Most service companies understand that project management is imperative and that having software to help keep tasks on track can be beneficial to delivering successful projects.
But many service businesses today are going a step beyond project management (PM) software and implementing Professional Services Automation (PSA) software instead, to manage the entire lifecycle of a project from sales through service delivery.
The Difference Between Project Management (PM) Software and Professional Services Automation (PSA) Software:
There are many similarities between project management software and PSA software. In fact, a PSA software will include project management features and functionality. The real difference is that PSA offers so much more, and helps service businesses manage all the ins and outs of their projects, including resource planning, scheduling, utilization tracking, time and expense tracking, cost management, approval process management, task scheduling and completion, team collaboration, client feedback and surveying functionality, and more.
To learn more about distinguishing project management software from PSA software, read our blog here: What’s the Difference Between PSA and PM Software?
Breaking Down The Use Cases For Professional Services Automation:
PSA is used for a wide variety of reasons and helps service businesses accomplish a number of things:
1. Managing Project Details
With PSA software, as soon as your sales team gets involved with the deal, they can start entering important details about the project requirements into the CRM. By choosing a PSA software that integrates with that CRM, or that is built native on the CRMs platform (i.e. Klient Software is built 100% native on Salesforce), your Services team will then have access to all of the project details as soon as the project is sold and handed over to them for implementation.
2. Task Scheduling and Completion
When it comes to successful project implementations, tracking tasks is one of the first things that typically comes to mind. That’s because there are usually a lot of moving pieces and steps that need to happen between the project start date and the go-live date. By using a PSA tool to track tasks, it’s easier for project managers to assign the different steps in project completion, set due dates, and track progress.
3. Creating Estimates and Identifying Timelines
When you’re preparing a quote, timeline, or project overview for a client, a PSA tool will help you give an educated prediction of the resources—time, employees, budget—needed to complete the task. When used properly, your PSA software takes the guesswork out of your projected timeline and instead leaves you with a blueprint from start to finish. This means more accurate estimating for budgets and profits as well as timelines. And, satisfied customers.
4. Employee Planning and Scheduling
An intricate part of project management is tackling resource allocation. It takes several moving pieces to take a project from start to finish, and the planning process requires identifying and assigning the best possible resources to the job. A great PSA Software will help you not only to plan who will be tasked with what—and when—it can also help you coordinate schedules between multiple team members who may need to work together on certain parts of the project. With Klient Software’s resource planning functionality, you can also select resources for a project based on assigned skills, geographical location, and more.
5. Forecasting and Reporting
Having data on hand about your projects is key to their success, as well as the success of future projects. Forecasting and reporting allows you to identify problem areas before they arise and keep projects on track and on budget, helping your service business be as profitable as possible. Detailed reporting in a PSA software will help you see where projects went off track in the past and help you learn from your mistakes moving forward.
Selling services is not like selling products…
When you sell a product, all you have to do is deliver it. As long as you have stock on-hand, you can fulfill the sale immediately. Sell a service and your work has only just begun. For example, let’s say you sold a 2-day consulting package to a client in another state. You have five consultants on staff. You (or someone in your organization) will have to find a time that works for both your client and for one of your consultants. Travel arrangements will have to be made. Lodging, meals, and a hundred other details will have to be sorted out. All to fulfill that one sale.
How PSA Software Is Different than CRM, ERP, and Project Management Software?
CRM software stops once you’ve made the sale. It’s great at managing a pipeline and estimating revenue. But if you sell services, a CRM system doesn’t help you schedule your human resources after a sale has been made. Project management or ERP software can help with the scheduling side of things. However that means you’ll be managing the same clients out of two completely different systems. When you make a sale, someone at your organization will have to transfer data from your CRM system into your project management or ERP system.
That’s a process that’s inefficient and likely to have errors. Professional Services Automation (PSA) software gives you one system to manage both prospects and clients, without having to transfer data between systems. It doesn’t mean you have to drop your current CRM provider. If you use Salesforce.com, you can simply add a service like ours, which works natively on the Salesforce platform.
Is PSA Software Right for My Company?
Here are 5 questions to ask:
1. Are “People” Required to Fulfill Your Product Orders?
The first thing is to be clear about what you’re selling. If you sell services directly, people are your product. In that situation, having PSA software will help you better manage both the sales process and the delivery of your services. If you sell products, you still might need to manage human resources to deliver those products. Do you have an install team? Do you require a certain number of hours of training or consulting for new customers? If so, your company could also benefit from Klient PSA Software.
