Not long ago, we helped MSPs pick the right remote monitoring and management (RMM) platform for them, and make it an essential part of their service toolkit. As you may recall, an RMM is a tool that helps MSPs do the work. And what better way to track the work—and other elements associated with it—than to have professional service automation (PSA) software do it for you?
"Do we really need a PSA?"
A PSA is, essentially, an all-in-one tool that helps MSPs manage an array of tasks, such as project management, collaboration, invoicing, ticketing, resource planning, and reporting and data analysis (to name a few), of every client project, throughout its lifecycle. It keeps all data and processes about a project available and linked in one place, so MSPs can see the big picture and waste no time making decisions or adjustments as needed. Some may think and liken PSA software to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software for MSPs.
Many MSPs are realizing that they have little time and patience to waste on tedious and time-consuming tasks when they could have been doing more productive things. If you’re an organization that is just breaking into the MSP world, or already have years of experience, "Do we really need a PSA?" should no longer be the question you ask.
A PSA is not just a nice-to-have anymore. It has become an integral and critical platform that MSPs must have to scale effectively and profitably. What you should be asking instead is "Which PSA is right for my business?"
Benefits of using a PSA
Gone are the days when PSAs were akin to helpdesk software. They have evolved beyond merely managing support tickets and tasks. The modern-day PSA’s kit can offer (but is not limited to) the following benefits:
- Significantly cut the time it takes to search for documentation
- Reduced time spent on doing repetitive tasks
- Improved service level agreements (SLAs)
- Accurate tracking and recording of onsite services from start to finish
- Automatic generation of billing statements
- Efficient management of customer engagement
- Automatic patching and system updating
- Increased customer satisfaction
- A uniform consolidation of data used to make mission critical decisions
Know that each PSA in the market right now offers different solutions and bundles, and that MSPs could be impacted by them differently as well.
Of course, not every benefit above is what MPSs would want.
Not all MSPs, for example, want a suite that automatically applies patches to the system, because they would rather do some rigorous testing themselves first, before deployment. Picking the right PSA eventually boils down to what your organization needs, what you want to automate and/or improve on, and what best fits into your business practices and processes.
PSA considerations for the smart MSP
Before MSPs can take a deep dive into implementing a PSA suite, they must realize that this is no easy feat. It is a time-consuming, disruptive, and sometimes expensive task to undertake. But patience and perseverance have their rewards. Here are three simple questions MSPs should ask when deciding which PSA to pick.
"How well does it integrate with our other tools?"
While a PSA houses all of an MSP's data under one virtual roof and boasts an assortment of other tools for their employees to use, it’s not the only system the business uses. An MSP could have its own bespoke customer relationship management (CRM) tool or use other systems from third parties, too, such as an accounting, data backup and recovery, RMM, and, of course, endpoint security software. Make sure that the PSA of your choice can achieve deep integrations with the tools you rely on.
"Is it scalable?"
Every organization’s goal is to grow its customer base, making it especially important for MSPs to have a PSA that can scale with its growth. Pick a PSA that has been designed and built with scalability in mind, so it can cope with these "growing pains".
On an additional note, you will want to know how the cost of the PSA will change as your business grows. Make sure that it’ll still be within a reasonable budget and sustainable in the long run.
"Will it help us achieve accountability and efficiency?"
One of the main reasons for using a PSA is to bridge those gaps that are inherently found in disparate systems used by different departments in an organization. A good PSA should be able to eradicate siloed data by tracking, recording, and reporting everything. This way, employees are expected to perform tasks efficiently and in a timely manner, clients are provisioned with the best resources to get issues resolved quickly, and bills are issued accurately.
"Can it provide data that’ll help us make informed decisions?"
A PSA can also help MSPs handle unforeseen hurdles, such as customer security issues, or delays in project deliveries. Your choice of PSA should be capable of not only collecting and keeping data from different departments but also processing, analyzing, and presenting it to your users in a way that shows trends, reveals problem points, and forecasts needs, so that you can make improvements, create plans months ahead, and effectively respond to security threats.
All we need is time
Of all the different assets MSPs must manage efficiently in order to be profitable and remain competitive, the most important is time. And what better way to manage time than to automate important but mundane daily tasks, so employees can make better use of their time and provide a higher level of security to customers. That said, the choice of investing or not investing in a PSA is no longer up for debate for MSPs. The benefits of having one as part of your toolkit just far outweighs the costs and initial challenges that naturally come with change. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad you went for one.