The Essential Things to Know When Searching For an Enterprise PSA Solution

Where to Even Start When Looking For an Enterprise PSA Solution?

It’s become an increasingly confusing software landscape out there. In a previous post we covered what a PSA solution actually is. It is a fact that the top-performing professional services organizations all have figured out that PSA applications are a key differentiator in crushing their business goals. However where do you even start?  There is so much jargon out there:

  • Project Portfolio Management Software
  • Professional Services Automation Software
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP Software)
  • Project-Based Enterprise Resource Planning
  • Enterprise PSA
  • Enterprise Performance Management Software
  • Professional Services Enterprise Resource Planning System
  • Professional Services Enterprise Resource Planning Software
  • Project Management Software
  • Project Business Automation
  • Full Suite PSA
  • PSA Application for Salesforce
  • PSA Application For Hubspot
  • PSA Application for Microsoft Dynamics
  • PSA Application for Managed Service Providers
  • PSA Application for Project Based Organizations
  • PSA Application for Transactional Services
  • PSA Application for White Collar Services

Exhausting!  So where should you begin?

Is an Enterprise PSA Solution Right For Me?

It depends. The best place to start is really understanding the different types of project management software that exist. According to SPI Research, 85% of the top professional services organizations use Enterprise PSA solutions. However, it is common to see confusion around the vague category of project management technology. Even Gartner has bucketed project management, project portfolio management (PPM) and professional services automation (PSA) together. 

So let’s quickly set the groundwork as we think about these three categories of software:

Category 1: Project Management Software

Project management is almost exclusively focused on good delivery. How do I manage tasks in pursuit of execution?  What project management alone fails to understand is how to account for costs in a project and the supply demand curve of resources across an enterprise professional services organization. It also fails to see the bigger picture and roll up against all projects.  

Category 2: Project Portfolio Management Software 

PPM software was created to manage many projects that are underway, not just a single project.  PPM tools help with managing the delivery of a project in an enterprise way. Typically, they are chosen for internal projects.  PPM does not get into project accounting, customer invoicing, revenue recognition or forecasting of future revenue that could (or could not) be generated on projects.

Category 3: Professional Services Automation Software

Professional services automation software is typically used for external projects where customers are being invoiced. There are really two types of PSA solutions out there.  Every tool will say they do it all but the reality is that there is a fairly distinctive line between project and managed service-based PSA tools.

Project Based PSA Software

There is a definitive start and end to the projects managed. As such, it is critical that there are automated project accounting measures in place to manage revenue recognition and project financial performance.

Managed Services PSA Software

This type of PSA is best suited for recurring services models. Think retainer, subscription work or any predictable revenue stream.

Bonus: Download this FREE guide to take a deeper dive into the benefits of PSA software, what to consider and questions to ask when choosing the best fit for your Enterprise PSA needs.

What Situation Should I Use Enterprise PSA or Project Management Solutions in?

There are a two simple questions to start with when diagnosing if Enterprise PSA is the right application for the job.  To be clear, there are probably a ton more, BUT let’s narrow our focus before getting specific:

Question 1:

Are we delivering external (billable) or internal (non-billable) work?

Question 2:

How many projects are we working on?

If you answered: one or a few projects, you are probably looking more for a tactical solution instead of enterprise grade.  In this case, it’s probably best to focus on project management solutions.

If you answered: many projects, then Enterprise grade is likely where you want to start your exploration.

If you answered: many projects that are internally focused, PPM is likely a good starting point.

If you answered: many projects that are externally focused, you should start your search with an Enterprise PSA solution.

enterprise psa solution

What is The Typical Tech Stack For Enterprise PSA Solutions?

Enterprise PSA solutions sit as the glue between the “front office” (customer-facing operations) and the “back office” (administrative duties, such as accounting). This connectivity ensures that project managers have a comprehensive perspective of their project pipeline and can make necessary adjustments to their budgeting and resource plans.

Over the years, the number of ancillary solutions outside of CRM, PSA and accounting have grown significantly.  Those are represented on the right hand side of the diagram.  For example, we continue to see the expansion and growth of HubSpot as a CRM and Marketing Automation platform.  Expect this to continue into the future.

Enterprise PSA Tech Stack

When Should I Start to Evaluate an Enterprise PSA Solution?

The easiest way to think about this is when you have enough complex projects that you can stop counting them on one hand. 

According to SPI research, services firms should have a focus on investing in people, processes, and technology (like PSA) to remain competitive in their space, not get left behind, and to take advantage of built-up demand.

A more nuanced view of this is when a professional services organization wants to focus on tomorrow, not just what is happening today.  The ability to forecast project profitability and resource demand creates the ability to steer the entire business toward more efficient and successful outcomes.   

What that ultimately breaks down into is that a service organization should start evaluating an Enterprise PSA when they get to a point of having four specific common needs:

  1. Profitability: I need to be able to forecast the profitability of my projects

  2. Delivery: I need to be able to deliver quality work

  3. Resources: I need to be able to manage my resource utilization across projects (both current and future)

  4. Growth: I need to be able to gain foresight into my business to unlock outcomes

Enterprise PSA Solutions With Projector

In summary, Enterprise PSA solutions typically should be sourced for:

  • Professional services organizations with many/complex projects
  • Professional services organizations with external (billable) projects

Most importantly, an Enterprise PSA solution needs to connect well into the tech stack between the CRM and accounting technologies.  With abilities to manage the today but forecast the tomorrow.  As you start on your search, connect with the Projector team.  Even if we aren’t the right Enterprise PSA solution, our commitment is to always point you in the right direction. 

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Frequently Asked Questions About Enterprise PSA Solutions

What is Enterprise PSA?

An Enterprise PSA solution gives enterprise professional services organizations the ability to manage their operations today as well as forecast for tomorrow and beyond. An Enterprise PSA needs to connect well into the tech stack between the CRM and accounting technologies.

What are other names for Enterprise PSA solutions?

Enterprise PSA solutions can be referred to by many different names, including (but not limited to):

• Enterprise PSA Software
• Enterprise PSA Solutions
• Project Portfolio Management Software
• Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP Software)
• Project-Based Enterprise Resource Planning
• Enterprise Performance Management Software
• Professional Services Enterprise Resource Planning System
• Professional Services Enterprise Resource Planning Software
• Full Suite PSA
• Project Business Automation

When should I use an Enterprise PSA?

There are two simple questions to start with when diagnosing if Enterprise PSA is the right solution for a service organization.

1. Are we delivering external (billable) or internal (non-billable) work?
2. How many projects are we working on?

Typically, when you answer many projects that are externally focused, you should start your search for an Enterprise PSA.

What is a typical tech stack for Enterprise PSA?

Enterprise PSA solutions sit as the glue between the “front office” (customer-facing operations/CRM) and the “back office” (administrative duties/GL accounting).

When should my service organization evaluate an Enterprise PSA solution?

A professional services organization should start evaluating an Enterprise PSA when they get to a point of having four specific needs:

1. Profitability: I need to be able to forecast the profitability of my projects
2. Delivery: I need to be able to deliver quality work
3. Resources: I need to be able to manage my resource utilization across projects (both current and future)
4. Growth: I need to be able to gain foresight into my business to unlock outcomes

Projector PSA Logo 2020

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