Table of contents

Table of contents

Businesses seeking the right PSA tool will quickly discover that they are faced with a “good news, bad news” scenario. Let us start with the former. The good news is that there are plenty of choices available.

By 2025, the size of the global professional service automation software market is projected to hit USD 16 billion, which represents a CAGR of 11.7 percent between 2020-2025.

This growth is fueled by the overall explanation of the global professional services sector, which is expected to climb from USD $5.428 trillion in 2021 to $7.063 trillion (about $22,000 per person in the US) in 2025 – which is a CAGR of 7.9 percent.

Indeed, businesses searching for the right PSA solution will not face a dearth of options to explore. On the contrary, they will encounter an abundance of possibilities.

On the other hand, with so many choices, finding the best possible professional services solution can be excessively time consuming, complex, and overwhelming.

Fortunately, this guide can help address these needs and more as your organization seeks the right solution for your business.

The Ultimate Guide to Services Automation

Gain crucial insight into the changing services automation landscape.

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Planview’s Professional Services Automation Solution Demo: Drive profitability and streamline quote-to-cash

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Consult Credible Research Organizations

The easiest and best place to start is by consulting various research organizations that offer data, insights, and reviews on selecting the right PSA tool for your business. There are several credible and vendor-neutral organizations, including:

  • Service Performance Insight (SPI), a global research, consulting and training organization that offers advice on improving productivity and profit for professional services. One of SPIs most valuable research tools is its annual PS Maturity Model, which has emerged into the industry’s leading performance tool.
  • The Technology Services & Industry Association (TSIA) is a global research and advisory organization that offers an array of research sources such as eBooks, reports, white papers, and more to help businesses improve their strategic, financial, and operational performance.
  • Gartner, one of the world’s leading technology research and consulting firms, takes a deeper into various leading project and portfolio management (PPM) software solutions. As we will explore further in this guide, robust PPM capabilities are a core part of comprehensive, enterprise-grade software.

Network with Industry Experts

Acquiring a PSA tool is not a one-time transaction. Rather, it is the start of what should be a beneficial and evolving long-term relationship with your chosen vendor. As such, it is critical to go “behind the scenes” and discover what customers are saying about a vendor. This may include networking with other industry professionals and peers to learn more about a vendor’s commitment to customer support. You want a vendor who will be an active partner that helps you take the shortest path to value and supports your long-term success.

Business-based social media platforms like LinkedIn and Spiceworks can be ideal sources. When asking for feedback and advice, focus on aspects like functionality, versatility, scalability, ease-of-implementation, end user adoption, total cost of operation, and vendor support.

Identify Your Organizational Needs

Once you have gathered credible advice and fact, consider shifting the focus to your business in order to better evaluate your internal processes and structure. Key questions that you may want to consider include the following:

  • Where and why are we underperforming? You want to clarify and confirm whether any underperformance issues are rooted in ineffective PSA tools (e.g., spreadsheets), or due to immature processes.
  • Do we need to increase maturity in specific areas? For example, do we want to move from manual resource management to a structured centralized resource management model?
  • Should increasing maturity in one or more areas be part of our improvement plan? If so, how will this solution support these changes?

Answering these pivotal questions will help ensure that you are setting up your business for success.

Focus on Three Core Objectives

Planview provides full visibility into services organizational capacity and planning.
Planview provides full visibility into services organizational capacity and planning.

Once you have identified and prioritized your capability needs as an organization, take a closer look at the marketplace, and start identifying potential solutions that deserve a spot on your shortlist. At a fundamental level, it is best to ensure deeper consideration of your professional services solution keeping in mind the following three objectives:

Centralize key processes and optimize the end-to-end lifecycle profitably

Your PSA solution should centralize all functions and operations for the full end-to-end lifecycle of services engagements (a.k.a. from quote-to-cash). This should include pipeline management, financial management, project management, resource management, change management, reporting, and business processes.

Support engagement confidence by successfully delivering business outcomes for customers

On the post-pandemic business landscape, customers expect milestones to be reached sooner and deliverables to be achieved faster. To satisfy this expectation, your PSA tool should integrate project and resource management, configurable workflow automation, and collaboration so that you can deliver projects using multiple work methodologies, and at an accelerated pace. It should also enable you to proactively resolve capacity and staffing issues that impact your ability to deliver.

Generate full, comprehensive visibility that drives better and faster decision-making

Real estate professionals say that the three most important aspects of a desirable property are location, location, and location. Well, in professional services delivery, the most important aspects of a successful engagement are visibility, visibility, and visibility.

As such, your PSA tool should improve the velocity and accuracy of decision-making and business outcomes by generating real-time transparency into engagements and the full quote-to-cash cycle. It should also establish an authoritative system of record that centralizes and automates data and activities and provides leaders with actionable intelligence regarding both engagement health status, and operational performance metrics.

Read next: PSA Software for MSP Firms: Advice on Choosing the Right Solution

Identify the Essential PSA Features

To assist your evaluation process, below we have provided a checklist to help you organize and prioritize your needs, so that you can weigh and score available capabilities based on what is most important to your organization.