2. Does Your Company Try to Accurately Predict Revenue and Expenses?
It’s not easy for a services company to accurately predict revenue and expenses. There are often many costs that go along with delivering a service, and those costs can vary widely depending on the client you’re working with. PSA software includes the ability to more easily predict both your revenue and expenses.
3. Does Your Company Use Salesforce.com?
Salesforce CRM is the world’s most popular CRM system. It’s AppExchange is also the leading enterprise software platform in the world. Companies using Salesforce CRM have access to thousands of applications that work natively on the Salesforce.com platform. That includes PSA software that works directly with your existing CRM database. Native Salesforce apps use the same infrastructure and database as your Salesforce CRM. They also have the same reliability and security standards.
4. Are Staffing and Turnover a Challenge?
Staffing and turnover are often sources of frustration for service providers. It can be difficult to know whether you really need to hire a new consultant or provider for your team. Will you have the work to justify the new hire? Or will you just be paying for someone to sit around all day while your sales team tries to fill the schedule? The best way to make good decisions about staffing is to have good data. PSA software can give you a comprehensive view of how many resources you’ll need in the coming months compared to what you have on staff.
5. Have Customers Ever Expressed Frustration While Trying to Schedule Delivery of Your Services?
Finally, there are your customers to consider. Is “scheduling” a constant headache? Have customers ever been frustrated trying to find a time that works for both their schedule and your team’s schedule? From a financial standpoint, logistics frustrations also kill referrals, which is usually a big driver of client acquisition for service companies. If scheduling is costing you referral business, PSA software can help your team deliver a smoother experience for everyone.
Ultimately, selling services is just like selling anything else—your customers have to see value in the service you deliver to them. PSA software can help your team deliver a great experience to all your clients. It can also help your management team make data-driven decisions about staffing and scheduling, instead of just trying to guess.
If you’d like to learn how to deliver more value for less expense in your service business, we’d love to show you more about how PSA software can help.
For small businesses, choosing a CRM can sometimes be a difficult task.
Many will want one that can effectively manage their pipeline and keep records of leads, opportunities, and closed won deals, but without requiring all of the complex functionality that comes with a larger CRM. Most small businesses considering a CRM will also say it needs to be easy to implement and without the hefty price tag that generally comes along with a more comprehensive CRM application.
Here’s a list of the top 5 CRM we recommend considering if you are a small business, and some suggestions for narrowing down which one is the best fit for you:
Most people are familiar with Salesforce CRM, but what many don’t know is that Salesforce also offers a light-weight CRM solution called Salesforce Essentials, which is geared towards smaller businesses looking to get started with a simple and easy-to-use CRM application. With Salesforce Essentials you can get started with using Salesforce for sales and customer support for up to 10 users for $25 USD/month. With Salesforce Essentials you can automatically pull data from your email, calendar, spreadsheets, multiple support channels, and more to get a single, 360-degree view of every customer and your whole business. It also offers a simple setup assistant and in-app tutorials to help you get up and running and become a Salesforce Essentials pro.
Another benefit of Salesforce Essentials? When your business grows, it’s an easy transition into the complete Salesforce CRM application where you can take advantage of the full functionality the Salesforce platform has to offer.
When people think HubSpot, they often think of a powerful Marketing Automation tool. But, HubSpot also offers a CRM that makes a great option for small businesses. And, it’s 100% free! HubSpot CRM is everything you need to organize, track, and nurture your leads and customers. It allows you to automate the tasks salespeople typically hate doing, and takes minutes to learn, rather than months like other CRMs can. That means doing more deals and less data entry. With HubSpot CRM you can enjoy up to 1,000,000 contacts, users, and storage for free, without any expiration date – whether you’re a team of 1 or 1,000.
One of the benefits of HubSpot CRM is that you can sync it with HubSpot’s marketing automation software so you’ll always know which content your lead has consumed and can take a more personalized approach with your sales strategy.
Zendesk products let customers connect with businesses on the channels they prefer. And it’s all managed in one place—so teams can track conversations and never lose the thread. The result is a better customer experience, right from the start. Zendesk also offers seamless integration with CRM software. The Zendesk Suite offers everything you need to let customer conversations flow seamlessly across channels, creating a better experience for both your business and your customers. It provides simplified workflows through an easy to navigate, contextual interface, regardless of the channel.
