That's it. You've had it.
The communication mishaps. The workflow interruptions. The lost invoices. And all the paper files, spreadsheets, whiteboards or maybe even 10 different software platforms it takes to keep your business running.
You know that's no way to live or work. There's something better out there.
Congratulations! You're ready to find a professional services automation (PSA) software that will connect and manage every aspect of your business, cut down on all your headaches and even allow you to spend time with your golf clubs/camper/XBox/family again.
But where do you start? Here are 17 must-have features to look for in a PSA software platform:
1. CRM and account management
You have to have a place to store all of your customer and prospect account information. Beyond the basic contact details, a good PSA (just like a plain ol' CRM) will track every interaction — phone call, email, in-person visit, etc. — and allow you to access historical data as well as real-time entries.
2. Sales automation
Your sales team needs complete visibility into the sales pipeline as well as the ability to identify and focus on opportunities with the greatest revenue potential and analyze what’s working and what’s not.
Unlike most CRMs, PSAs also offer workflow automation that will send reminders to complete a task, such as a follow-up phone call to a prospect, or reminders about a warranty expiration, which is an easy way to open sales talks with existing customers.
3. Proposal and quote generation
You're a professional and you want your proposals and quotes to look and read professional too. That's why you should make sure your PSA software allows you to quickly generate a clean, attractive document with accurate data easily displayed. To make that happen, your PSA needs to offer customizable templates that allow you to match your brand and be able to pull parts and labor information from your inventory and price book.
Many PSAs also will allow the workflow to continue after a quote or proposal has been approved, easily converting into a service order for dispatch to assign to a technician or a project to be mapped out and tasks assigned.
4. Tracking contracts and agreements
Once your proposal or quote is approved, you need a place to enter the details of the deal and also a way to keep track of the terms. You want a platform that automatically tallies usage, compiles reports and makes it easy to analyze the data and make adjustments. This ensures you're making a profit while your customers receive the level of services you promised.
Also, recurring revenue models are all the rage now. Be sure your PSA can handle those types of contracts and agreements as well.
5. Service ticketing management
At the heart of a PSA software is a service ticketing system. Work orders are not only needed for a new job but also for ongoing customer visits. It's imperative this system doesn't let anything fall through the cracks. So make sure your PSA will do the heavy lifting for you, like automatically creating service tickets from customer emails, pulling real-time asset details and sending alerts when tickets have been open for a set amount of time.
6. Technician time & utilization tracking
Beyond capturing employee time logs, the best PSA software platforms allow you to track billable time, downtime and travel time so you know exactly how your technicians are spending their time.
The industry goal is that techs should spend about 80 percent of their work hours doing billable work. With your PSA, you can track that number and then reward those hitting that goal, adjust scheduling and look at contract profitability to make sure that you're maximizing your techs' time and your profitability.
7. Purchasing and receiving
Real-time is the name of the game with purchasing and receiving. Just like inventory, you need and want the details as it happens. A good PSA will not only provide complete purchase order workflow, delivery tracking and RMA processing, but also offer real-time price book lookup capabilities.
8. Inventory control
Inventory is something that touches every department and really impacts the bottom line, so you need to be able to rely on your PSA software to help you manage the complete supply chain. Real-time, accurate data sounds basic, but there are PSAs out there that turn it into a headache for customers instead of helping.
Make sure your PSA can provide visibility into inventory at every location (including work trucks), automatically send notifications when stock levels are low or a product is nearing the end of its lifespan and generate value and profitability reports.
9. Real-time, serialized asset tracking and RMM integrations
On its own, your PSA also should offer real-time asset tracking so that you can manage your products and services, like hardware (or HaaS), software (or SaaS), content filtering, remote off-site backup and warranties.
These days, it seems like you're either already a managed services provider (MSP) or you're looking to add managed IT to your business. So your PSA also must have integrations to industry-leading remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools, such as Continuum.
10. Project management
Successful and profitable projects demand information from many different areas in order to accurately track progress. From budget, materials, labor usage and timelines, a PSA software should be able to track all of it in order to give you insight at any point into the status of all projects from a single portal and keep things moving in the right direction.
11. Billing and invoicing
With a PSA software, you should never lose another invoice or forget to bill a customer ever again. Sounds pretty awesome, right? So make sure the solution you pick can auto-generate and auto-send invoices based on service tickets, project status, SLAs and more.
In addition, your PSA should be able to handle payment processing, whether it's automatic or one-time with a credit card or ACH.
12. Accounting integration
Unlike an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, PSAs generally do not have a baked-in accounting feature. But that's a good thing. Instead of trying to find an accountant who knows that specific PSA software, you can hire one that knows top accounting packages like QuickBooks and Sage. (Plus, accountants are particular when it comes to what software they use to manage the books. Don't mess with them.) And you're able to do that because you will pick a PSA that has integrations to one or more of those accounting systems.
13. Reports and analytics
A PSA software will house all of your data. You can input data all day long. But you also need to be able to have it spit out some data. Make sure the PSA you choose can generate reports for your team to analyze, such as financial projections, employee time and utilization, expenses and contract profitability just to name a few.
14. Mobile app and online portals
It's the modern digital world, so of course your PSA software needs to have a mobile app that your sales team and technicians can use while they're in the field to pull information and enter it. The best PSA software mobile apps will also provide payment processing on-the-go as well as signature capture.
In addition, some PSAs also offer online customer portals that enable your customers to open service tickets, approve quotes or proposals, pay a bill and other great tools. And all of those actions should then send an automatic notification to you in the PSA application.
15. Implementation and training
A PSA software is a beast. It will completely change — for the better — how you and your company operate on a day-to-day basis. So you need to make sure the one you choose offers dedicated training and resources to help you and your team get up and running smoothly and successfully.
This usually comes in the form of an assigned training specialist who checks in with you to make sure you are completing all the necessary steps as well as shows you how to start using the product.
16. Ongoing support
Even with all of the upfront training, you will still need ongoing support from your PSA software company. Be sure to find one that offers free, live technical help — preferably with staff located in your country. That sounds pretty straightforward, but there are many solutions on the market that charge for every phone call or email to the support department. And even more that only offer support via email. Or you end up talking to someone in a call center on the other side of the world that doesn't care about your business. That can be very frustrating and costly.
In addition to technical support, check out what kind of ongoing training opportunities your PSA software company offers. Do they have an online academy so that you have a way for new employees to train? Are there any community forums where you can ask questions of fellow business leaders? These are all important questions to ask up front.
17. Culture and fit
And, finally, because a PSA software will be such a big part of your business, you should choose a product and partner that you like working with and can trust. We highly suggest a quirky, fun and friendly company to guide you and ensure that the software you are paying to use doesn't turn into shelfware.
Don't waste any more time or money. Begin your search for a PSA software today. We've even put together this free and handy PSA Checklist to help you out.