Cloud technology coupled with subscription software models are making powerful tools easy to integrate and affordably priced. In the professional service industry, small and mid-sized organizations have relied on non-integrated and disparate systems to manage day-to-day activities, including project management, collaboration, and resource planning, among others. These limited business applications like the accounting package QuickBooks require lots of manual processes and heavy use of Excel to handle project accounting and management needs. Some take advantage of inexpensive cloud professional service automation or PSA tools that can help automate some processes but have limited ceilings and generally do not integrate with other systems – leading to more manual data entry and more spreadsheets.
The biggest category of PSA solutions currently in use are the classic legacy software packages. Many of these solutions provide strong functionality, but are expensive and require significant up-front, capital investment. The fact that these PSA tools were designed in the pre-cloud era and often contain older code, doing any configuration work, customization, equipping for remote access, and creating system integrations is also costly and complex and ongoing support costs tend to run high as well. Over the past few years, the market share for storied names has been shrinking.
Market trends are certainly moving towards “True Cloud” solutions. We use the term True-Cloud in reference to modern solutions that are architected from the ground-up for the cloud. Many legacy software providers offer what they refer to as cloud professional service automation solutions, which are in reality the same base software hosted in a dedicated cloud and billed monthly as software-as-a-service. True-cloud solutions leverage modern cloud architecture to be faster and easier to deploy, configure, and integrate.
In general, business application options for growing service firms can be broken down into four categories
- Pure PSA/Project Accounting – No General Ledger
- More PSA—for companies with very minimal GL requirements but integration to CRM
- End-to-End—for professional service firms that need PSA, project accounting, finance and CRM
- End-to-End ERP—for multi-faceted firms where products and/or materials need to be managed along with professional services
As you evaluate business application solutions for your firm, you’ll likely come across some common buzz phrases that describe solution capabilities. Here are 5 you might see:
Of course, we know that many solutions simply don’t scale – whether functionally, number of users, amount of data, or what have you.
As mentioned earlier, many legacy solutions have “cloud” versions, but they aren’t really designed for the cloud – they are just priced on a SaaS model and hosted in a dedicated, private cloud.
Many PSA tools claim to offer all the business functionality you need in a single platform and a number actually do. More often, business requirements and processes require integrations to other systems.
What exactly is simple integration? Has anyone been part of a simple integration project? In fact, with modern software, integration is significantly simpler than legacy software, but you always have to dig in to see what is meant by simple integration.
Visibility and Insight
Really important, of course. The benefit of an actual end-to-end system is twofold – you get more efficient processes plus the ability to more easily manage and manipulate the data generated by those processes providing enhanced visibility and insight.
With almost 80% of a professional service firm’s cost structure predicated on people, Progressus PSA was developed to truly address utilization of personnel to their fullest capacity. Because it is built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, it can also optimize core financials and integrate sales and marketing functions—all critical elements that provide insight and visibility across the entire professional service lifecycle.
Cloud Professional Service Automation for Small and Mid-sized Firms
Progressus enables small and mid-sized Professional Service firms to drive greater utilization, project quality, customers experience and profitability. You can learn more about the advantages of Progressus and see a product demonstration in this recently recorded webinar.