What is Professional Services Automation? PSA Software Guide

Professional services automation software is the way for agencies to increase efficiency, improve project delivery, and support business growth.

How do PSA software solutions achieve this?

Through a wide range of features for professional services agencies, including project planning, financial management, and human resources scheduling.

Businesses such as design agencies, marketing firms, software development companies, and creative agencies can all benefit from optimized professional service management.

Let’s explore the benefits of solutions for professional services firms in more detail, starting with:

What Is PSA Software or Professional Services Automation Software?

Professional services automation software is a type of tool designed to help professional services organizations manage and optimize their business operations.

It provides a centralized platform that integrates various functions and business processes, including benefits for optimized workflows, increased profit margins, maximized productivity, and improved delivery.

Who Is Professional Services Automation For?

PSA software is a solution designed to cater to the needs of a business within the professional services industry.

This includes:

The difference between project management and PSA software is that project management software provides more generalized features for collaboration and task planning.

On the other hand, a PSA tool is focused primarily on supporting professional services in their day-to-day operations.

The Benefits of Professional Services Automation Tools

  • Automate and streamline repetitive tasks
  • Provide data-driven insights for informed decision-making
  • Optimize resource allocation and project delivery
  • Easily adapt to business growth and evolving needs
  • Minimize manual administrative tasks

The Downsides of Professional Services Software

Depending on your firm’s requirements and implementation goals, consider these potential drawbacks when searching for your best option:

  • Insufficient customization for specific agency workflows
  • High costs for ongoing maintenance and system upgrades
  • Focusing on top-down management rather than team collaboration
  • Lack of features resulting in having to invest in multiple tools

For example, if you’re using a project management methodology such as agile, you might not have a need for robust customization. Or, if you don’t have sensitive data, an on-premise enterprise resource planning solution is probably not the best investment.

Always consider what the core benefits and downsides mean for your agency context.

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Key Features of PSA Professional Services Automation

The best PSA software is a comprehensive solution for agency operations, including features such as:

  • Project Management: The right PSA software offers project management features for progress tracking and task management, such as multiple views, milestones, and team collaboration features.
  • Time Tracking: This includes features such as billable vs non-billable hours differentiation, manager approvals, and the creation of timesheets on the platform.
  • Project accounting: Budgeting and billing capabilities should be included so project managers can handle project financials and streamline repetitive tasks.
  • Resource Management: Resource planning supports the balanced scheduling of resources, contributing to employee satisfaction and improved project delivery.
  • Business Intelligence: BI capabilities usually include streamlined creation and sharing of reports, such as pulling data from platform activities and creating specialized dashboards.

These capabilities should ideally be integrated into one platform to streamline workflows and reduce IT overhead.

I guess I probably never thought I could find a tool that was end-to-end: from leads, through management, financials, insights and reporting. Having it all in one has allowed us to drop a couple of the other platforms we used. That was probably the single biggest thing—reducing the amount of tools, platforms, and systems, and using just one.

Brendon Nicholas,
Co-founder and Technical Director AT DotDev

Cloud Vs On-Premise PSA Software Solutions

While both types have unique benefits, research from the Aberdeen Group shows that cloud-based solutions provide 26% faster time-to-ROI and 46% faster time-to-implementation compared to on-premise solutions.

Here’s a brief overview of the main differences between the two types of PSA systems:

On-premise Systems: Hosted on a business’s own servers, these systems offer extensive customization but require significant IT expertise, a larger initial investment, and ongoing licensing fees. They provide advanced data control and security, making them ideal for businesses needing to meet strict data compliance and resist data breaches

Cloud-based PSA Solutions: Known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), these are vendor-managed and internet-accessible, offering flexible implementation and pricing, usually monthly or annual. They reduce IT overhead but may be less suitable for businesses that handle sensitive information or complex projects.

How to Successfully Implement PSA Software

  • Set clear goals: The first question you should answer is:What do you want or need the new solution to do for your business? This requires a deep understanding of your agency’s specific context and how modern technology can support your business. Make sure to set these goals clearly and guide your implementation and later utilization of the solution toward achieving them.
  • Foster team alignment: After setting clear implementation targets, engage every project team, from C-level to ground-level staff. Organize training and testing sessions and maintain open communication for feedback, ensuring each department understands and supports the tool’s role in the organization.
  • Integrate workflows: Updating outdated workflows is key to maintaining a competitive edge, but it’s important to recognize which existing systems are effective and worth keeping. Opting for software that can integrate separate systems into a single application is often a good choice, as it allows for a more seamless transition and continuity in operations.

How Are Professional Services Automation Tools Used in IT Support

PSA software in IT support is used to streamline various operational aspects of the process. This includes:

  • Project management
  • Resource allocation
  • Client billing and communication

These tools also enhance data consistency and access (consider Productive’s customizable Permissions Builder to manage who can see and do what with your data).

IT managers can utilize PSA software in capacity planning for IT services to monitor performance metrics, optimize workflows, reduce operational costs, and improve overall service delivery

Professional Services Automation Software Comparison

Here’s a handy list of the top 5 professional services and agency management systems, with key features, benefits, and downsides based on user reviews:

1. Productive – One of The Best Professional Services Tools

Productive is an all-in-one PSA software solution that serves as a single source of truth for agencies across the professional service industry.

