The Ultimate Guide To Professional Services Automation
Sometimes software is like magic. It gives you the power to launch, optimize, and complete projects, filled with menial tasks, in one fell swoop. Yet, many business leaders, office professionals, and service teams continue to operate the old-fashioned way. Relying on manual processes, spreadsheets, and unorganized post-it notes, instead of technical solutions designed to make work better. That’s what makes Professional Services Automation software so transformational.
A PSA helps professional service companies to retain existing customers and expand business by combining a potent mix of technologies that streamline how you manage the customer experience. This means you have more time and physical resources available for other crucial tasks - which can translate into substantial savings. In fact, any organization delivering professional services can benefit from a PSA system.
Imagine, by automating and streamlining communication between departments, a Professional Services Automation platform can help you serve customers better by turning outdated processes into efficient, high-performing solutions, keeping staffing lean and on-mission.
Ultimately, a fully-integrated PSA means giving your delivery teams better visibility and alignment around project status and your customers, better service. When done right, a PSA helps fuel higher margins, keeps projects on scope, and helps you meet customer expectations, and increases customer satisfaction.
In our Ultimate Guide To Professional Services Automation, we go deep into the reasons why you should consider making a PSA the hub of your accounting, customer service, marketing and critical business systems. The result being a more profitable business, more efficient teams, and happier customers.
Ready to discover the details? Read on.
Integrating a Professional Services Automation (PSA) platform into your company is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a business owner. The right PSA will help your teams run more efficiently and manage your entire service delivery from the sale to the last closed ticket and invoice sent. No matter what platform you choose, it is critical that it is the proper fit for your business.
Before upgrading to a PSA, businesses often run their sales and service delivery via email communication with their clients. When you do this, there is information coming in from email, phone calls, meetings, etc. and it is hard to keep it all organized. Requests can often get lost in the shuffle and important information can be hard to track down. Though leveraging email to communicate with clients works, leveraging email to facilitate your sales and service delivery does not.
Another common challenge is generating invoices. Without a PSA, employees usually have to manually log and track time and create invoices and proposals from a template. Some companies run Excel sheets, or they have Word documents or proposals—there's no real system or process.
When you bring in a PSA system like ConnectWise to your business, all of those fragmented pieces and processes are integrated into a single application. It connects your customer database, agreements, timesheets, contracts and invoices. Each step of the process is now more efficient because there is a designated place for all of your information.
A PSA doesn’t just offer ease and convenience, It also provides data and scalability. Without the right PSA managing your business, you're still putting out fires in all areas, from service delivery to sales, which can significantly hinder growth. It might be easy to run a business with a team of two people, but once you get to 15, 20 employees and beyond, you’ll run into big problems if you don't have a properly implemented PSA.
How to Optimize Your PSA
When you do select a PSA, there are few steps you can take to make ordinary progress even better.
- Define and establish your processes. If your processes are not defined well, they can’t be documented or adhered to properly.
- Integrate those processes with the software tool.
- Modify and enhance your PSA as your business grows.
Our Dream Process
In a perfect world, customer service would be a breeze, because every client interaction would go smoothly. In a perfect world, when a client creates a request ticket, that ticket is assigned to a technician who quickly resolves the issue, that resolution is communicated to the client, the ticket is closed and the happy client submits a 100% satisfaction survey. But we all know this isn’t how things go.
There are thousands of ways this simple interaction could go wrong, or at least sideways. The right Managed Service Provider (MSP) training can optimize your service delivery, ensuring you can manage requests and queries with maximum efficiency and minimum trouble.
Another common issue you may find is that sometimes the service delivery team is just disorganized. They're not meeting their Service Level Agreement (SLA), so they're not responding to their clients on time. Sometimes technicians aren't entering time properly, so it’s impossible to get accurate reporting out of the Professional Services Automation (PSA) system. Or they might just have overall client satisfaction issues just because they don’t have good ticket management or good ticket hygiene practices. Luckily, things aren’t always bad. There are ways to be successful, but it all starts with preparation.
Setup is Key
It’s important that your PSA is set up properly. There are many factors to consider when setting up your PSA, so it’s wise to leverage a PSA consultant. An expert consultant can take your team through specialized training and ensure workflows and automation are set up to meet your company’s needs.
It’s important to ensure that workflows are aligned with best practices. As service tickets travel from launch to resolution, each trigger and action needs to be designed to move that ticket along. This journey is the heart of your service delivery system. Make sure tickets are assigned in a timely manner and customers are responded to in accordance with your SLA. If you are regularly breaching your SLA, it’s time to revisit, update and optimize your workflow.
