand model. Sage Intacct allows you to do everything from basic accounting to complex deferred revenue management and renewal maintenance.
Atera is a remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool that supports help desks, remote support, reporting, ticketing, and customer satisfaction surveying and billing. It is an all-in-one SaaS for managed service providers (MSP) in a single module. It has a single dashboard that allows users to create tickets, run scripts, manage alerts, remotely connect, start and stop services and more. It offers complete control and visibility for networks with its remote monitoring software. It averts system failure for multi-site operations to reduce IT support staff. It creates alerts for IT professionals and informs them of potential crises. RMM is essential for IT professionals and MSPs as it helps users reduce expensive help desk calls.
Accelo is a service operations automation tool that allows users to run their business, automate processes and streamline client and service operations with a single cloud-based app. It lets users manage and automate critical professional services. It allows users to leverage enterprise-level sales, client billing, project management, sales and time tracking. It provides complete visibility of projects, clients and finances on any device and supports reporting and team collaboration. It focuses on the professional service sector, including accountants, engineers, consultants, architects, designers, MSPs and more. It is designed for small service businesses. It unifies disparate systems and gives insight into the health of a users’ company in real-time. It also helps users maintain long-term client relationships, stay competitive, nurture prospects, collaborate on projects and be transparent, boosting profitability.
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