Productive covers financial reporting, daily tasks, project delivery, expense reporting, and much more.

It replaces disjointed systems with an end-to-end platform that will help you grow as a service provider.

Key features include:

  • Project management: Switch between multiple project views (Kanban, Gantt, and more), create templates, organize and manage task progress, and share updates with clients.
  • Time tracking: Productive simplifies time tracking with a built-in tracker, manual logging, and syncing with resource planning bookings for automatic timesheet creation.
  • Resource planning: Schedule your resources and balance workloads across multiple and individual projects. You can also forecast key financial metrics, manage time off, and achieve optimal billable utilization with real-time insights.
  • Budgeting: Track project financials and make sure you’re staying on top of your expenses with Billing and Purchase Orders. Simplify retainer management with recurring budgets, track budget burn or project margins on a company level, and save time by accessing crucial information with one click.
  • Reporting: Create a report from scratch or use one of Productive’s 50+ agency-focused templates. Pull data from various platform activities, from time tracking and budgeting to task management, and share real-time insights with key team members.
  • Automations: Create no-code automations to make your manual processes more efficient — such as sending a message to Slack automatically when a task has been updated.

Additional features include: Sales, Docs, Productive AI, Permissions Builder

GEt real-time insights into professional services KPIs with Productive


  • Plans start with the Essential plan at $9 per user per month, which includes essential features such as budgeting, project & task management, docs, time tracking, expense management, reporting, and time off management.
  • The Professional plan includes custom fields, recurring budgets, advanced reports, billable time approvals, and many more for $24 per user per month.
  • The Ultimate plan has everything that the Essential plan and Professional plan offer, along with the HubSpot integration, advanced forecasting, advanced custom fields, overhead calculations, and more for a custom price.
  • You can also check out the Enterprise Plan with custom pricing for companies that would include more than 50 active users per month.

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If you’re looking to switch from WorkflowMax, Productive is one of the top WorkflowMax competitors. Head over to our article to learn more.

2. ConnectWise

ConnectWise Manage is a robust professional services automation tool that offers end-to-end automation for IT service providers. It streamlines project management, ticketing, and billing processes.


ConnectWise Manage provides extensive integrations with various tools, fostering a unified ecosystem for agency operations. The learning curve for new users can be steep, requiring time and effort to be able to use the full capabilities.

3. Autotask Corporation (Datto)

Autotask, now part of Datto, is a comprehensive PSA software designed to streamline operations for managed service providers (MSPs) and IT support teams. It offers a wide range of features to optimize workflows and enhance client relationships, such as SLA and contract management, project management and task tracking, and CRM.

source: autotask

Autotask provides robust reporting and analytics tools, empowering agencies to gain insights into their business performance and make data-driven decisions. A small business with fewer complex engagements with clients might find the tool overwhelming, as it offers a vast array of features that may not be fully utilized.

4. Deltek

Deltek is a comprehensive professional services automation tool designed for architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms. It offers end-to-end project management for architects, resource planning, and financial management features tailored to the specific context of these industries.

source: deltek

Deltek provides industry-specific functionality and compliance capabilities that cater to the unique needs of AEC firms, facilitating streamlined project execution. The tool can be complex and overwhelming for agencies operating in industries outside of AEC, as some features may not be relevant or applicable.

5. Scoro

Scoro is a comprehensive professional service tool that offers project planning, time tracking, and billing features. It caters to the needs of professional services firms, combining CRM functionality with robust collaboration capabilities.

source: scoro

Scoro provides powerful reporting and analytics features, enabling agencies to gain insights into project performance and make data-driven decisions. Some users have reported occasional glitches or slow performance, which can be a hindrance during busy periods or when handling large projects. Accelo, another popular project management tool, offers similar capabilities. Comparing Scoro vs Accelo can help determine which tool better suits your needs.

How to Find the Best PSA Software

PSA is an essential tool for agencies seeking to optimize project management, resource allocation, and overall operational efficiency.

Focus on finding a solution with a user-friendly design, a growth mindset, and responsive customer service to get the most out of your service automation platform.

If you’re looking for a modern solution with comprehensive features for agencies, book a demo with Productive today.


What is PSA in software?

PSA refers to professional services automation, or the type of software designed to help professional services agencies streamline their operations to improve efficiency and profitability.

What is a PSA system?

A PSA system is a comprehensive tool for managing project operations, tracking costs, and increasing profitability in professional services companies. It integrates various functions, maximizing efficiency across all departments.

What is a PSA application?

A PSA application, PSA software, or PSA solution is a kind of software designed to manage your professional services agency’s operations. PSA usually includes task management, cost and revenue tracking, and various workflow automation capabilities.

What is PSA in Salesforce?

PSA in Salesforce is offered with a native application from Certinia. It supports the management of professional services teams in integrated software. Included features are project management and revenue and profit margin tracking.

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Margarita Aranza

Marketing Assistant

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