That’s it. You’ve had it. The communication mishaps. The workflow interruptions. The lost invoices. And all the paper files, spreadsheets, whiteboards, or maybe even 10 different software platforms it takes to keep your business running.
You know that’s no way to run your business efficiently, let alone grow it at the pace you deserve. If you’re ready to find professional services automation (PSA) software that will allow you to spend more time generating revenue and less time on mundane administration and management, you’ve come to the right place.
But where do you start? Here are 17 must-have features to look for in a PSA software platform:
1. CRM and account management
To start with, you have to have a place to store all your customer and prospect account information. Beyond the basic contact details, a good PSA (just like a plain ol’ CRM) will track every interaction — phone call, email, in-person visit, etc. — and allow you to access historical data as well as real-time entries.
2. Sales automation
Your sales team needs complete visibility into the sales pipeline as well as the ability to identify and focus on opportunities with the greatest revenue potential. That means access to tools to analyze what’s working and what’s not.
Unlike many CRMs, PSAs also offer workflow automation that will send reminders to complete a task, such as a follow-up phone call to a prospect, or reminders about a warranty expiration, which is an easy way to open sales talks with existing customers.
3. Proposal and quote generation
You’re a professional and you want your proposals and quotes to reflect professionalism, too. That’s why you should make sure your PSA software allows you to quickly generate a clean, attractive document with accurate data easily displayed. To make that happen, your PSA needs to offer templates that allow you to match your brand, plus the ability to pull parts and labor information from your inventory and price book.
Many PSAs will also allow the workflow to continue after a quote or proposal has been approved, easily converting it into a service order for dispatch to assign to a technician or a project to be mapped out and tasks assigned.
4. Tracking contracts and agreements
Once your proposal or quote is approved, you need a place to enter the details of the deal and a way to keep track of the terms. You want a platform that automatically tallies usage, compiles reports, and makes it easy to analyze the data and make adjustments. This ensures you’re making a profit while your customers receive the level of service you promised.
If you’re running your business under a recurring revenue model, make sure your PSA can manage those types of agreements as well. (And if you’re not, take a look at this option, which will have a huge impact on the valuation of your business when you’re ready to sell someday. Newsflash: You should be building your business to sell, even if you’re not selling.)
5. Service ticketing management
A service ticketing system is at the heart of a well-functioning PSA. Work orders are not only needed for a new job but also for ongoing customer visits. It’s imperative this system doesn’t let anything fall through the cracks. So, make sure your PSA will do the heavy lifting for you, like automatically creating service tickets from customer emails, pulling real-time asset details, and sending alerts when tickets have been open for a set amount of time.
6. Technician time and utilization tracking
Beyond capturing employee time logs, the best PSA software platforms allow you to track billable time, downtime, and travel time so you know exactly how your technicians are spending their time.
The industry goal is that techs should spend about 80 percent of their work hours doing billable work. With your PSA, you can track that number and then reward those hitting that goal, adjust scheduling, and look at contract profitability to make sure that you’re maximizing your techs’ time and your profitability.
7. Purchasing and receiving
Real-time is the name of the game with purchasing and receiving. Just like inventory, you need and want the details as they happen. A good PSA will not only provide complete purchase order workflow, delivery tracking and RMA processing, but also offer real-time price book lookup capabilities.
8. Inventory control
Inventory is something that touches every department and really impacts the bottom line, so you need to be able to rely on your PSA software to help you manage the complete supply chain. Real-time, accurate data sounds basic, but there are PSAs out there that don’t do this very well if you are running or plan to add multiple lines of business.
Make sure your PSA can provide visibility into inventory at every location (including work trucks), automatically send notifications when stock levels are low or a product is nearing the end of its lifespan, and generate value and profitability reports.
9. Real-time, serialized asset tracking and RMM integrations
On its own, your PSA also should offer real-time asset tracking so that you can manage your products and services, like hardware (or HaaS), software (or SaaS), content filtering, remote off-site backup, and warranties.
These days, it seems like you’re either already a managed services provider (MSP) or you’re looking to add managed IT to your business. That means your PSA also must have integrations to industry-leading remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools, no matter which one you use.
10. Project management
Successful and profitable projects demand information from many different areas to accurately track progress. From budget, materials, labor usage, and timelines, PSA software should be able to track all of it. That gives you insight into the status of all projects from a single portal at any time, keeping things moving in the right direction.
11. Billing and invoicing
With PSA software, you should never lose another invoice or forget to bill a customer ever again. Sounds pretty awesome, right? So make sure the solution you pick can auto-generate and auto-send invoices based on service tickets, project status, SLAs, and more.
In addition, your PSA should be able to handle payment processing, whether it’s automatic or one-time with a credit card or ACH.
12. Accounting integration
Unlike an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, PSAs generally do not have a baked-in accounting feature. But that’s a good thing. Instead of trying to find an accountant who knows that specific PSA software, you can hire one that knows top accounting packages like QuickBooks and Sage. (Plus, accountants can be particular when it comes to what software they use to manage the books. Don’t mess with them.) And you’re able to do that when you pick a PSA that has integrations to one or more of those accounting systems.
13. Reports and analytics
A PSA software platform will house all your data. You can input data all day long. But you also need to be able to have it spit out some data. Make sure the PSA you choose can generate reports for your team to analyze, such as financial projections, employee time and utilization, expenses, and contract profitability, just to name a few.
14. Mobile app and online portals
It’s the modern digital world, so of course your PSA software needs to have a mobile app that your sales team and technicians can use while they’re in the field to pull information and enter it. The best PSA software mobile apps will also provide payment processing on-the-go as well as signature capture.
In addition, some PSAs also offer online customer portals that enable your customers to open service tickets, approve quotes or proposals, pay a bill, and other great tools. And all those actions should then send an automatic notification to you in the PSA application.
15. Implementation and training
A PSA software platform is a beast. It will completely change — for the better — how you and your company operate on a day-to-day basis. So make sure the one you choose offers dedicated training and resources to help you and your team get up and running smoothly and successfully.
This usually comes in the form of an assigned training specialist who checks in with you to make sure you are completing all the necessary steps as well as showing you how to start using the product.
16. Ongoing support
Even with all the upfront training, you will still need ongoing support from your PSA software company. Be sure to find one that offers free, live technical help — preferably with staff located in your country. That sounds pretty straightforward, but there are many solutions on the market that charge for every phone call or email to the support department. Others only offer support via email with no escalation options. Or you end up talking to someone in a call center on the other side of the world that doesn’t care about your business. That can be very frustrating and costly.
In addition to technical support, check out what kind of ongoing training opportunities your PSA software company offers. Do they have online training available that you can incorporate into your new hire onboarding process? Are there any community forums where you can ask questions of fellow business leaders? These are all important questions to ask up front.
17. Culture and fit
And, finally, because PSA software will be such a big part of your business, you should choose a product and partner that you like working with and can trust. You treat your people like they matter more than anything; shouldn’t your PSA partner treat you the same way?
Are you ready for better?
Don’t waste any more time or money on second best. Begin your search for PSA software today so you can enjoy all the benefits that come with running a better business—starting with sleeping better at night! We’ve even put together this free and handy PSA Checklist to help you out.