What is PSA?
Introduction: Defining PSA
Professional Services Automation (PSA) refers to the use of IT by businesses in the professional services industry to automate routine processes and perform data-driven workflow management. The purpose of PSA is to allow service-oriented businesses to operate more efficiently and profitably. PSA helps businesses achieve these aims in a variety of ways, including:
- Service Delivery Optimization
- Intelligent Resource Allocation
- Automation of Administrative Tasks
- Task Tracking for Improved Contract Management and Customer Experience (CX)
- Data-Driven Business Insights
This article provides an overview of PSA’s core features as well as some of the more advanced facilities that modern PSA software boasts. We will be focusing on PSA’s utility for Managed Service Provider (MSP) businesses.
Why PSA is Important for Your MSP
An important tool for any kind of IT provider, PSA is especially crucial for MSPs. The modern MSP has many moving parts, and in today’s competitive IT industry, to be successful as an MSP you must develop systematic and scalable approaches to service delivery. Without such approaches, a growing MSP will have trouble staying organized and, in turn, making customers happy.
PSA is a pivotal component of a mature MSP’s operations as it furnishes MSPs with a single data set, or single source of truth (SSOT), which offers a “bird’s-eye view” of operations, and in turn, allows for holistic optimization of key business processes. If you want your business to be efficient and scalable, the place to start is with your PSA.
A good PSA will connect your front and back office, and refine workflows so that your entire MSP functions as a cohesive unit. If your employees are the “backbone” of your business, your PSA is the “nervous system,” responsible for maintaining the flow of business-critical information throughout your entire company.
The question is not whether MSPs need a robust PSA system, but what kind. The right PSA solution can elevate your MSP by bringing increased efficiency and business intelligence (BI) to practically every area of your operations.
Let’s take a closer look at the key features of good PSA software and how these features contribute to an MSP’s overall health as a business.
Key Features of PSA Software
Modern PSA software has evolved far beyond the management of help desk functions. The right PSA solution doesn’t just improve the way your technicians carry out projects and handle tickets, it also enhances the strategic side of your organization by yielding insights into what is — and isn’t — maximizing overall profitability. Adding an effective PSA tool to your MSP is almost like hiring another member of management, in that it bolsters your company’s capacity to plan for the future and adapt to changing circumstances in real-time.
PSA benefits service businesses in many ways. It can be helpful and clarifying to sort these benefits into three categories:
- Internal Operations
- Business Strategy
Let’s go over each of these categories in turn.
An MSP is a service business first, and an IT business second. What does this mean? It means that successful, industry-leading MSPs got to where they are by thinking about the customer. It is through the lens of customer satisfaction that you need to analyze your delivery service. PSA gives you that lens.
PSA impacts client-facing activities most directly through the help desk, where automation can enhance the service delivery capacities of your team of technicians by taking routine tasks off of their plate.
PSA optimizes your MSP’s service delivery at four levels: basic automation, resource allocation, information management, and strategic oversight.
Basic automation refers to PSA’s capacity to take care of simple business tasks without manual intervention. It represents one of the core purposes of PSA, and it is arguably PSA’s single-most important feature.
With PSA software, your MSP can draw on automation to clear space in your technicians’ schedules for higher-priority, higher-value projects. This alone can lift the quality of your service delivery by significant and quantifiable amounts.
The second way PSA improves your MSP’s service delivery is by allocating resources in accordance with real-time demands. In plain English, the right software enables your MSP to put the right techs on the right jobs at the right time.
Certain software allows managers to split, combine, and elevate tickets based on performance metrics that provide real-time access to technicians’ progress. Too many techs on a ticket? Not enough? The wrong techs? Let PSA answer these questions for you, so you can focus on building your business.
A third way that PSA enhances customer-facing operations is by giving MSPs a centralized location for customer data. PSA solutions with a built-in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool allow you to maintain account profiles on all of your clients as well as detailed records of customer interactions. This repository of information, organized by your PSA tool, allows you and your managers to monitor the health of your client relationships.
PSA’s usefulness as an information management tool extends to customer experience (CX); in addition to providing your team with customer information, PSA gives your customers real-time access to the status of their service requests. Customers who know what’s going on are happier — as well as less likely to call into the help desk and tie up technicians with questions and concerns.
An MSP’s customer-facing activities reflect its internal relationships — the health of its teams. Excellent service delivery begins with transparency; managers need to have a clear view of ticketing progress — or lack thereof! Ensuring that customers’ expectations are being met and contracts honored requires good data.
This brings us to the fourth way in which PSA optimizes service delivery: good PSA software scrapes together all the data you and your project managers need to make informed decisions and puts it all in one convenient dashboard. Managers who know what their teams are doing — and teams that know they are being held accountable — will do their jobs better. It’s that simple.
To summarize, a good PSA tool allows you to inject efficiency into practically every facet of your support desk. With the right PSA solution, your MSP can allocate resources more intelligently to meet real-time capacity limitations and customer demands, view customer information through a single pane of glass to maintain healthy client relationships, and achieve better service delivery through automation and a culture of transparency and accountability.
