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Professional services automation (PSA) software helps professional services firms manage time tracking, contracts, project management, invoicing, billing and more. By migrating from manual processes to automated workflows, many professional services businesses have found they can lower overhead costs, grow faster and improve their overall efficiency.

But with so many PSA solutions on the market, picking the best one for your business can be an uphill battle.

In this blog, we explore eight things you need to look out for when choosing a professional services automation tool...

  1. Understanding your key requirements
  2. Knowing the cost of change
  3. Connecting your front and back-office data
  4. Understanding the daily administration effort
  5. Levels of integration you may need
  6. Evaluating how easy the solution is to use
  7. Potential for scalability
  8. Finding the right partner

1. Understanding your key requirements

Focus on high priority requirements and work with your vendor to concentrate on the business processes that link directly to your requirements.

Examples of key processes to evaluate could include:

  • What tools are available to help support your operations team on outstanding tasks and follow-ups?
  • How are change orders tracked/approved and how is their impact on project margin and delivery timescales measured?
  • What tools are available for subcontractors to view and update project status, track time, record expenses and collaborate with your client(s) and project team?

2. Knowing the cost of change

Implementing a new solution is a big change for any organisation (and of course there's an associated cost to consider).

But it's important to focus on the added value this change will bring to your business, employees and customers. The right vendor will guide you through this process and ensure you see the best return on investment (ROI).

You also need to make sure your employees understand why the change is happening and empower them with the right tools to get the job done. Without a detailed plan, you could be met with resistance from your employees who don’t agree with what’s happening. This ultimately leads to a lack of engagement, user adoption and potential decrease in efficiency.

So, gain initial buy-in from your employees who will be implementing the change to help remove friction later on.

You can read more into the key change management steps to follow by clicking here.

3. Connecting your front and back-office data

To get the most from your new PSA solution, you need to connect it with your services and sales processes. So, when evaluating different solutions, make sure that you fully understand how the solution can collaborate with your sales, scoping and delivery teams in preparing deal proposals for example.

This way, you can ensure one version of the truth enabling better business decision making, more accurate forecasting and the highest level of collaboration possible between your sales and services teams.

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4. Understanding the daily administration effort

You’ll need assistance from your IT team or chosen partner during initial system setup to ensure user accounts and security profiles meet your in-house policies. During this period, assess what level of in-house assistance you’ll need to handle regular maintenance tasks such as:

  • Adding new users
  • Managing community access
  • Updating approval hierarchies

From this, you can determine whether your business can effectively manage these tasks independently or if you’ll need support from a partner.

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5. Levels of integration you may need

On average, a business unit uses almost 100 different cloud services on their own. So, look for a professional services automation tool that can integrate with the tools your teams already use that help them work more productively and efficiently.

For example, internal productivity tools like Microsoft 365 are widely used by people working in the industry on a daily basis – from administrative and line staff to executives and IT teams.

By investing in PSA software that provides a familiar interface and range of capabilities, you can further boost employee productivity. Not only will it remove the need for your users to get used to another way of working or learn another system interface, they’ll also gain access to one version of the truth from a reporting perspective.

6. Evaluating how easy the solution is to use

You can have the most cutting-edge technology on the market today but it doesn’t mean anything unless your team knows how to use it. Consider how quickly and easily your workforce can adapt to the new platform and how much training will be needed.

Tip: Consider how well the solution will integrate with your current platforms and processes – you want maximum value for minimal effort.

Businessman hand using mobile phone with digital layer effect as business strategy concept

7. Potential for scalability

As mentioned earlier, not only is frequently switching platforms expensive, it also stalls the progress of your business. Think about where your organisation will be in the next year (and in five years). Does the solution have room for adding more users or features down the line? The right PSA system will grow with your company and help you scale.

8. Finding the right partner

You should look for a solution from a trustworthy and knowledgeable vendor who has a proven track record of helping businesses like yours. The last thing you want to do after investing your time into researching PSA software is gamble on working with a vendor that doesn’t have the right experience.

As you research your options, consider the vendor’s reputation. You should be looking for a solution that’s being provided by a company that’s less of a vendor and more like a partner.

Some key attributes include:

  • They’re honest and direct – good partners won’t always say “yes”. Instead, they won’t be afraid to say “no” when it’s not in your best interest. They’ll provide the reasons behind why they said “no” and work with you to find a new, more impactful way to help achieve your goals
  • They’re determined to see you succeed – the right partner will be someone who’s passionate about your success and not simply interested in being paid. They’ll also understand success is about long-term sustainability
  • They’re not afraid to challenge your thinking (with your best interests in mind) – good partners will always work with you to set clear expectations from the start and manage those expectations throughout your partnership. But they won’t be afraid to challenge your thinking along the journey to help you achieve the best results possible
  • They’re transparent – the best partners won’t have a bunch of hidden fees. Instead, they’ll be priced fairly and competitively so you can be sure your partnership is a sustainable one

Your guide to professional services automation tools

At Columbus, we appreciate choosing any professional services automation tool is a major decision for your business – and one you shouldn’t take lightly.

We also believe software alone isn’t the key to your success – it’s vital your solution is delivered by a partner who’s invested in seeing the bigger picture. This way, you not only have the tools needed to get to the next level, but also the necessary support to keep you on the right path to success and business growth.

In our guide, we cover everything you need to know when choosing PSA software, from the features you’ll need, to helping you determine when the best time to invest is.

Get started today and download our guide below.

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