Managed services provider (MSP) growth can grind to a halt under the burden of necessary, but time-consuming, business processes. A professional services automation (PSA) tool can turn that around by automating many day-to-day tasks and giving your staff the ability to focus more on clients and revenue.
In addition, a PSA tool collects data that lets you track key performance indicators (KPIs) and gain new insights into operations, employee performance, and client-by-client profitability. With just a few clicks, you can access reports and use data in new ways to inform decisions and help your business grow.
To maximize these benefits, however, you need to avoid missteps when it comes to selecting and deploying professional services automation. Here are five common, but damaging, mistakes MSPs make when it comes to implementing a PSA tool:
1. Choosing the First One You Demo
If you are using manual processes for tasks like project management, resource management, time tracking, and invoicing, you may think any PSA tool you demo is the answer you’ve been looking for. Most can demonstrate how they can solve the problem of not having enough hours in the day and how they can prevent billable time and services from falling through the cracks before invoicing.
But you should be choosy. There are many PSA tools on the market, each with different features, user interface designs, integration options, and security levels. Your new PSA tool will require a major investment of money, resources and time to implement and it will become an integral part of your operations, so make sure you hold out for the best option.
2. Not Maximizing ROI
Ideally, your PSA tool should pay for itself relatively quickly. With the time it saves your technicians and other employees, it should help you minimize labor costs and, perhaps, take on more clients without adding new employees. A lower priced PSA tool with fewer features may not deliver the same results compared with a full-featured solution that automates more processes. Price isn’t always an indicator of the best system, however. An expensive but complicated PSA tool may require a dedicated employee to manage it full-time, which may not result in ROI at all. With any PSA tool, you need to fully understand the costs associated with it — and make sure you aren’t paying for things you don’t need and there aren’t any hidden fees — so you accurately estimate ROI.
3. Setting an Unrealistic Timeline
You probably provide solutions to your clients that you can set up, configure and start to use in a day or two. A PSA tool doesn’t fall into that category. Professional services automation will likely impact operations in every area of your business, so you need a strategy for how to implement the solution across your organization, including how to:
- Best configure the tool to support your business
- Integrate the PSA tool with other business applications, such as remote monitoring and management (RMM) or quote management tool.
- Test the system testing to ensure correct alignment and correct issues when necessary
- Determine transactional, operational and customer data the system needs and plan data migration
- Consider implementation in phases across your organization
- Train employees, including tailoring users guides and other materials to your workforce
Set realistic goals for each step of implementation and don’t be tempted to rush through the process.
4. Forgetting the Importance of Employee Buy-In
In addition to the benefits a PSA tool provides your business, it can also mean significant benefits for your employees. With the right PSA tool, your technicians can focus on clients and not spend time each day prioritizing work or updating paperwork. Your accounting and marketing staff will find auto-populated data in their systems, rather than rekeying (and maybe mistyping) information. Managing customer requests through a client portal can mean fewer calls are disrupting your employees’ day.
But to get those benefits, your employees have to use the system the way you intend them to.
Throughout PSA tool implementation, keep your staff informed, ask for their feedback on what they’d like to change about your current processes, and communicate the advantages of the PSA tool you ultimately choose — stressing how it will make their lives easier. Including your staff in the implementation process and listening and responding to their concerns can give you a head start toward buy-in. Back this up with comprehensive training and ongoing support that enables them to get the most out of the new system.
5. Not Vetting the Vendor
Implementing a PSA tool means you are entering a long-term relationship with the professional services automation vendor. You will rely on the vendor to keep your PSA tool updated and maintained. You will also turn to the vendor when you need to troubleshoot problems.
Learn what you can about the vendor and their business track record. Talk to other users if possible, and ask about the vendor’s responsiveness to issues and the resources they dedicate to their customers. If your research raises red flags, it may be wise to choose a different PSA tool.
It’s Worth It
Selecting the right PSA tool and carefully and systematically implementing it takes time and effort, but the result will be a more productive and efficient business. Investing time and resources to achieve greater automation and visibility will elevate your business to a new level of competitiveness and profitability.