Man Drawing a Game Plan

Professional services is a $1.7 trillion dollar industry and growing — with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, the U.S. Department of Commerce has reported that the industry’s annual revenue grew 6.2% in 2016. This growth has attracted new players to enter the game and duke it out for coveted market share.

In such a large and growing market, it’s important that professional services and consulting firms have the tools they need to grow their business and rise above the competition. This is where professional services automation (PSA) software comes into play.

What Is Professional Services Automation Software?

Professional services automation software is a solution that helps firms run their service-based business and manage their business data. It is essentially an enterprise resource management tool for firms within the service industry. For example, PSA software offers time tracking, invoice management, sales forecasting, and other tools that assist with the operation of a professional services firm.

To give you a better idea of the types of professional services automation software that can give you a leg up against your competitors, check them out down below.

5 Types of Professional Services Automation Software

From billing to sales reporting, there are several types of professional services automation software that can impact your firm’s bottom line. And if you’re smart, you’ll find a PSA software solution that can offer or integrate all five.

Billing and Invoicing

Part of the struggle in any service-based business is staying on top of billable resources to make sure all time is tracked and invoiced in a timely manner. Some firms track billable hours across variable rate employees and some charge a flat blended rate. Whatever your process is, there is a PSA software out there that can fit your needs to help you more easily manage resource utilization and client invoicing. From automating billable hour tracking to template based invoicing, professional services automation software can ensure that you get it right every time. And with an increased accuracy in your billing, your clients will be more satisfied with the reduced human related errors, increased billing transparency, and more accurate billing cycles.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Customer relationship management is an important resource for professional services firms looking to differentiate themselves from the competition and win more business. In order for your sales or business development team to stay out in front of prospective clients and key accounts, they’ll need a CRM solution to maintain important data and information.

While a CRM tool can have a profound impact on your sales and business development efforts, most organizations struggle with user adoption and getting the desired return on investment. It’s important to remember that the data inside your CRM is only as good as the process by which your employees follow to get data entered. To save your team from having to do all of that manual work themselves, enhance your CRM with CRM data automation and sales intelligence.

For example, Introhive works alongside any CRM to track client, prospect, and vendor relationships automatically, reducing your team’s workload, accelerating database growth, and improving overall user productivity and efficiency. Not only does sales and business development benefit, but customer success teams have greater insight into the strength of client relationships, resulting in much higher customer satisfaction. If you haven’t pulled the trigger on a CRM system for your firm, this is a must have for any organization looking to keep up with the competition.

Project Management

As a professional services firm, you have communicated deadlines and provided estimates to your clients and those parameters can have a direct impact on future projects or upsell potential. I love a good Gantt chart in Excel, but when big client projects and deliverables are due, technology can help keep your teams on track. There are a number of project management solutions on the market today that won’t break the budget, from Basecamp and JIRA, to Trello and Monday. In professional services, time is money and too often your teams are wasting their time manually updating spreadsheet project plans that can be automated.

These PSA solutions are proven to lighten the workload and increase cross-team communication. Additionally, PSA’s come with backend reporting features to help your team paint a more accurate picture of how long projects take and how it impacts your profitability.

Resource Management

While process and data automation technology used by your firm can have a huge impact on profits, it’s your human capital that is your most precious resource within your firm. Your organization has a lot of moving parts, from your customer and client advisors, business development team, accounting department, and operations teams, there are a lot of resources that you need to manage. This is where an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can make a huge difference. ERPs let you see where your team is stretched thin and where you can take on more work, maximizing your firm’s potential output without risking employee burnout.

Reporting and Business Intelligence (BI)

Your organization is creating and capturing more information and data than teams have time to truly analyze. Strategically, business intelligence can be used to help your organization focus on the key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that are driving success. Business intelligence tools like Tableau and Insights Squared enable sales and business operations teams to crunch mountains of data down to insightful charts and graphics that help managerial decision making. Advanced reporting and business intelligence tools, increase focus on the metrics that matter most while delivering actionable insights regarding your firm’s performance to key stakeholder faster than ever before.

In addition to data visualization tools, relationship intelligence can help your business development team map their relationships for increased collaboration on key accounts. For example, Introhive can work alongside your CRM, ERP, email client, and other technologies to give you greater insight into the client relationships that are strong or at risk so you can proactively provide support and manage important relationships.