Administrative tasks can eat up a lot of time and resources when they’re not performed efficiently. PSA allows growing businesses to automate large portions of admin work, and in turn, achieve much greater operational efficiency. Billing and financial activities in particular become much easier with the right software solutions.
Timesheets might be mundane, but they’re important. You want to be paid for the work you do in a timely fashion, with minimal disputes and hassles. With PSA, you can streamline the entire process of time tracking. Instead of wasting hours each week puzzling out billable activities, you can let PSA capture all of your billable items and feed them into a centralized location — a dashboard that provides you with a snapshot of your organization’s financial activities. Contracts, client revenue, invoicing deadlines — when everything is in one place, you can spend less time figuring out what you need to do, and more time doing it.
Certain PSA tools also offer integration with popular accounting software. When your PSA and accounting software are linked by automation, financial records are far less likely to be lost and your business is far less likely to overlook billable activities.
Like many improvements that PSA brings, the benefits of enlisting automation for billing show up most clearly at the level of customer support. When your financial processes are smooth and transparent, backed up by clear resource logging and time tracking, you will experience fewer disputes with clients over billing. This is of course good for its own sake, but also, it means more time to grow your business; the less time you’re arguing with clients, the more time you can devote to attracting new ones.
PSA has evolved from an automation tool into a sophisticated engine for analytics and business strategy. Modern PSA software not only streamlines the operations of service-oriented businesses, but assists with strategic activities such as forecasting, bidding, and profitability analysis.
PSA can’t make big business decisions for you, but it can focus your priorities, narrow down your options, and give you the data you need to make rational choices about the direction you take your company.
We have already discussed how PSA optimizes help desk activities by allocating resources in real time — by putting the right techs on the right jobs. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the BI that gets built into modern PSA software.
The right PSA tool can allow your MSP to engage in more data-driven, intelligent bidding, and some PSA software can help client managers identify potential business opportunities or upsells with existing clients.
PSA can also give you a precise idea of what your company’s capacity will be multiple months into the future, which allows for more strategic planning. Human beings are highly fallible when it comes to estimating how much can be accomplished in a given timeframe. PSA allows MSPs and other service businesses to take on the right amount of work — neither too much, nor too little — which translates to superior service delivery and greater customer satisfaction.
This is just an introduction to some of the ways in which PSA can yield global insights into your company’s operations, but it should be clear that PSA is more than automation; it’s a suite of tools and features that collectively allow for greater strategic insights and business agility.
How to Choose the Right PSA Tool for Your Business
MSPs need a PSA solution to compete in today’s market, but not all solutions are created equal. Picking the right tool for your MSP is critical, and it’s important that you do your research. Whether you’re adding PSA for the first time, or considering a transition from one tool to another, asking these three questions can help you make the right choice for your business.
Does the PSA tool you’re considering offer useful integrations?
As important as your PSA tool is to your business, it’s one of many tools, and it’s vital to your MSP’s success that your various technology solutions are all knitted together tightly.
At the absolute least, you want a PSA solution that integrates with your Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tool. When PSA and RMM are able to “talk to” each other, your MSP will function much more smoothly.
Before selecting a PSA tool, consider the integrations it offers. Modern PSA software can integrate with accounting and billing tools, CRM software, documentation platforms, and more. And, when assessing the integrative capacities of a particular tool, keep your business’s specific needs firmly in mind; instead of buying more for a flashy tool with integrations you don’t need, opt for a simpler tool that will easily harmonize with your MSP’s IT environment.
Does the PSA tool you’re considering serve your MSP’s specific needs?
Your MSP is unique, and it’s important to remember that the PSA that’s best for your MSP is the one that best helps you run your business the way you want.
Instead of getting distracted by the ‘bells and whistles’ that a particular PSA solution comes with, start with the question: What do I want most out of a PSA tool? When your own priorities are clear, it’s much easier to assess the relative merits of different solutions.
Is it easy to use?
When shopping around for a new PSA tool for your business, don’t lose sight of one simple truth: A PSA tool is only as useful as it is easy-to-use. It doesn’t matter how great a solution sounds ‘in theory’ if your employees don’t end up embracing it and using it consistently.
This means it’s important, when comparing different PSA tools, to take different solutions for ‘test drives.’ You can’t get a feel for a particular tool’s interface — how easy it is to use — until you actually use it. A lot of PSA tools on today’s market offer free trials, so take advantage!
Kaseya BMS: A PSA Tool Built for MSPs
MSPs that struggle with growth are often bogged down by operational inefficiencies. These inefficiencies generally stem from inadequate integrations between departments, functions, and people. Information gets lost and workflows interrupted when your MSP doesn’t function smoothly as a whole.
Kaseya Business Management Solution (BMS) is a PSA platform specifically designed to help MSPs achieve operational harmony without a large front-end investment. Its scalable, cloud-based architecture allows growing MSPs to implement cost-effective solutions for all of their core functions. BMS includes everything you want from modern PSA software, at about one third the price of competing solutions. Learn more!
Choosing the right PSA tool for your MSP is a big decision. The 20 is a group of MSPs who work together to conquer the ‘business side’ of IT. With The 20 at your back, you can implement big changes at your MSP with a community of experts to guide you through the transition. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can help.