PSA Software: All About Professional Services Automation Software

Whether it’s maintaining project margins, finding the right talent, or delivering projects on schedule, professional services agencies face some unique challenges.

Where homegrown solutions fail, PSA software steps in to help businesses such as marketing firms, software development companies, or architectural firms with manual processes, project management, financial reporting, and much more.

In this article, we’ll cover the topic in detail, including what PSA software is, how best to implement it, and its benefits and downsides.

If you’re interested primarily in our list of the top PSA software available, click here to skip ahead.

What Is PSA Software or Professional Services Automation Software?

According to the 2022 State of Process Automation survey, respondents report that about 48% of their organization’s processes are currently automated, a growth of 2 percentage points from 2020. Assessments for future trends are realistic, but show a desire to continue automating agency operations – in the next 24 months, respondents expect automation to increase by up to 4 percent.

Professional services automation software is a critical tool to support this automation initiative. Also known as professional services automation software, PSA is a type of agency management software designed to help professional services organizations manage and optimize their business operations.

It provides a centralized platform that integrates various functions and processes involved in delivering professional services such as: optimizing workflows, increasing profit margins, maximizing productivity, and improving service delivery. Various agency types, such as consultancy, marketing, design, or development can use PSA software.

Key Features of Professional Services Automation Tools

The best PSA software functions as a comprehensive solution for agency operations. This includes features such as:

  • Project Management: The right PSA software offers capabilities for project 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.
  • Invoicing: Budgeting and billing should be included so that project managers can handle project financials and streamline repetitive tasks.
  • Resource Management: Resource and capacity management support the allocation of resources, contributing to employee satisfaction and improved project delivery.
  • Business Intelligence: BI capabilities usually include streamlined creation and sharing on reports, such as pulling data from platform activities and creating specialized dashboards.

All of 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

List of Benefits

The ideal PSA software can:

  • 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

List of Downsides

Some potential disadvantages of PSA solutions include:

  • 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

Depending on your firm’s requirements and implementation goals, consider these potential drawbacks when searching for the right PSA software.

For example, if you’re using a project management methodology such as agile, you might not have a need for robust customization. Always consider what common PSA benefits and downsides mean for your specific agency context.

Our List of the Top 10 PSA Software Currently Available

Here’s our list of the best professional services automation solutions available on the market, with core features, benefits, and downsides based on user ratings from G2 and Capterra.

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 a full-cycle platform that will help you grow as a service provider.

Project Management

With the Project Management feature, you can break down your projects with clients into tasks and to-dos, which can then be assigned to people who need to do them. This way, you can set up workflows that make it easier for project managers to track project life cycles.

Team leaders or project managers can give feedback directly to the people working on tasks and projects in the comments. Stay in contact with key project stakeholders and keep all of your important information easily accessible and up-to-date.


manage projects and tasks with productive

You also have the option to set up repetitive tasks for anything that needs to be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Time Tracking

Time tracking was made to be simple in Productive. There’s a built-in tracker that you can start once you get to work on a specific task or project and the hours you’ve spent working on it will automatically be transferred to your time sheet. If you prefer a more manual approach, you can still do your time sheets by logging all your tasks separately at the end of the day.

Learn more: 13 Best Agency Time Tracking Software in 2023

Resource Planning

With Resource Planning you can forecast resources, which is especially important for successful project delivery within the professional services industry. You’ll know who can take on more work and who’s overworked, you can also manage vacation time, sick leave, and days off with Productive.


Achieve optimal utilization with productive

Budgeting and Reporting

With Budgeting, you can track project financials and be sure you’re staying on top of your expenses. You can track project budgets or profit margins on a company level and save time by having all of your necessary information available in just a few clicks.

make data-driven decision with Reports

With Reporting, you can gain real-time visibility of your agency’s overall business health. With real-time data, you’ll have actionable reports that support data-driven decision-making.

From a managerial point of view, the main benefit of the tool is seeing your profitability in real time. It’s there. We don’t have to calculate it or ask for financial reports from our accountant.

