Part 6: PM Software is from Mars…or is it Venus? What is Professional Services Automation

15 June 2015
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Professional Services Automation
Continuing on in this multi-part series, with parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 complete, we now arrive to the discussion of Professional Services Automation software.

In short, Professional Services Automation (PSA) can be considered like an ERP software for service organizations.

PSAs are a separate entity from all other project management softwares, since they are specifically designed for the service industry. It is a solution that will help RUN a professional service business from end to end.

This type of software came to exist for the purpose of linking the front office of a service business (the clients), to the back office (the accounting). For a long time there existed tools to manage both sides of the business but not all of it; hence the emergence of PSA software, which binds them all together and manages the entire life cycle of the service organization.

According to Genius Project’s Director of Product Strategy, a PSA “manages the entire life cycle of service-based projects from sales (CRM), project delivery, time, billing and invoicing fed back into Accounting.”

To further drive the point home, it is of course important to understand what types of businesses are considered professional services. Here is a comprehensive list of examples:

  • Accounting, Auditing, and Bookkeeping Services
  • Adjustment and Collection Services
  • Architectural Services
  • Business Consulting Services, NEC
  • Commercial Economic, Sociological, and Educational Research
  • Commercial Physical and Biological Research
  • Credit Reporting Services
  • Engineering Services
  • Facilities Support Management Services
  • Management Consulting Services
  • Management Services
  • Noncommercial Research Organizations
  • Public Relations Services
  • Secretarial and Court Reporting Services
  • Surveying Services
  • Testing Laboratories

As you can see, professional services companies don’t sell products, they sell projects; ie. the deployment of a service. With this in mind, it becomes clear that a PSA software must have the ability to assist these professionals with project and resource management for their client projects.

To take a very basic example of a client service, let’s use an automotive mechanic. The process usually starts with bringing a car in for assessment, getting a quote for the work to be done, and then paying for the services upon completion.

The major difference between Professional Service Organizations lies in the complexity of the service projects, where tracking and approvals are required at several stages along the way. What makes a service organization more complex is attributed to many factors. First and foremost, is the management of stakeholders, which tend to include committees, customers & project managers, at the very least. The projects generally require a multitude of services and a substantial amount of time for completion; as such, detailed schedules with tasks & milestones are a necessity. Moreover, the high-value nature of the projects trigger clients to request detailed descriptions and breakdowns of the work completed and a demand for timely delivery.

A typical PSA should include the following features to be considered effective:

  • Project Tracking
  • Document Management
  • Time and Expense Tracking
  • Dashboards and Reporting
  • Resource Management
  • Project Invoicing

These powerful features are linked to the accounting, payroll and CRM (customer relationship management) systems to improve efficiency of the operations; all the while increasing revenue and decreasing delayed billing.

See how Genius Project can address your Professional Service needs and requirements.

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