Before we get into this, a quick definition of Professional Services Automation (PSA).
PSA - software created to aid processes associated with both project and services delivery for businesses, whereby such services are a primary driver of revenue, in order to provide a real-time overview to manage workload and monitor the health of the business. Typical elements of PSA include but are not limited to, resource management, capacity management, workforce automation, project management, time tracking, billing, reporting and analytics plus collaboration tools.
You might question why Salesforce would serve as the basis for your Professional Services Automation. Well, it's the same reason that anyone uses any of the suite of Salesforce applications - in order to streamline workflows and organize your data in a single source of truth. If Professional Services (PS) form a large part of your product and/or service, if and when your business scales the team managing those services will inevitably require a tool that connects to their data so they can collaborate effectively with not only each other but also interdepartmentally and with their customer. Typically in early-stage businesses, this will be managed in spreadsheets, but by moving out of spreadsheets and into a Salesforce native PSA tool you can automate key components of your PS delivery and manage workload, capacity and KPIs in real-time and in a systematic fashion.
So what are these benefits and how is the Salesforce element both a strategic choice and an intelligent one?
SALESFORCE IS ALREADY YOUR CRM SYSTEM
No surprises here - you're likely to be interested in adopting Salesforce PSA tools if you are already using Salesforce’s base tools, and given that they have upwards of 19% market share, over double of its next competitor, there is a likelihood that you already are. This means there is demand for a PSA tool to augment that system in order to support the needs of services delivery. The beauty of a PSA tool like Precursive, is it aligns symbiotically with Salesforce tools so there’s not doubling up on features with information passing seamlessly from one to the other.
By adopting a tool that plugs into your existing CRM you can easily connect your data so the silos between teams are reduced or eliminated, and customer demands are captured effectively in one place.
GANTT / CALENDAR / RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
The calendar apps of this world simply don’t reach the required standard when it comes to the wider features PSA tools can offer. Go beyond scheduling and task management with features that map your forecast work versus your actuals for effective workload planning. Monitor and fix capacity and skill gaps ahead of time so you can plug them effectively. Ensure managers have access to a real-time view of work that they can highlight burnt-out, or alternatively free space, within their teams time and quickly find the expertise in the business with the PSA apps that have resource request functionality, whereby the system suggests the best person or team for the work at any given point in time. Wrap that up in an easy-to-use and interactive Gantt view and the calendar now works for you and your project.
Not just project management but multiple project(s) management. As you scale that spreadsheet relied on so much in the early years will have to evolve. The tools in PSA will provide that high-level overview of all your projects, meaning you can handle an increased workload and manage in-project dependencies and KPIs with customer data being fed from Salesforce so you only have to enter it once. With customer, resourcing and project data managed in one system, those dependencies will be tracked and monitored by every stakeholder and so no one is left out of the loop.
It’s easy for projects to go off the rails through inadequate management and this in-part leads to delays, the undoing or redoing of work and providing free services. Therefore costs can spiral and the profitability of your project starts to spiral. PSA tools can not only identify these risks (even as early as the scoping phase) but also track performance to monetary goals. Having a costs wrapper across people, T&M and further factors important to your stakeholders means you’ll be on top of metrics like time-to-money plus with pre-built rate-cards, a feature of Precursive for example, no time is lost on spinning up a project budget dashboard. There are also hidden costs you’ll want to track like billable versus non-billable. With PSA + Salesforce you can map these costs in from the opportunity stage.
GET OUT OF SPREADSHEETS
Spreadsheets aren’t just clunky and slow, they are behind the project curve. They rely on constant and manual inputs to be operative and are often a static, often singular view of the project that has to be fed by other systems. Therefore you’ll never get a truly comprehensive view of your workload, your people, your costs or your effectiveness unless there's a convoluted and heavy spread of documents that likely time a long time to maintain and have one person managing (who if they left the business you’d be screwed). As mentioned, you’re already likely to be using Salesforce so you’re already storing customer data in a system; so you’ve already exited spreadsheets in favor of a CRM system - do the same for your Professional Services.
Put simply if you’re not using an automation tool here the process of time tracking is incredibly time-consuming, with accuracy likely an issue. PSA in Salesforce can automatically map hours worked into pre-populated time-sheets and further templates can adapt to the way you measure time in the business across forecasting, planning and execution to the eventual submission; the time data can run through the whole project from pre-sales to delivery. Also have you ever tried to get someone to fill out a timesheet? It is a task in itself, so being able to know who’s ahead and behind is no longer a worry with automatic reminders.