Nika Serdoner,
Project Manager at ENKI

Additional features include Billing, Sales and Docs.

Pricing

  • 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.

You can go for a free 14-day free trial before you decide to check out a paid plan.

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2. ConnectWise – A Fair Software System for Agencies

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.

Key Features:

  • Project tracking
  • Time and expense management
  • Issue tracking
  • Billing and invoicing automation


SOurce: connectwise

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. Certinia – A Solid Option for Marketing Agencies

Certinia is a professional services automation solution tailored for marketing agencies, providing a centralized platform for efficient project management, collaboration, and resource allocation.

Key Features:

  • Project and task tracking
  • Team collaboration and communication tools
  • Resource allocation and capacity management
  • Analytics and advanced reporting for performance monitoring


Source: certinia

Certinia offers a user-friendly interface and customizable dashboards, empowering agencies to adapt the tool to their specific needs. Some users have reported occasional performance issues, such as slow loading times for large projects.

4. Autotask Corporation (Datto) – A Choice for Agencies Looking for IT Support

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.

Key features:

  • Project management and task tracking
  • Incident management
  • SLA and contracts
  • CRM capabilities


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.

5. Projector PSA – A Solid Cloud-Based System for Financial Services

Projector PSA is a cloud-based platform and PSA software that caters to the needs of consulting firms. It combines project management, resource management, and financial management into a single platform.

Key Features:

  • Resource scheduling and utilization tracking
  • Budgeting and financial management
  • Project templates and milestones
  • Time and expense tracking


source: projector psa

Projector PSA is determined to provide robust financial and accounting capabilities, allowing agencies to manage budgets and profitability effectively. The user interface may not be as visually appealing or intuitive compared to some other PSA solutions.

Learn more: Top 5 Business Budgeting Software Solutions for Agencies

6. Deltek – A Comprehensive Professional Service Automation Solution

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

Key Features:

  • Project tracking and scheduling
  • Resource management and forecasting
  • Budgeting and cost tracking
  • Document management and collaboration


source: deltek

Deltek provides industry-specific functionality and compliance tools 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.

7. Netsuite – A Solid Tool for Agencies Looking for a Cloud-Based Solution

Netsuite is a cloud business management solution that includes PSA capabilities. It offers a range of features for project management, resource allocation, and financial management.

Key Features:

  • Project tracking
  • Resource allocation and capacity planning
  • Financial management and invoicing
  • Advanced reporting and analytics


source: netsuite

Netsuite provides a unified platform that integrates various business functions, enabling seamless collaboration between teams and departments. Some reviews have reported that the tool’s customer service could be more responsive and timely when addressing issues or inquiries.

8. BigTime – A Fair Financial Tracking Solution for Agencies

BigTime is a PSA accounting tool designed for professional services. It offers a user-friendly interface and a wide range of features to streamline project management, time tracking, and billing processes.

Key Features:

  • Project planning and scheduling
  • Time and expense tracking
  • Budgeting and financial management
  • Invoicing and billing automation


source: bigtime

BigTime offers a mobile app that allows agencies to track time, manage projects, and access important data on the go. Some users have mentioned that the reporting capabilities could be more advanced, as they are limited compared to other PSA solutions. To learn more, check out our article about BigTime alternatives.

9. Kantata – One of the Best PSA Software for Small Businesses

Kantata is a comprehensive professional services automation solution that caters to the needs of creative agencies. It offers features for project tracking, resource allocation, and collaboration to enhance the creative process in the professional service industry.

Key Features:

  • Project and task management
  • Resource allocation and scheduling
  • Collaborative proofing and feedback tools
  • Time tracking and billing


source: kantata

It provides an intuitive and visually appealing interface, making it easy for creative agencies to navigate and use the tool effectively. The tool may lack some advanced features compared to other PSA solutions, limiting scalability for organizations with complex projects.

10. Scoro – A Good PSA Solution for Organizations

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.

