Starting a new, trendy workout routine is great. But it all comes back to the strength of your core. The same is true for professional services. You have to keep up with changing client demands, evolving services types, and an increasingly complex list of engagements.
For many PSOs, that speaks directly to the professional services automation (PSA) tool being used. Read on for the top six core-strengthening features every seriously-considered PSA tool should have.
1. Contract management
A PSA solution that strongly integrates with your customer relationship management (CRM) system provides visibility into the quoting process and contract details—enabling your teams to more easily manage demand, forecast financials, and conduct pipeline forecasting and profitability analysis.
Contract types are also key. Being able to define, automate, and track contract details ensures invoicing runs smoothly and enables teams to combine and manage fee schedules, billing rules, time and expense rules, and more. This is particularly useful as services contracts become more complex and the demand for new project types increases.
Contract management is critical to optimizing operational success within your PSO, and so is how you gain actual visibility into that data. A PSA solution with a strong business analytics function improves communication about the financial pulse and health of engagements and is an essential feature for monitoring the overall success of your PSO.
2. Financial management: Monitoring and supporting healthy growth
A close second to CRM integration is how well your PSA tool plays with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. When your PSA and ERP applications talk to each other, workflows are automated for project billing, budgeting, and days sales outstanding (DSO) tracking—all of which provides a real-time look at the financial health of your projects. In this case, simple automation makes a world of difference.
Today’s PSOs juggle a multitude of engagements and contracts, and resources are multitasking across workstreams both with smaller managed service types and focused project delivery models.
Find a tool that keeps the most important things in mind: real-time visibility such as notifications and alerts that help you course correct, multi-currency support that lends itself to global organizations, and real-time configurable dashboards that aggregate the data that’s most important to your end user.
3. Resource management
Your business is your people, and their knowledge is your commodity. You don’t want a seasoned veteran assigned to something a junior resource could handle. But new engagements come through the door every week. Being able to forecast capacity and demand enables your resource managers to plan and mitigate resource swapping. That makes resource management within your PSA tool a critical feature.
But resource management in professional services isn’t simple. You’re likely working with a decentralized workforce across time zones. Strong integration with HR systems coupled with a powerful resource management process ensures the right resources are working on the right engagements.
Look for a PSA tool that provides insight into how allocation aligns to financial objectives, and PSA modules that make it easy to perform “what-if” analysis to ensure capacity can meet projected demand. That way, you’re not overpromising on resources, nor are you leaving anyone on the bench or money on the table.
4. Project management: Success from start to finish
Because today’s projects are not one-size-fits-all, choosing the right execution method and being able to manage that within your PSA tool is critical. Whether you’re using waterfall, agile, PMBOK, Prince2, or more, a multimodal approach enables businesses to be nimbler.
Make sure your PSA solution is equipped to handle your delivery method of choice. PSA is more than just a work-management tool, it is a single source of truth for all project data. Monitor a project’s financial health every step of the way to ensure delivery stays on track, within budget, and with a positive impact on margins.
5. Time & expense management: Empower today’s workforce
Your workforce is inherently mobile and today’s technology is designed to support that. Finding a PSA solution with built-in mobile functionality is paramount to the success of your organization for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, teams can work more conveniently from the device that’s already in their hands. Secondly, aim to increase accuracy and decrease leakage. According to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, we lose 75% of the information we learn after six days.
Convenient processes for tracking time, tasks, and expenses increase the frequency of entry and accuracy of data, so make sure your PSA has out-of-the-box support for a mobile app. Even better? Find an app designed with professional services in mind; for example, on- and offline capabilities that automatically sync data once an Internet connection is reestablished.
The result is happier teams, increased accuracy in data, and happier clients.
6. Revenue management: Ensuring healthy growth
Measuring results at every step of the engagement is critical to reporting on how margins are being impacted. But with all the engagements that are in-flight, that may seem impossible. That’s not the case. Between integrated invoicing capabilities that streamline the order-to-cash cycle and automated calculations that capture data at every step of the engagement, it’s possible to recognize revenue in real-time.
Aggregating data to reflect all in-flight engagements starts to paint the picture on how the organization as a whole is performing. That’s valuable knowledge.
Today’s PSOs are challenged from every angle to meet evolving client demands and adapt to industry trends, but PSA continues to be the foundation for managing engagements from beginning to end. The right solution with the right features is out there. As you sift through all the options, keep these core capability sets in mind and making sure the PSA tool you choose strengthens your organization and helps you grow.