The First Step to Better PSA Use

By Pedro Pereira  |  Print this article Print


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Professional services automation was designed to help businesses run better by automating task and process tracking. Solution providers have used PSA to help their clients, but haven't done well in using it themselves. These best practices will keep PSA from becoming another piece of expensive shelfware.

Channel Insider asked developers and users of PSA software to share tips on how best to employ PSA software. Naturally, responses varied. One recommendation was to assign a "PSA champion" for the business, a staff member who lives and breathes the software and makes sure it gets implemented and used correctly.

What follows is a nine-item compilation of recommendations collected by Channel Insider. Solution providers looking to make the best use out of their PSA software would do well to take them to heart.

1. Define existing processes: By documenting your existing processes, you will get a handle on the challenges you are trying to overcome and start thinking about how the software will address those challenges. This is a crucial step because it’s hard to automate something that is undefined or that you don’t understand.

2. Be methodical: Since PSA does so much, it is wise to deploy the technology one department at a time. Start with the areas that need it most, the so-called pain points that hurt business productivity. "You can’t implement everything at once," says TigerPaw’s Foxall. "Prioritize first and create a strategy for approaching implementation."

3. Get on the same page: Everyone in the organization, from administrators to salespeople to engineers to top executives, must understand the software and use it for their jobs. "An integrated and hosted business management system used by everyone in an organization is inherently more efficient than individuals working in individual applications," says Bob Vogel, Autotask’s chief marketing officer.

4. Use the features: Make sure all employees are using it properly to document their work and track all billable time now, not later. Sponsler says his company even has trained engineers to enter notes and time spent at a client site into the PSA with their laptops before leaving the site. That way they don’t have to rely on faulty memories to update records later at the office.

5. Set goals: Use the PSA system to track employee performance, and schedule meetings regularly with staff to go over results. CoreConnex CEO Frank Coker says, "An even more advanced approach is to build an incentive compensation plan around specific performance measurements."

6. Integrate all services: Whatever work you do for your customer should be tracked by the PSA system. Some service providers integrate PSA with some services but not others, resulting in a chaotic approach. It’s best to set up the system to handle everything from ticket creation to billing, and thereby streamline processes that get convoluted and time-consuming when handled manually or with disparate applications.

7. Assess constantly: It’s important to keep the PSA current with whatever other tools you use. If you add a new managed services platform for remote monitoring and management or a backup and recovery system, make sure to evaluate whether it plugs into the PSA system and how the systems interplay. Integration between systems allows providers to expand customer services and, as a result, increase revenues.

8. Set parameters: Most solution providers use PSA and managed services tools to handle both fixed-fee projects and services for which they charge utilitylike monthly or quarterly fees. Mixing the records from these disparate models can lead to trouble, so keep them separate. "If these are lumped together, the results will get diluted and profits erode," says Coker. "This is a tough concept to manage because the psychology and the motivations are diametrically opposed."

9. Be transparent: Show all staff utilization numbers to the entire staff, thereby creating peer pressure and motivating people to constantly strive to improve their performance.



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