The managed service provider (MSP) market is booming. It was worth more than $152 billion in 2020 and could surpass $274 billion by 2026. While this growth is encouraging, it also means MSPs must become more efficient as their workloads rise.
Professional services automation (PSA) tools can help. These programs automate routine tasks like billing, reporting, and schedule management to help teams be more efficient. MSPs can then complete more projects in less time with fewer mistakes. Many MSPs even use them for CRM functionality too.
Also read: The Best Help Desk Tools for MSPs
What Is PSA Software?
PSA tools are comprehensive programs that streamline administrative processes to let service businesses provide better customer service and reduce costs. Many MSPs rely on specialized tools for invoicing, scheduling, time tracking, resource planning and business intelligence, but PSA combines them.
This consolidation lets teams handle all these processes from the same platform and reduces what businesses spend on them. As the name implies, these programs also include automation features to boost productivity further. What they automate varies between solutions, but this automation often covers routine, repetitive tasks like data entry and billing.
PSA software is similar to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software but for service organizations. Like ERP, PSA centralizes and automates business processes and data to enable a more efficient, consistent, and transparent project lifecycle.
A CRM solution for MSPs
Most MSPs also use their PSAs for customer relationship management (CRM) rather than pay extra for a standalone CRM solution, notes Forrester channel analyst Jay McBain.
“Most MSPs either can’t afford Salesforce or don’t have the scale to make it successful,” McBain said. “There are some homegrown solutions like Honey but most MSPs use their PSA for CRM functionality.”
Key PSA Features to Look For
Effectively capitalizing on this software relies on teams selecting the right option for their needs. The right solution depends on a business’s specific situation, but there are a few key features every team should look for. PSA features should cover:
- Time tracking
- Project management
- Billing automation
- Resource management
- Reporting tools
- Collaboration services
Functions that track workers’ capacity and skills to improve matching consultants to projects are also ideal. Teams should also look for solutions that offer more extensive automation and insight into each step of the project lifecycle.
With these factors in mind, here are the top 10 PSA tools for MSPs in 2022:
1. Netsuite OpenAir
Netsuite OpenAir is the most widely used cloud solution for services companies, boasting more than 1,500 customers. OpenAir aims to be the only software solution MSPs need by automating processes across virtually every step. That includes invoicing, timesheet management, reporting, and expense tracking.
Automation typically doesn’t make mistakes like humans do in these processes, so these features help MSPs avoid potentially costly, time-consuming errors. OpenAir is also available across multiple platforms, so teams can access real-time data from anywhere. It integrates with other apps teams might use, such as Salesforce and QuickBooks.
Atera combines PSA with remote monitoring and management (RMM) in one cohesive package. This lets users automate repetitive tasks while searching for and fixing potential errors wherever they may be. The platform’s automation tools are extensive, even finding opportunities to upsell and patch software automatically.
Atera’s pricing makes it ideal for smaller or newer MSPs. There are no contracts or deposits, and the company offers a 30-day free trial. A straightforward onboarding process makes it easier for employees to get used to the new system, enabling a quicker return on investment (ROI).
Security is a leading issue with cloud-based systems, with 93% of surveyed organizations saying they’re concerned about cloud security. To help assuage these concerns, Datto’s Autotask emphasizes its security and reliability. The PSA solution boasts consistent 99.99% uptime and leading security features.
The service also focuses on consolidation, providing a single window into all of an MSP’s operations. Open architecture and more than 200 third-party integrations let teams customize the platform to suit their needs better, accessing everything they need and nothing they don’t.
Another highly customizable PSA solution is monday.com. The platform, which refers to itself as a “work OS,” has garnered more than 127,000 customers thanks to its comprehensive offerings. It includes automation for millions of manual tasks, multiple data visualization options, custom workflows, and more.
Monday.com also features extensive communication tools to help teams stay on track and avoid errors. This is especially valuable for MSPs with remote workforces. Templates and user-built workflows make it easier for teams to narrow down which services they need.
5. FinancialForce PSA
A more focused solution is FinancialForce PSA, which specializes in service-based organizations using Salesforce. FinancialForce is based on the Salesforce platform, offering the same scalability, integrations, and ease of use. Many of its tools focus on streamlining workflows and maximizing visibility, which are crucial for MSP operations.
When TCrown, a web experience MSP, turned to FinancialForce, it saw impressive results. The company reduced revenue forecasting time to four hours a week from 40 and was able to forecast 10 scenarios per week instead of one.
Also read: The Top 22 IT Channel Partners of 2022
6. Polaris PSA
Like FinancialForce, Polaris PSA focuses on delivering value by maximizing data visibility. The platform claims to create a reliably accurate single source of truth by gathering and consolidating information across project, resource, finance, and other operations. Automated tools then analyze this data to offer actionable insights and recommendations.
Of course, Polaris’s automation services go beyond data analysis. It also automates billing, time tracking, risk assessment, and alerts. Real-time updates give teams insights into developing situations, helping them aid customers faster. It’s also OS-agnostic, making it more accessible to a broader user base.
SuperOps.ai combines PSA and RMM capabilities under a unified platform. This gives teams more control over their operations than some other cloud-based solutions, and customizable automated actions take that further. Data from computerized tasks automatically log into the service desk module to provide real-time transparency across operations.
One thing to keep in mind is that SuperOps.ai doesn’t automate all tasks by default. Some may require setting up a custom automation or integrating with a third-party service.
8. ConnectWise Manage
ConnectWise offers many similar cloud-based solutions for MSPs, with Manage being its PSA software. The platform aims to create a single data layer to help teams clarify current operations and streamline processes.
Manage centers on a help desk ticketing system, with all other features feeding into it to provide clarity and a single point of control. Companies that want to expand what they can do on this platform will find it integrates seamlessly with ConnectWise’s other offerings, such as its RMM solution. An on-premises version is also available for those unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the cloud.
9. Upland PSA
Upland PSA, formerly Tenrox, focuses on helping MSPs deliver better outcomes for their customers. With some clients seeing 18% increases in service revenue across three years, that goal seems within reach.
The platform includes timesheet and expense automation, resource management tools, data analytics, and project management services under one umbrella. Upland also offers several add-on services to take these features further, but these will raise costs.
10. Kaseya BMS
Kaseya offers three separate tools for MSPs: VSA, BMS, and ITGlue. While all can be beneficial and integrate with one another, BMS is the company’s PSA solution.
Like ConnectWise Manage, Kaseya BMS uses a help desk ticketing system at its core. From there, teams can allocate work, run cost estimates, manage billing, and more. This solution focuses specifically on IT operations and is a valuable tool for MSPs in that arena.
The Right PSA Tool Can Be a Substantial Help
PSAs are a crucial tool for MSPs in today’s fast-moving and competitive market. To experience all the benefits these solutions have to offer, teams must first understand what’s available.
MSPs that know what options they have can choose the right PSA tool for their needs. This allows them to optimize their operations and provide more value to customers, which, after all, is what being an MSP is all about.