Key Features:

  • Project and task management
  • Time tracking and scheduling
  • Financial management and budgeting
  • Reporting features


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.

Making the Best Choice

According to the 2023 G2 Software Buying Behaviour Report, some of the top considerations for purchasing software for agencies of all sizes are ease of implementation, scalability, and the quality of customer service.

Another essential consideration is the number of features the tool has, or in other words, how comprehensive it is. The same survey shows that most agency professionals (84%) prefer using a single tool over multiple disparate solutions.

The best PSA software should have the following essential capabilities to support your agency management:

  • Project and task management
  • Time tracking
  • Budgeting and invoicing
  • Integrations with other tools and systems

Streamlining Project Management

Efficient task management is essential for keeping projects on track. One of the main benefits of PSA tools is full progress visibility, benefiting both project teams and clients. It enables stakeholders to understand their work within the broader project strategy and goals, fostering alignment and driving better results.

For example, Productive’s PSA features include various project views (list, table, calendar, board, timeline) for tailored progress tracking, customizable task update notifications, integrated documentation management, and access control for client insights into boards and budgets. These features collectively enhance project efficiency and collaboration and help you measure your project’s performance.

Improving Time Tracking

Time tracking is a crucial feature for agencies that want to manage their billable hours efficiently. It powers up insights like resource utilization tracking and forecasting, supporting agency profitability. Hence, native time tracking is a fundamental feature of effective project and agency management tools.


streamline your time tracking with productive

To provide an example, as a popular PSA tool, Productive offers features that streamline repetitive tasks and support overall project efficiency:

  • A desktop timer widget for Windows or Mac
  • Automatic tracking with resource management
  • Timesheet sharing for hourly projects
  • Customizable leave management

Budgeting and Billing

An effective project budgeting tool is essential, especially since only about 30% of projects consistently stay within budget, according to a report by Wellingtone. PSA software helps project managers and agency owners stay informed about budget changes, enhancing decision-making and client relationships.

Productive’s PSA software includes key features like automatic budget overrun warnings, recurring budget setups, forecasting charts for budget spending, purchase order tracking, and customizable invoicing. These tools provide real-time insights into your project budget management, helping manage finances efficiently and maintain project profitability.

Productive performs time-tracking and invoicing at that perfect level where it’s out of your way most of the time, but has the option to drill down into the details if you need to fix mistakes.

Ezra Bowden,
Founder AT The Stork

Integration With Other Agency Systems

Ideally, your PSA sofware should offer essential integrations to help you link your systems together. Workflows that are not integrated well can result in inconsistent data and inefficient daily workflows, both of which hinder operations.

For example, Productive integrates with widespread accounting systems such as QuickBooks and Xero, so you can create an invoice in one system and transfer it to the other. Another useful integration includes the collaborative system Slack. You can create tasks directly from messages, edit them directly, deliver reports, and more. Find out more about Productive’s integrations here.

In short, effective integration simplifies processes, reduces the risk of errors, and ensures a unified approach to managing various aspects of agency operations.

Cloud Vs On-Premise PSA Systems

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 Systems: 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 have complex workflows.

How to Successfully Implement PSA Software

Depending on your firm’s requirements and implementation goals, consider these potential drawbacks when searching for the right PSA software.

For example, if you’re using a project management methodology such as agile, you might not have a need for robust customization. Always consider what common PSA benefits and downsides mean for your specific agency context.

  • 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 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 tools that offer integrations with other applications is often a good choice, as it allows for a more seamless transition and continuity in operations.

Takeaway: Optimizing Project Visibility & Performance

PSA software are essential tools for agencies seeking to optimize project management, resource allocation, and overall operational efficiency. By harnessing the power of these PSA software solutions, agencies can streamline workflows, enhance collaboration, and achieve sustainable growth in an increasingly competitive landscape.

If you’re looking for a scalable solution with comprehensive features, book a demo with Productive and check out our free 14-day trial today.

FAQ

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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