Building a High Performing PSO - Technology Best Practices

Author: Ian Needs

Professional services automation (PSA) software is designed specifically for the professional services industry. PSA solutions help organisations unravel the complexities and inefficiencies associated with managing multiple projects, and help streamline essential business processes. It has been well documented that the world’s leading PSO’s utilise professional service automation software to complete projects faster, build stronger customer alliances and increase revenue opportunities.

In this post we explore how PSA solutions assist professional services organisations in benefiting from automating basic business functions including customer relationship management (CRM), project management, resource scheduling, time and expense capture through to billing, invoicing, and document management − and how, with careful integration, PSO’s can build a seamless process from bid to bill.

Improving Customer Relationships and Retention

It is a well-known fact that it costs more for a business to gain a new customer than it does to retain one. PSOs need an efficient and secure method of managing and accessing valuable customer information. Advanced PSA solutions will include the most beneficial CRM features that will allow you to organize all client and contact information in a central place and enable you to track sales enquiries, manage sales proposals, log daily communications, and integrate with leading CRM applications.

Optimising Chargeable Revenue and Project Profitability

Tracking all billable time and expenditure is essential for effective project profitability. By adopting automated timesheet entry, timesheets can be entered and approved quickly and easily, reducing errors, speeding up billing cycles, leading to improved cash flow. With automated expense capture, PSOs can simplify the expense submission, approval and payment process, dramatically reducing the overhead associated with processing expense claims, enabling you to recoup more by accurately passing expense costs on to your clients. Furthermore, by implementing tighter expense management control you will gain real time visibility into all company expenditure and ensure your employees are compliant with your expenses policy.

Improving Cash Flow

Professional services organisations have a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing the invoicing process. PSA solutions are designed to remove the complexity of traditional billing and invoicing systems by simplifying the process, eliminating any wasted effort and avoiding damage to client relationships due to errors. Advanced PSA solutions will effectively manage all of your billing and invoicing requirements and include features that will enable you to set up client contracts and customise billing cycles so you can maximise billing opportunities. In fact PSA solutions are evolving to support the challenges of the modern PSO including outcome based and deliverables based billing, fixed price projects, capped billing and service productization.

Optimising Resource Usage across Service Delivery

Professional services organisations work within complex multi project environments. PSA solutions are designed to effectively manage all of your projects − large or small. Project planning will allow you to quickly create project plans, from a simple task list to a full work breakdown structure and will provide a clear, consistent method of planning and tracking project progress.

One of the key benefits of implementing a PSA solution is the ability to integrate resource scheduling with strategic resource planning, enabling you to better manage your most valuable assets − your talent. From annual service planning to short term engagements, this will provide complete visibility and control over your entire resource pool, helping you to boost productivity levels and reduce costs. With real time access to utilisation analysis, you can better understand resource capacity levels; and identify skills shortages and training requirements.

Encouraging Knowledge Sharing and Innovation

PSA solutions will enable you to work better as a team and help to shape the future of your organisation with functionality that supports a more collaborative working environment. Advanced PSA solutions will empower your team by providing central, shared access to all project related documentation including reports, specifications and templates; helping you to improve efficiency levels and communication. They will also allow for the capturing of suggestions, customer feedback and lessons learned so you can leverage new ideas, better serve your customers and improve project delivery.

The SaaS Factor

SaaS is quickly becoming the implementation option of choice – as the benefits are hard to ignore. One of the core features of deploying a SaaS PSA solution is the collaborative, 100% web based service. SaaS vendors host the software and data centrally so you no longer have the worry or expense of having the correct technical infrastructure in place or the in-house expertise to keep it maintained. Accessibility issues are a thing of the past as your in-house systems are replaced with a 24 x 7 service that can be accessed anywhere in the world over a standard web browser. SaaS software itself is designed to be easily adopted, is scalable and will require minimal effort to roll out.

In Summary

It’s hard to ignore the fact that the top performing PSO’s have adopted Professional Services Automation technology to optimize key aspects of professional services delivery, helping to reduce waste, improve processes, drive governance, improve customer retention levels and provide a competitive edge.

For a time, professional services automation software was out of the reach of many new, growing or small to medium sized PSOs − as the cost of the enabling technology − was inhibitive. With the SaaS delivery model − PSA solutions are now in the reach of most if not all PSOs, offering significant ROI.