Simplicity Increases Efficiency
The less your team has to do to provide service, the better. If you have too many service boards set up, it can become confusing to determine where each ticket should be placed. If there are too many choices, it takes extra time to match each different type of ticket with so many options. Keep it as simple as possible—that will streamline your process and make your service delivery much more efficient.
Time entries can also become confusing and time-consuming. Sometimes your team has to pick a task or role that defines what type of work they're doing out of a list of 50 options. Oftentimes, they choose the wrong one, or they just leave it as the default because it's too many choices for them.
Good Data = Accurate Reporting
System entries like time or ticket information aren’t just part of providing customer service. They also provide the data you need to report profits and growth. As you track each ticket and log time, you can see how much it costs you to support each client every month.
For example, if the client has a Monthly Recurring Retainer (MRR) and you discover you are spending 200 service hours a month on that client, are you still making money with that client or do you need to adjust the MRR? This is the kind of scenario in which your PSA is going to help measure and accurately report ROI and profitability.
No amount of preparation will ever make service delivery smooth sailing. Speed bumps will almost be a 100% guarantee. But with the right processes in place, you can help make your job and client interactions much more seamless and pleasant.
All successful businesses are founded on an initial set of goals that help them navigate growth. Companies set goals based on size, growth, mission etc. But no matter how many business goals you set, at least one or more should be based on revenue.
As soon as a company starts bringing in revenue, it needs to track who owes money, how much and to whom. And to track that revenue, you have to have the right accounting software. No matter how big or small your company is, it’s important to find software that meets your needs. Think long term -- what will you need in five years, ten years, twenty? Look for something flexible enough to integrate features as you need them, in order to future-proof your choice.
Why You Should Set up an Accounting and Finance Program
A robust accounting and finance program is essential for company operations. It provides a good pulse on how the business is doing financially, and where funds are being allocated. When leveraged effectively, it provides an excellent gauge of how much revenue you're making month over month and year over year. It can also report the costs associated with making that revenue.
Accounting and finance are areas where expertise is essential. Many business owners are not accountants, but they're the ones doing the books. For something as important as revenue, it’s wise (and a worthwhile investment) to consult with an accounting expert who can help you set up the finance module in your Product Services Automation (PSA) system.
They’ll ask you questions like:
- What kind of revenue do you want to track?
- How do you want to break out different kinds of revenue?
- How do you want to measure costs associated with revenue in different expense accounts?
Using a PSA System for Accounting and Finance
Your PSA keeps track of all your hours, clients, inventory and agreements. Each of these elements directly affect revenue.
Tracking Employee Productivity
Inside your PSA, you can see where your employees are spending their time and track how much time you spend on each customer. If you're paying employees hourly, you need to accurately track their hours for payroll purposes and labor laws. For salaried employees, you’ll want to measure productivity.
Tracking Client Agreements
Your PSA also allows you to keep track of client agreements. If you have a monthly recurring revenue agreement with a client and the client pays X amount of dollars, how much effort is going into maintaining that client? What’s the ROI? If they’re paying you a thousand dollars, but you’re paying $2,000 in payroll to manage that client, that's obviously not a profitable relationship.
For Monthly Recurring Retainer (MRR) clients, we recommend a payment portal like Connect Booster. We strongly encourage clients to offer this tool when they sign up new clients. It's a great way to have clients on a monthly auto-pay program. It keeps your accounts receivable balances down, and keeps cash in the bank. From the company's perspective, it’s useful for predictable revenue, but clients like it too because it’s easy to use. It gives clients a nice, steady, predictable expense. It’s convenient for both parties.
Tracking Income and Taxes
The right PSA also helps with accurately reporting income and sales taxes. If you offer an employee benefits program, you can track and calculate the cost of those benefits. And if you match towards a 401(k), you can ensure that money from employee paychecks is going to the 401(k) company. A PSA will help you manage all of the processes and procedures that help ensure success and keep you in compliance.
Accounting and Finance: The More You Know
There are countless opportunities to leverage technology to keep a pulse on your business’s operations. And since Accounting and Finance are the functions most directly related to revenue, they are arguably the most important area of your business in which to do this.
Using a PSA to keep track of Accounting and Finance data will help your team get a handle on the health of your business. With this data, you can make the right decisions to grow revenue steadily and sustainably.
As a Managed Service Provider, you know that your business depends on not only providing exceptional service to your existing customer base but attracting new business. Small and medium-sized companies often struggle to manage their day-to-day operations. For these businesses, a Managed Service Provider is essential.
The relationships you build with your customers aren’t a short-term endeavor. You’ll be working with them far into the future. Therefore, it’s critical to show prospective clients that you have the skills and experience to handle their needs, especially if they are considering a switch from their current IT partner. To do that, you need to know how to leverage your marketing and sales strategy to reach your ideal customer and grow your business.