Project management

  • Integrated project management tools for creating, editing and managing all tasks and assignments in a manner that drives financial flexibility and greater control.
  • Process workflows that use the power of intelligent automation to support project standards and governance.
  • Project templates that allow delivery teams to rapidly get started so they can deliver value faster – which as we noted above in this guide is what today’s customers insist upon.

Resource management

  • Multiple skills and expertise-based views to assign and align resources to the right work, at the right time.
  • Dynamic Gantt charts that provide a timeline distribution of availability details that impact resources.
  • Access control that restricts access to specific resources within a particular workgroup as needed (note: in addition to keeping things clearer and more organized, this is also an important information security consideration).
  • Quick search capacity that rapidly finds resources based on filters such as assigned work, qualifications, etc.
  • Contract management

  • Customizable contract definition tools that create financial and billing rules (including rates).
  • Document sharing so authorized stakeholders can access and share proposals, agreements, change orders, NDAs, and other documents.
  • Activity trackers to evaluate actual performance vs, prospects, leads, and pipeline opportunities, while consistently staying in alignment with customer expectations.
  • Lifecycle

  • Carding components that centralize and organize all key customer lifecycle information.
  • Robust contact management tools, which are extremely important given that dozens of new contacts can enter/exit a long-term engagement.
  • Quote-to-cash project lifecycle management tools that help your business identify and capitalize on all opportunities.
  • Project summaries that reveal the health of your customers’ lifecycle based on the most important metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • PSA tool opportunity and delivery

  • Forecasting tools that generate in-depth financial visibility into contractual expectation, and which help plan future resource needs.
  • Tools to create budgets and specify anticipated services, products, and expenses for an engagement.
  • The ability to designated multiple rates for the same resource (e.g., “Project Manager”) on the same project.
  • Configurable workflows that support consistent, profitable services delivery.
  • Financial management

    • Tools that generate real-time insights into actual and projected revenue and variances.
    • Tools to accurately track recognition revenue based on milestones (including project completion).
    • Time and expense tracking tools that support the timely submission and approval invoices.
    • Tools that ensure projects are tasked and staged appropriately to meet financial objectives.
    • Multi-currency and taxation options.

    Best Practices for Implementation & Adoption

    Once you have identified the right PSA tool for your business, naturally you want to take the shortest path to value. Below we provide some best practices for implementation and adoption.

    Ensuring integration readiness

    Your PSA solution must integrate with other critical operational systems in your ecosystem, such as ERP, CRM, and HCM. You want to ensure that these other systems are ready to be part of the broader quote-to-cash lifecycle.

    Examine training materials

    Ensure your PSA tool is supported by a range of training materials, which ensure that your business has a successful integration experience. Your chosen vendor should play a key role here, both in terms of helping you develop a customized training plan (i.e., who should be trained and in what priority), and supplying resources (e.g., videos, how-to guides, etc.).

    Provide a managed change rollout

    Ensure that you have a strong organizational change management (OCM) plan in place before you start the implementation process.

    Gaining executive buy-in

    After prioritizing your needs and confirming that you are prepared for successful implementation, focus on getting executive buy-in. Here are some tips:

    • Speak a language that everyone can recognize. Avoid jargon and be wary of acronyms. For example, PSA stands for professional service automation – but also for public service announcement.
    • Be clear about benefits and risks. Remember: there is no such thing as risk-free change and implying otherwise will damage credibility vs. enhances it.
    • Build support by canvassing ideas. Do not just walk into the boardroom without first having some meaningful – and often informal and “off-the-record” chats with colleagues. In addition to gaining valuable insights, you will help more people take ownership.
    • Take ownership! Most decision-makers are going to push back. Be prepared for objections and criticisms and make it clear that you – and your team members – are confident that adopting a specific solution is the right decision.

    Read next: Guide to Professional Services Automation and PSA Software

    The Right PSA Tool Will Allow Your Organization to Grow

    The world of professional services deliver is experiencing transformative change, driven by convergence of multiple forces:

    • The velocity of the end-to-end lifecycle is accelerating, as customers expect milestones to be reached sooner and deliverables to be presented faster.
    • The increased popularity of remote working – which was already trending before the pandemic but has now firmly entered mainstream – is forcing businesses to re-imagine how they provide services at-a-distance, in a manner that drives performance, efficiency and cost-savings.
    • Businesses are overloaded and overwhelmed with more information than ever before and must find smarter and more cost-effective ways to turn this into actionable intelligence that drives faster, better decision-making.

    For some businesses, the impact of these forces will make the road ahead daunting and dangerous. But for others, the journey forward will present many opportunities to drive profitability, increase customer acquisition and loyalty, and expand operations.

    What separates businesses that fear the future from those that embrace it? The former will be saddled with processes and software that may have worked well (or at least, well enough) in the past, but are no longer viable. The latter, on the other end of the spectrum, will be empowered and enabled by a PSA tool that serves as the backbone for noteworthy success and sustained growth.

    Build Your Professional Services System with Planview

    Planview is committed to “Building the Future of Connected Services” by enabling businesses to connect, plan, collaborate, and work across the services lifecycle and within the context of the enterprise they live in.

    Looking for more insights on services automation and professional services solutions?