A great thing about Zendesk is that it easily integrates and connects with other applications your business is using: https://www.zendesk.com/apps/
Pipedrive is a sales CRM built around the concept of simplicity. For small businesses, it’s a win because of its simple design and refined elements that make it easy to double down and zero-in on actions that improve sales. Rated the easiest CRM tool to implement on technology review site G2Crowd, Pipedrive offers a simple solution without all of the complicated functions of other CRMs which tend to require a lot of training and education in order to use.
The main benefit of Pipedrive comes down to how simple and fast it is to set up and get running. And, for a small monthly fee, small businesses can use Pipedrive to manage their sales without spending big bucks on a CRM with functionality they do not need in order to be successful.
Zoho is a multichannel sales CRM with functionality ranging from email, live chat, telephony, social media, and more. Similar to Pipedrive, Zoho CRM is a lighter weight CRM for a small monthly fee. Small businesses love Zoho because of its breadth of features at an affordable price. With Zoho you can connect in real time with customers and prospects, across all channels. SalesSignals notifies you when a hot prospect is browsing your site, reading your email campaign, or engaging with your brand on social media, allowing you to close sales using helpful insights and data.
Pipeline management with Zoho allows your team to identify quality leads, decide who to assign them to, discover the right deals to follow up on, and exceed revenue targets. Plus, you will get much better visibility into your sales pipeline.
Did you know?
Klient can integrate with these CRMs that small businesses are choosing, as well as a wide range of other applications including accounting systems.
For small businesses that sell professional services, Klient PSA can be the perfect addition to your team. You can use your ideal small business CRM for marketing and sales, and seamlessly integrate with Klient PSA which will manage your projects from sales right through delivery.
Learn more about Klient Software’s integrations here: https://klient.com/integrations/
How does Professional Services Automation (PSA) differ from project management (PM) software? And how can you choose the right comprehensive solution to run your business?
Here are a few key differentiators between PSA and PM.
1. PSA Puts Customers at the Center Instead of Projects
With project management software, the emphasis is on projects. PM software helps you track tasks and collaborate so employees can keep up with their day-to-day work. Your customers may see the end result of your internal team’s work, but that could be incidental. A PM tool could be purchased solely for the benefit of your employees, regardless of how it affects your customer experience. Professional service automation (PSA) puts customers at the center. The focus is on optimizing the client’s experience, not just on tracking individual tasks.
Because the system has multiple touchpoints with the customer’s experience, employees have greater access to customer information across the board, while customers feel more taken care of across the entire scope of your business.
2. PSA Connects the Front Office to Sales and Service Delivery
Beside providing your customer with an better end-to-end experience, a PSA system provides your employees with much better visibility across the entire service delivery pipeline. The front office, the back office, and every service employee in between can see what the other departments have contributed to the customer’s account, whether that’s contact information, projects working and delivered, or expectations for future services.
3. PSA Integrates Seamlessly From CRM to Accounting
Many PSA or PM systems can integrate with your CRM. But many of them also aren’t easily set up, a problem that usually results in service delivery being run separately from the CRM. A great PSA will include a strong PM feature set and integrate closely with your CRM. Klient Software is built natively within Salesforce, meaning integration isn’t a concern — it’s built to run together from the outset.
From the moment a customer is entered into the CRM as a contact, everything can run seamlessly with the PSA.
4. PSA Generates Revenue
Professional services automation systems are particularly helpful for generating revenue, for a few reasons. If you have billable hours or services and you’re using a Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) system, having a PSA system to help you adjust profitability, margin, bookings, and revenue on the fly can lead to easier and greater revenue increases.
Additionally, SPI Research recently conducted an ROI study on professional services automation. The results found that a $200,000 investment in software and implementation could lead to nearly $23 million in increased revenue and reduced costs, based on a firm of 172 people — an ROI of 115 times the initial investment.
5. PSA Includes Many Other Modules Beyond Project Management
Professional services automation isn’t just different from project management — it encompasses it. But PSA also encompasses many other services and modules. This includes (but is not limited to) time entry, billing, invoicing, CPQ, proposals, document management, expense tracking, calendar management, revenue recognition, forecasting, and customer communities.
Because PSA includes so many more options than just project management, it’s capable of replacing many more systems than just PM.
Conclusion: PSA Is an End-to-End Service Delivery Solution
The right PSA system for your organization can provide or replace a PM-only tool while providing many additional solutions for your business. And because all of these tools work together within one PSA, everyone at your organization will have greater access to your customers’ information.
That means more profitable client engagements, increased customer retention, and more revenue over the life of the customer, just by using the right PSA system.