Create Consistent Brand Awareness
One of the essential pieces of branding is consistency. When you create a brand that is consistent in its messaging, look, and feel, your clients know what to expect from your Managed Service Provider business. To create consistency with your messaging and brand, follow these tips:
- Keep your website updated – The worst thing you can do is allow your website to become outdated and not reflect your brand as you are today. On the other hand, consistently posting fresh, relevant (not syndicated) content helps increase your reputation and increase your rankings on search engine results pages, as well as focus on the services you are currently trying to promote.
- Create a customized website experience – Utilize tools that track your website visitors’ behavior and preferences. When you find out how people use your website, you can build better relationships with current customers and get a lot more out of your marketing strategy. In addition, utilizing UX best practices makes all the difference in making your site easy to use (and easy to base a purchasing decision off of) for your prospective clients.
- Understand today’s B2B buying process –When you understand the sales process through the customer's eyes, you can reveal new branding strategies to consider. In today’s world, the process is more complex, and multiple players in an organization are part of the decision-making process.
By keeping your brand consistent with its messaging and feel, your clients and prospects gain trust in the services you provide and are readily assured that you’re an expert in your field.
Optimize Your Marketing & Sales For Progress
Optimizing your marketing is more than just writing blogs and creating grabby social media posts. While this does create a valuable SEO impact, it’s not the constant posting that creates the buzz. It’s providing the correct information to the right people. When you evaluate your website to track user flow and capitalize on the most-visited topics, you can build a better marketing and sales strategy to hit your KPIs.
In addition to optimizing your website, if you’re using a PSA to help your teams run more efficiently and streamline your processes and it’s not connected to a CRM, you’re losing out. A CRM can help you segment your client relationship and ticketing system from the marketing and sales engine. By separating the two, you can focus on the data where your marketing and sales strategies significantly impact. Just like you optimize your day-to-day operations for efficiency, your marketing and sales processes should perform just as well, if not better.
Create Predictable Revenue
Many businesses rely on word-of-mouth and referrals, proudly displaying reviews on their websites. This does a great job of increasing awareness and creating trust in your services, but you need a way to convert that into revenue. To get the most out of your marketing and sales strategy, the results you want should be measurable, scalable, and predictable.
To create a strategy that meets your goals, you need to ask yourself how your services align with the market and where improvements can be made. For example, when creating a marketing and sales strategy to build predictable revenue, ask yourself:
- How are your services delivered today?
- What processes are inefficient or broken?
- What are your end goals?
- Are there opportunities to increase efficiency?
- Are there repeatable processes that can be automated?
- Where can you improve the quality of the experience for your customers?
By positioning yourself correctly in your market, you create a strategy to meet your goals and increase your revenue. In addition, regularly reviewing your service offerings, updating your clients on the new technologies they can benefit from, and monitoring customer satisfaction keeps you from becoming complacent and risking your clients being siphoned off by the competition.
Cross-Sell And Up-Sell Opportunities
While it’s fantastic to add new clients, sales and marketing are not just about new business revenue. It’s also about the retention of existing clients. It’s easier and cheaper to sell to existing customers, and by providing additional services with new customers, you have to find ways to pitch and position your products to make the sale. By cross-selling and up-selling to current customers, they stay loyal to you and your brand and continue to buy from you.
Your analysis of customer data and your position in the market provides invaluable insight into customers’ products and needs. Use this information to develop new ways to solve problems for your current customers and create a whole new revenue stream that is predictable and scalable.
Implement The Right Tools
There are many tools to use for your business, WordPress for your website, MailChimp or Constant Contact for email marketing, and possibly a third-party vendor to create PDFs and other forms. It’s easy to assume that all of these tools will increase conversion rates and turn visitors into customers, but it’s not always that simple. By streamlining the process and integrating a CRM system where everything is built in one place and easy to use makes a huge difference.
Leveraging the right CRM to drive your marketing and sales strategy streamlines your entire customer process, from initial purchase to retention. Every person on your team can see reports and information, so they know what’s going on at any moment in time and provide consistent service across all channels.
Putting It All Together
Understanding the big picture of sales and marketing while focusing on the details helps you increase revenue and provide exceptional service to new and existing customers. When you leverage your marketing and sales strategies, you:
- Build Authority and Awareness for Your Technology Business
- Foster Trust and Credibility with Your Prospective Clients
- Create Predictive Models for Lead Generation by Defining Sales Processes
- Consistently Hone Your Tactics and Messaging to Attract Your Perfect Clients
- Document Your Process for Success So You Can Delegate as You Scale