What is Professional Services Automation?
Professional Services Automation (PSA) is software which has been developed for companies who sell a professional service (think law, accounting, advertising, design etc). It has been designed to assist by streamlining and improving processes which help professional services companies to quantify and qualify their key business measurements.
The kinds of capability included within good Professional Services Automation software includes document management, recording of time (and materials), allocating resources to jobs, project management and planning and customer relationship management (CRM).
A company with good Professional Services Automation software can expect to see an overall improvement in efficiency and profitability. Crucially they should be able to tell whether the client budget covers the cost of the work which needs to be done.
Sue’s Story – Designed for Success
Sue owns a design agency. She started as a freelancer after leaving a big advertising agency but quickly found that she had more work than she could cope with and started to recruit some full and part time designers to help her fulfill her growing work load.
To begin with Sue would use a spreadsheet to track her projects. Gant charts on excel would be used to track time and to allocate resource. But when it came to billing – which she completed through Sage – she had no real idea whether the project took much longer than anticipated, or what materials were used in order to complete the job.
Sue was also aware that sometimes her completed project plan wouldn’t always reflect what had actually happened. For example, on one job she had allocated Dave as project manager & lead designer resource, but half way through Dave had delegated the design work to Lisa so he could complete a different project which he hadn’t finished and was overdue. Lisa is a freelance resource so this significantly increased the cost of the project. This change in plan had undoubtedly eaten into the profit margins – but by how much?
The business had been doubling each year for the past 3 years; the customers increasing in size and the projects in complexity. Yet, Sue wasn’t sure that her profitability was increasing in line with this.
Feeling like she was losing control, Sue decided to do something about it.
After searching the market place for a Professional Services Automation system which would give her the visibility she needed to make better decisions, Sue invested in NetSuite OpenAir.
She chose NetSuite because she liked the instant visibility she would get from a cloud based platform. It is a combined platform which offers project & resource planning, customer relationship management and finance. Because all these functions are linked Sue can get accurate business intelligence about a project.
Now, when a project is going off track, she has the opportunity to fix it quickly before it becomes a profit drain. Time sheets capture blocks of time down to 15 minutes so Sue gets a true picture of time taken on the project. Because of this better visibility, her forecasting has improved and she now no longer under allocates resources (like the example above with Dave). She realised most of her projects were marginal and has increased her rates. She has confidence that she is charging enough to cover the correct amount of time and expenses typically accrued.
Since implementing NetSuite OpenAir, Sue has managed to cut back on the amount of expensive freelance resource by around 64%.
An added bonus is that because all the office functions are linked, on one piece of software, Sue doesn’t have to duplicate all the orders into Sage. Time to bill has improved and cash flow for the business has increased.